Washington: A temporary ban on refugees and visa suspension of six Middle Eastern and African countries is expected to be ordered on Wednesday by the US president Donald Trump.
The US president is expected to sign an executive order according to the immigration experts and congressional aides who were briefed on this matter.
Refugees from these countries will be banned from entering the United States for several months, during this time more strict screening practices will be put in place. However, people escaping from religious persecution especially minorities have been exempted from the ban.
According to media reports immigration experts and aides who chose to remain unidentified have said that people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen will not be issued visas.
According to the former chief counsel of US Citizenship and Immigration Service, Stephen Legomsky, the president of United States have the power to restrict refugee acceptance and visa issuance to certain countries, given that it is considered to be in public’s interest by the administration.
He said: “From a legal standpoint, it would be exactly within his legal rights. But from a policy standpoint, it would be terrible idea because there is such an urgent humanitarian need right now for refugees.”
This decision should not come as a surprise as Donald Trump had suggested a temporary ban on Muslims coming to United States during his presidential campaign. He also reminded the people of United States during his inaugural address that America will end Islamic extremism once and for all.
However, this stance was changed and Donald Trump later said that only those countries will be banned which pose a threat to the national security of United States rather than completing banning people of a specific religion.
There are a few ways Donald Trump can implement this strategy in the US, he can instruct the State Department to refuse visa applications coming from specific countries. He can also order the US Customs and Border Protection to refuse entry to people from these countries even if they already have a visa.
However, this strategy still pose some legal challenges as immigration expert Hiroshi Motomura at UCLA School of Law pointed out, critics of this policy can legally challenge this policy if all the banned countries are of a particular race or religion.
In this case all the countries have a Muslim majority population and this decision could be challenged as being discriminatory against the Muslim religion. Hiroshi Motomura said:
“His (Trump’s) comments during the campaign and a number of people on his team focused very much on religion as the target.”
This executive order will put the refugee settlement deal with Australia at risk, this deal was made last year and it can cast uncertainty over the future of 1,000 asylum seekers in Australia. The United States had previously agreed to resettle some of the refugees.