Washington, D.C.- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, (D) Oregon, is reacting after several news agencies, including Reuters and NBC, reported President Donald Trump is expected to sign executive orders starting on Wednesday that include a temporary ban on most refugees and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries. The information came from congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter.
Trump is expected to ban for several months the entry of refugees into the United States, except for religious minorities escaping persecution, until more aggressive vetting is in place. Another order will block visas being issued to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
In his tweet late on Tuesday, Trump said: “Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!”
“The reported ban on refugees and immigrants from several majority Muslim countries is a thinly disguised religious test that would do nothing to safeguard our nation, while running counter to core American values,” said Wyden in a press release early Wednesday morning. “Shutting the door to these refugees, including many Christians and other religious minorities, forsakes America’s legacy as a place for shelter for those fleeing religious persecution. Banning women and children from war-torn nations from finding refuge in the U.S. only provides fodder for our enemies and distracts from the real threats facing our nation.”
Stephen Legomsky, who was chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Obama administration, told Reuters the president had the authority to limit refugee admissions and the issuance of visas to specific countries if the administration determined it was in the public’s interest.
“From a legal standpoint, it would be exactly within his legal rights,” said Legomsky, a professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. “But from a policy standpoint, it would be terrible idea because there is such an urgent humanitarian need right now for refugees.”
On the campaign trail, Trump initially proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, which he said would protect Americans from jihadist attacks.
Both Trump and his nominee for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, have since said they would focus the restrictions on countries whose migrants could pose a threat, rather than a ban on those of a specific religion.
Reuters contributed to this report