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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Friday intended to sign an executive action Friday temporarily halting the flow of refugees into the United Sates and stopping all entries from some majority-Muslim nations, his spokesman said.
A draft of the order obtained by The Associated Press also includes an indefinite ban on accepting Syrian refugees, and the pause in the broader refugee program extends for 120 days.
Trump campaigned on a pledge to put in place "extreme vetting" procedures particularly for people coming to the U.S. from countries with terrorism ties. According to the draft order, the president plans to suspend issuing visas for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen for at least 30 days.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump intended to sign the order during a Friday afternoon visit to the Pentagon, along with actions related to military readiness and the National Security Council. Details of those directives were not immediately clear.
While at the Pentagon, Trump was expected to meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and attend a ceremonial swearing-in for Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Trump has the authority to determine how many refugees are accepted annually; he can suspend the program at any time. Refugee processing was suspended in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and restarted months later.
During the last budget year, the U.S. accepted 84,995 refugees, including 12,587 people from Syria. President Barack Obama had set the refugee limit for this budget year at 110,000.
Trump, according to the impending executive order, planned to cut that program by more half to 50,000. The draft order said while the program is suspended, the U.S. may admit people on a case-by-case basis "when in the national interest" and the government would continue to process refugee requests from people claiming religious persecution, "provided that the religion ... is a minority religion in the individual's country." That suggests that would allow the admission of Christians from Muslim-majority countries.
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