The Latest: US halts refugee resettlement program with Malta

The Latest on Europe's migration influx (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

A decade-old program to resettle a fixed quota of refugees arriving in the small, southern EU nation of Malta to the United States is another casualty of President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

U.S. Ambassador G. Kathleen Hill told Maltese media this week that the refugee resettlement program has been suspended for 120 days under the order.

It isn't clear what will happen after the four months have elapsed. Hill said that the U.S. government is "reviewing the program" and the embassy is awaiting "further guidance" at the end of the 120 days.

More than 3,110 refugees have been resettled in the U.S. since 2007 to help ease pressure on Malta from the influx of migrants arriving by boat from northern Africa.


12:45 p.m.

The European Union chief says that Friday's summit on migration is poised to take a big step in closing off the illegal migration route through the central Mediterranean where thousands have died over the past several years trying to reach the EU from Libya.

EU President Donald Tusk said Thursday after talks with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni that "I can assure you that it is within our reach" to cut off the smuggling routes, as expectations are rising that drownings will increase as the spring weather comes.

Tusk said that "we owe it first and foremost to those who suffer and risk their lives. But we also owe it to Italians and all Europeans." Most migrants coming through Libya are economic migrants with little chance of being granted asylum.