Trump to halt U.S. entry from several Middle Eastern countries

The Trump administration will temporarily suspend the entry of foreign nationals from some Muslim-majority countries through executive order, according to refugee advocacy groups who have obtained what they say is a draft copy of an order to be signed by the new president.  

The document, which has been published by several news outlets and was obtained separately by The Hill, is titled "Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals." 

It would suspend entry into the U.S. from select countries starting 30 days after the order is issued. The countries in question include Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

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The White House did not immediately respond to questions from The Hill about the document. But in an interview that aired Wednesday night, President Trump seemed to confirm the details of the document. 

Trump said the policy is not a "Muslim ban." 

"But it's countries that have tremendous terror and it's countries that people are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems. Our country has enough problems without allowing people to come in who in many cases or in some cases are looking to do tremendous destruction," Trump said in an interview with ABC News' David Muir.

"We're looking at people that come in in many cases in some cases with evil intentions. I don’t want that. They’re ISIS, they’re coming under false pretenses, I don’t want that. I’m going to be be the president of a safe country, we have enough problems."

The order instructs the secretary of Homeland Security, the secretary of State and the director of national intelligence to conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to verify the identities of those looking to enter, and to make sure they are not a security or public-safety threat. A report on the determinations would be due at the end of the 30 days. 

Foreign governments that do not already supply such information would be requested to begin doing so within 60 days of notification. Nationals from countries who do not comply would be prohibited from entering the U.S. until compliance occurs. 

The secretary of State or secretary of Homeland Security could add additional countries to the list of prohibited countries, but they could also approve individuals on a case-by-case basis, the draft order states. 

The order would also suspend all refugee admissions into the U.S. for 120 days. During that time, the secretary of State is instructed to review refugee application procedures. Those who have already applied for admission would have their applications placed on hold and resumed once the review is complete. 

Refugee applications by religious minorities facing persecution would be prioritized, the order says. Refugee admissions from Syria would be ceased entirely until Trump has determined that necessary changes have been made to the refugee admissions program, known as the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.  

The secretaries of State and Homeland Security may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis, and continue to process applications for religious minorities facing persecution in their countries.  

The total number of refugees allowed into the U.S. in fiscal year 2017 will be reduced to 50,000 from 110,000. 

The order also instructs the secretary of State to come up with a plan to provide "safe areas" in Syria where refugees can reside, something Trump called for on the campaign trail, a point Trump acknowledged in the ABC interview.

It also instructs the secretary of Homeland Security to speed implementation of a biometric screening system for entry, and would require interviews for all non-immigrant visa seekers. 

Trump could reportedly sign the order as early as Thursday. On Wednesday, he took steps to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and reinforce immigration law.

Trump has called for "extreme vetting" of those seeking to enter the U.S. from countries linked to terrorism. He said Wednesday that that standard would be applied to countries not named in the executive order. 

He also brushed off a question from Muir about whether the steps would create more anger among Muslims around the world. 

"Anger? There's plenty of anger right now, how can you have more?" he said. "Look, David, I know you’re a sophisticated guy — the world is a mess, the world is as angry as it gets. You think this is going to cause a little more anger? The world is an angry place."