Follow Up

White House on travel ban: “We don’t want a replica of European fiasco”

Monday, Jan 30, 2017,10:04 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Washington | Trump administration’s decision to impose a ban on immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations is aimed at avoiding a situation that exists today in parts of France, Germany or Belgium, the White House has said, pointing out to the increasing terrorist attacks in Europe.
The defence of the controversial decision, which came into effect on Friday after Donald Trump signed an executive order banning the entry of people into the US from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Somalia, comes amid a global backlash, including from leaders of Germany, France and UK.
Despite the criticism, the Trump administration appears to have held its ground on the decision, saying the US is a sovereign country and it has the “right to develop a system in which we’re selecting immigrants that we think will be able to make positive contributions to United States society.” A senior administration official told reporters during a conference call that the decision is aimed at preventing a situation that exists in Europe.
“The reality, though, is that the situation that exists today in parts of France, in parts of Germany, in Belgium, etcetera, is not a situation we want replicated inside the US,” the administration official said requesting anonymity.
“We don’t want a situation where, 20 to 30 years from now, it’s just like a given thing that on a fairly regular basis there is domestic terror strikes, stores are shut up or that airports have explosive devices planted, or people are mowed down in the street by cars and automobiles and things of that nature,” the official said.
Responding to questions from reporters during the call, he called the previously-existing vetting procedures as “woefully inadequate.”
“It would make sense to have a ban on non-essential travel from foreign nationals from seven countries previously deemed worthy of travel restrictions by the (Barack) Obama administration,” the official said.
The “the guidance from the beginning” has been that legal permanent residents (LPRs) were exempt from the immigration executive order, he said. “The proof of that is, as of, like, 12 o’clock this afternoon, 170 people applied for the waiver for LPRs and 170 people received the waiver for LPRs,” he said.
Some of the confusion stemming over the green card issue is just semantic in nature, he said adding that some of the confusion stems from the semantic debate about the meaning of the word exemption.
“Unless you are a citizen or a national of one of the seven counties, the executive order does not obtain to you is the bottom policy,” the official said.
He praised the order’s implementation as having been done “seamlessly” and with “extraordinary professionalism.” Over a typical 24-hour period, nearly 325,000 people enter the US by air. “Of these, 109 people were set aside for further questioning for additional security screenings,” the official said and called it a “fractional, marginal, miniscule, percentage of travelers to our airports on any given day.”
The drafters of the executive order, he said, were the Republicans and the immigration experts at Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said the US should not turn away individuals who already have lawful US visas or green cards — like those who risked their lives serving alongside our forces overseas or who call America their home.
“We must be focused instead on putting in place tougher screening measures to weed out terror suspects while facilitating the entry of peaceful, freedom-loving people of all religions who see the US as a beacon of hope,” he said.
“In the future, such policy changes should be better coordinated with the agencies implementing them and with Congress to ensure we get it right—and don’t undermine our nation’s credibility while trying to restore it,” he added.
McCaul said it is deeply irresponsible to characterize this Executive Order as a ‘Muslim ban.’
“It is not. The order puts a pause on refugee admissions and temporarily halts immigration from seven countries, each of which was already designated by the Obama Administration as an area of terror concern,” he said.
“The US government has paused immigration from specific countries in the past in order to implement additional measures to prevent terrorist infiltration of our homeland,” he said.