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Trump doubles down on refugee ban

President Donald Trump on Sunday doubled down on his executive order to severely curb refugees and legal immigration, insisting on Twitter that America needs “extreme vetting” to avoid the “horrible mess” elsewhere.

Trump’s defense of his actions came as he faced escalating pressure to rescind the order. A growing number of Republicans began chiding Trump, humanitarian groups planned a second round of protests Sunday, and some judges issued rulings halting the deportation of refugees and others caught in the legal melee.

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“Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world — a horrible mess!” Trump tweeted early in the morning.

Trump’s executive order, issued Friday, has many elements, but its main features include an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, a halt to all refugee admissions to the United States, and the temporary suspension of all visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya.

The White House also insisted that even U.S. legal permanent residents who hail from those seven countries must get additional screening if they are returning to America from abroad. People of dual citizenship also are barred from entering the United States if one of their nationalities is from the seven countries.

The result was panic and confusion at airports across the country on Friday and Saturday as some travelers’ status suddenly changed while they were mid-flight. Those caught up included an Iraqi who obtained a special U.S. visa for helping American troops, as well as legal permanent residents who live in the United States and were returning from trips abroad.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer, speaking to ABC’s “This Week,” downplayed the events by stressing that only a small number of people were affected.

“There’s 325,000 people from foreign countries that traveled into the United States yesterday,” he said. “There are 109 people that this actually addressed that had come in post-entry from seven countries that we’ve identified.”

Spicer also insisted that the executive order does not amount to a ban on Muslims because many Muslim-majority countries are not covered by it. “The safety of the American citizens, the safety of our country has got to be paramount,” the Trump aide said.

Lawyers rushed to major airports to help the stranded, as did numerous protesters. The ACLU and other groups filed lawsuits to prevent the travelers from being sent back. Advocacy groups used social media to rail against what they called Trump’s “Muslim Ban.” Several protests were planned for Sunday, including one in front of the White House.

Late Friday, a Brooklyn judge issued a nationwide stay of the deportations as government lawyers themselves tried to figure out what was going on. Other judges issued similar rulings afterward, including some that seemed to go further by requiring the detained be released.

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In a cryptically worded statement, the Department of Homeland Security said it would comply with the various legal ruling and indicated plans to release all green-card holders who had arrived in the United States on Friday or Saturday and were detained under the Trump order.

Numerous Democratic lawmakers have blasted the order, but Trump’s fellow Republicans have started to splinter. A handful, such as Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, issued statements saying the order goes too far, especially when it affects legal permanent residents.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to strike a balance in an interview with ABC, insisting that while he opposes religious tests for people entering the country, additional vetting isn’t a bad idea.

“We need to remember that some of our best allies in the war against Islamic terrorism are Muslims,” the Kentucky Republican added, pointing out that those allies include interpreters in war-zones overseas. Trump’s order could in particular bar many Iraqi interpreters who’ve applied to a special U.S. visa program.

Also chiming in were foreign leaders. Canada’s Justin Trudeau tweeted that his country remained open to refugees, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May also reportedly criticized the order.

Trump aides, however, insist the measure is necessary to protect the United States from terrorists who may be trying to infiltrate the refugee and visa programs. They will likely get the support of plenty of far-right politicians in Europe and beyond, many of whom consider the Muslim migrants who have spilled out of the war-torn Middle East in recent years a potential threat.

Seung Min Kim contributed to this article.

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Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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