Trump signs executive action on refugees
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump took executive action Friday on curbing access visas and limiting refugees coming to the US.
Titled “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” the action institutes what the President has called “extreme vetting” of immigrants.
According to drafts of the executive action obtained by CNN, it suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days until it is reinstated “only for nationals of countries for whom” members of Trump’s Cabinet deem can be properly vetted.
It also caps the total number of refugees admitted in the 2017 fiscal year at 50,000.
Steps away on Massachusetts Avenue, traffic was temporarily stopped as Trump and his motorcade zipped up to the Department of Homeland Security.
And, like all days, Muslims parked nearby and gathered for prayers at the Islamic Center on the corner of Belmont and Massachusetts.
Leadership at the Islamic Center declined a formal request for interview, but conversations with dozens of people coming and going from midday prayers at the mosque voiced fear — and some hope — for what these actions and a Trump administration will mean to the Muslim community.
Mudaser Jaura came to the United States from Pakistan and has lived in Virginia for 14 years. He called Trump’s stance on refugees “sad.”
“It’s bad for humanity. (Trump) is giving a message to the world that we don’t care about refugees. Who are refugees? We need to think about that. They are people who are homeless, and starving, dying. They need shelter,” Jaura said. “He needs to show a big heart. America can be great again, you know? How? If you stop bombing other nations.”
The United States has been engaged in airstrikes targeted at ISIS in Middle Eastern countries, including Syria and Libya, since 2014.
“I’m Sudanese, I’m Muslim, I’m an immigrant, I’m black,” said Ali Bashir, who came to the US from Sudan. He said Trump’s forthcoming executive actions will hurt the Muslim community.
“Of course it’s a bad thing. The way he’s talking and whatever statements that he’s making, it’s hurting the Muslim — especially the community of Muslims. We’re not hurting nobody here, we’re just trying to make a living like everybody else,” he said.
“According to the law of the United States, you cannot particularly select some countries,” Mohammed, a Somali-American who asked that his last name not be identified, said. “If one person of those people do something wrong, you cannot generalize.”
Osman Hamed, who has been in the United States for 20 years, expressed concern that suspending the refugee program does not reflect the nation’s founding principles.
“I’m worried for my family, for everyone. These are not the values of America,” he said.
Reyad Ahmed, who came to the United States from Sudan 12 years ago, said that as a Muslim and an immigrant, he was “scared” about the next four years under the Trump administration.
“We have kids born here, what is their future going to be? I have three kids born here in the United States, they’re American. I’m scared,” he said, adding, “I miss Obama.”
Anwar Dametto, an American citizen originally from Ethiopia, predicted a “backlash” to Trump’s actions and to his presidency.
Asked about being Muslim in Trump’s America, Dametto said: “We are not treated as any other Americans because of our faith.”
Beyond the 120-day refugee program suspension, a program for admitting Syrian refugees, who are fleeing civil war and a humanitarian crisis, would be ended indefinitely, per the drafts. And it directs the Pentagon and State Department to plan “safe zones” inside Syria, which the previous administration rejected as unlikely to alleviate civilian suffering.
“We have to try to help the Syrian refugees, babies everywhere … we have to help them,” said Nagib Arabi. “I hope Trump will care about everybody.”
But for some visiting the mosque, Trump’s actions may be a positive step.
“Sometimes I agree with him, because there’s a lot of people that come here and do a lot of damages. And I think it’s better to limit the number of people that come in the country, or to screen them even better,” said Azza Ahmed. Ahmed was in town from New Jersey to help settle in her son, who is joining Capitol Police.
“Not everyone is bad,” she said. But she added that as an American Muslim “we can’t pay for others’ mistakes.”
Tariq Ali, an accountant originally from Pakistan who has been in the United States for over 20 years, has “no problem” with Trump’s actions.
“For the safety and security of our lives — you think terrorists from the Middle East will spare me because I’m Muslim? I don’t think so. What happened in New York at the time of 9/11? Muslims died, Christians died, Jews died,” Ali said.
“You have seen what is happening in Europe. I would want extreme vetting for anyone coming into this country … At this time, there is no real, authentic mechanism to verify the Muslims’ credentials. If you are living in a country like Syria or Iraq, how can you do background checking for those people? I sincerely think that the country must do extreme vetting for anyone coming to this land for the sake of our own security.”
But the neighborhood, Mohad Hussan, who comes here to pray five times a day, had a more pressing concern due to the newly added security on nearby streets.
“It’s very difficult to park,” Hussan said.
— CNN’s Jim Acosta, Dan Merica and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.