On Wednesday U.S. President Donald Trump will sign a series of executive orders to initiate construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, immediately invoke a ban on refugees, and deny entry to the U.S. for travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, according to multiple anonymous sources.
On Tuesday night, the president sent out a Tweet promising a “big day” Wednesday on national security issues.
Just one hour later both The Guardian and Reuters reported that unnamed congressional aides and “immigration experts” briefed on the plans said Trump will sign an order to allocate funds to begin construction of a wall on the 2, 000-mile U.S.-Mexico border and immediately ban most refugees from entering the country.
The sources said Trump would also immediately suspend the issuing of Visas to any travelers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
According to the sources, Trump’s orders banning refugees would include an exception for “religious minorities escaping persecution,” which – given Trump’s widespread support among Christian extremists – likely will only be applied to Christians trying to leave majority-Muslim countries.
Under President Obama, the U.S. had approved accepting 110,000 refugees- a tiny fraction of the millions fleeing U.S. wars in North Africa and the Middle East – in the 2017 fiscal year.
NBC reported late Tuesday that the border wall-related order on Wednesday will shift federal funding already allocated to other programs towards the wall project.
Trump’s proposal to build a border wall with Mexico- and make Mexico pay for it- was one of the few specific policy proposals in his racist campaign against Latino migrants living and working in the U.S.
Despite Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto's insistence that Mexico “absolutely will not pay” for the wall, Trump has maintained that while the U.S. might pay for the up-front construction costs, Mexico will reimburse the U.S. after the project is complete.
Trump has repeatedly said that the construction of the wall is the first phase of his plan to forcibly deport up to 3 million migrants currently living in the U.S. The Mexican president is scheduled to meet Trump in Washington next week.
The ban on refugees and travelers from the seven named countries could include an order to border agents to refuse entry to people who have already been issued visas as part of the U.S. government's uniquely stringent screening process, where refugees and travelers can go through up to two years of intense background checks and interviews.
During his Islamophobic campaign, Trump explicitly called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. Some have speculated that while the refugee and travel bans announced Wednesday will not explicitly target Muslims, they still might trigger human rights lawsuits given that the travel bans are all leveled at Muslim majority countries.
The sources said the bans on refugees and travelers will be temporary, imposed until the Trump administration can create a vaguely defined "extreme vetting" process. No timeline was given for how long that might take.
Trump will sign the orders to coincide with a swearing-in ceremony for John Kelly, Trump’s recently-approved choice to be secretary of the department of homeland security. Kelly was previously the general in charge of U.S. Southern Command, tasked with persecuting the U.S. War on Drugs in Central and Latin America.
Kelly was recently approved by the Senate despite his failure to disclose the conflict of interest surrounding his lobbying work for defense industry contractors Michael Baker International and Sallyport Global.