United States President, Donald Trump has signed an executive order suspending the US refugee programme for 120 days.
Trump specifically barred Syrian refugees until he determines it is safe to admit them.
He ordered his Secretary of State to review the US refugee programme during the 120-day suspension, to make sure people approved as refugees “do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States’’.
The order also specifically bars Syrian nationals from entering the US as immigrants or non-immigrants because allowing them in would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States’’.
The suspension will continue until changes are made to the US Refugee Admissions Programme, his order stated.
It added that refugee applicants already in process may be admitted after completing the revised procedures.
In a further action contained in the order, people from several majority Muslim countries, are barred entry for 90 days, whether they seek refugee status or not.
The order refers to a specific section of the Immigration and Naturalisation Act.
The countries are Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq, according to The Hill newspaper, quoting the Department of Homeland Security.
The refugee programme will be restarted on a limited basis after the 120-day period if the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security determine that procedures for allowing them in “are adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the United States’’.
Trump signed the order at a Pentagon ceremony, saying it was designed to keep radical terrorists out of the United States.
“I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical terrorists out of the United States of America.
“We don’t want them here; we want to make sure we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.
“The US wants to admit only those people who will support our country and love, deeply our people,’’ Trump said.
He mentioned the people, who died at the Pentagon in the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, saying the US would never forget the lessons learned that day.
“Most of the attackers were Saudis, who had been admitted to the country on visas,’’. Trump said.
The signing followed the swearing-in of James Mattis as Defence Secretary.
Trump also signed a separate executive order on rebuilding the US military.
The other executive order, also signed on Friday, calls for a “great rebuilding of the US armed forces; developing a plan for new planes, new ships, new resources; and new tools for our men and women in uniform’’.
He said the action would “ensure the sacrifices of our military are supported by the actions of our government’’.
Earlier, Trump reiterated that he believed torture was effective but that he would not order use of harsh interrogation methods.
His views differ from those of Mattis, a retired general from the US Marines, who had strongly opposed the torture of prisoners.
“He stated publicly that he does not necessarily believed in torture or water boarding,’’ Trump said during a White House press conference with British Prime Minister, Theresa May.
“He’s an expert; he’s highly respected; he’s the general’s general. … So I’m going to rely on him.”
Mattis was ceremonially sworn into office by Vice President Mike Pence at the Pentagon before Trump signed the executive orders.
Pence said he and Trump had “the highest faith in your judgment, your courage, and your dedication to this nation’’. (NAN)