Travel ban aimed at avoiding situation existing in Europe: White House

PTI  | Deccan Chronicle

World, America

Trump signed an executive order banning the entry of people into the US from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Somalia.

Emtisal Bazara cries as she and her husband, Ahmad Bazara, both recent Syrian immigrants, look on at a rally to oppose President Donald Trump's executive order barring citizens from several countries from entering the United States in Seattle. (Photo: AP)

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.