President Trump’s executive order is not a permanent ban but is necessary for national security thanks to the lax vetting practices applied by the Obama administration, according to a leading immigration policy experts.
Trump has issued a flurry of orders, but his executive order last week ordering an immediate and indefinite pause on travel to the United States from seven terrorism-prone nations is drawing by far the fiercest response. Protesters have clogged airports and political critics are demanding Trump rescind the order.
Jessica Vaughan is director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. She says there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about what Trump’s order does.
“I think the most misunderstood part is that people are being permanently prevented from coming to the United States who had been approved before,” said Vaughan. “This is not a permanent ban. It’s a temporary suspension. You can call it a ban if you want, but it’s a temporary ban. No one has been told that the benefit they were approved for has been taken away.”
And she says refugees in dire situations are still being processed from those countries even with the pause in place.
“I have to emphasize there is language in this executive order that anybody with a particularly emergency situation, compelling circumstances, in imminent danger, or in other categories can ask for a waiver. From what I’ve heard in statements today, they’ve already granted more than a thousand waivers for people,” said Vaughan.
But she says the pause on entry from the seven unstable nations is needed to recalibrate how the U.S. screens people entering our country.
“The point was to give our government the opportunity to take another look at these people who have been granted green cards, visas, refugee status. We know that the vetting process under the Obama administration was not adequate,” said Vaughan.
Vaughan, a former visa officer, says the Obama administration failed to do even basic screening much of the time, including waiving required interviews with those seeking to go to the U.S. But she said the problems didn’t end there.
“In other cases, officers were not allowed to look very deeply into the applications that they got. The claims they made on their applications were not always verified. Officers were told to assume that they were qualified and not ask too many questions. [There was] not a lot of fraud prevention work taking place,” said Vaughan.
Then there is the problem of trying to vet people coming from hostile countries or ones that don’t have decent records on their people.
“In some of these countries, we don’t have enough of a relationship with the government to be able to be sure that people’s identities are who they say they are or that their story checks out,” said Vaughan.
“There was a lot of enforcement that was undone by the Obama administration. We’ve seen illegal immigration rise to levels we have not seen in many years,” said Vautghan.
Vaughan says she has sympathy for those caught in transit as the order took effect, but she says national security has to take precedence.
“It is important to recognize that our security has been put at risk every single day that we have not had adequate vetting in place. So it was important to put a stop to that as soon as possible,” said Vaughan.
Vaughan likens the pace of Trump’s immigration actions thus far – ranging from this order to ordering border wall construction to cracking down on sanctuary cities – to “drinking from a fire hose,” but she believes Trump is on the right course.
“There’s a lot that needed to happen,” she said. “It’s been presented as an integrated plan. Throwaway lines like, ‘Let’s have more border security.’ They’re talking about a wall but changing the policies also and enforcing the laws in the interior. That’s a comprehensive approach that’s likely to work.”