WASHINGTON: Top White House official on Sunday suggested that more countries like Pakistan could be added to the ban list of seven Muslim countries that already include Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus while defending US president Donald Trump’s decision in an interview, said, “You can point to other countries that have similar problems like Pakistan and others — perhaps we need to take it further,”
Priebus said during the interview that immediate steps to be taken included further vetting for people travelling in and out of those countries for now.
He added that if the administration tipped off their decision beforehand, it could’ve meant that ‘potential terrorists’ would’ve tried to enter the US.
“We’re not going to advertise to the world that we’re going to put a stop or at least further vetting on travel in and out of our country from these seven places,” he said.
“All this is, is identifying the seven countries — and the reason we chose those seven countries is those were the seven countries that both the Congress and the Obama administration identified as being the seven countries that were most identifiable with dangerous terrorism taking place in their country,” Priebus explained.
President Donald Trump’s immigration order is getting pushback from some Republicans in Congress, even as officials from Trump’s administration insist it’s a small price to pay to keep the nation safe.
Trump billed his sweeping executive order as a necessary step to stop “radical terrorists” from coming to the US It included a 90-day ban on travel to the US by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen and a 120-day suspension of the US refugee program.
The comments from Preibus came after a US federal judge issued an emergency order temporarily barring the government from deporting people from seven majority Muslim nations subject to Trump’s travel ban. The judge said travellers who had been detained had a strong argument that their legal rights had been violated.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement early Sunday that said the court ruling would not affect the overall implementation of the White House order and it affected a relatively small number of travellers who were inconvenienced by security procedures upon their return. Trump’s aides insist the judgment has little impact.
Trump’s order, which also suspends the US refugee program for 120 days and bars the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely, has sparked major protests, including at several of the nation’s international airports. It also puts Republicans who criticised Trump’s initial campaign proposal to block foreign Muslims from entering the country in a tough spot.
According to data available, in the fiscal year 2016, the US issued 23,732 visas to the countries in the ban list, out of a total 617,752 immigrant visas issued during the same time frame.