On 27 January 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order entitled “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” which barred entry to the U.S. for foreign nationals from certain countries associated with terrorism.
The order bars all persons from certain terror-prone countries from entering the United States for 90 days and suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days until it is reinstated “only for nationals of countries for whom” members of Trump’s Cabinet deem can be properly vetted.
The countries impacted are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, according to a White House official.
All seven countries targeted by the ban are Muslim majority nations. Trump’s order stipulated that Christians and adherents of other minority religions be given priority over Muslims, the New York Times reported. The measures are part of President Trump’s promised “extreme vetting measures” designed to keep terrorists out of the United States:
“We don’t want them here,” Mr. Trump said of Islamist terrorists during a signing ceremony at the Pentagon. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country, and love deeply our people.”
Human rights groups condemned the order as an instance of religious persecution. The American Civil Liberties Union labeled it a “euphemism for discriminating against Muslims.”
As President Trump signed the order, Vice President Mike Pence stood behind him and applauded. Hours later, a tweet purportedly sent by then-Governor of Indiana Mike Pence on 8 December 2015 was resurrected and shared online as proof he had once vehemently disagreed with Trump on the issue of banning entry to the United States on the basis of religion:
Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.
— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) December 8, 2015
The tweet, sent from Pence’s verified Twitter account, was authentic. His comment was in response to a 7 December 2015 proposal by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump to institute a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country until government officials could “figure out what’s going on.”
After Trump nominated Pence as his GOP running-mate in July 2016, Pence backtracked on the issue. When asked in October 2016 why he had stopped condemning the idea of a ban, Pence said he no longer needed to condemn it because Trump had supposedly abandoned the position himself.
The most significant difference between the ban instituted by Trump’s January 2017 executive order and the one he proposed as a candidate in 2015 is its scope. The earlier proposal called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” while the executive order targets residents of seven specific Muslim majority nations.