In a slew of executive orders starting on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump is expected to order the construction of a wall along the Mexican border, temporarily prevent people from some Muslim countries from entering the US and suspend the refugee programme.
Trump is also expected to issue orders related to national security such as reviewing and reopening “black sites” operated by US Intelligence to interrogate terrorism suspects outside the US, and keep the Guantanamo Bay prison open.
“Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow,” Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday. “Among many other things, we will build the wall!”
He is expected to announce his border security plans, which would include the wall and beefing up enforcement by bringing in more personnel, on Wednesday during a trip to the Department of Homeland Security.
He will follow up the next day with plans to suspend the refugee programme entirely and temporarily ban people from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen and Libya from entering the United States, according to multiple reports.
The wall along the border with Mexico was the centrepiece of Trump’s presidential campaign, aimed at keeping out illegal immigrants, whom he had controversially described as criminals and rapists while launching his run.
The US-Mexican border is about 1,900 miles and a wall — definitely a wall, not a fence, Trump has insisted — could cost in his estimation $10 to $12 billion (other estimates pegged the cost at a much higher level) and he wants Mexico to pay for it.
Mexico has rejected any suggestion that it will pay for it, with some leaders resorting to rather colourful language to express their disdain for the idea. But Trump has continued to insist he will make them pay and may push it when he meets Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto shortly.
Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
Also on Wednesday, Trump is likely to announce steps to punish officials of sanctuary cities — cities that shelter illegal immigrants and don’t give them up to federal authorities for deportation — and beef up enforcement appointing extra border agents.
But the world beyond America’s southern neighbours will be watching closely Trump’s orders expected on Thursday that will prevent people from certain designated countries from entering the US — initially for 30 days, according to some reports.
The list of designated countries also differed — Afghanistan was included in some reports. But the plan was to suspend admissions from these countries by denying visas till the administration figured out a process to vet them adequately.
Trump had started by proposing a blanket ban on all Muslims from entering the US temporarily, had toned it down to restricting the ban only on visitors from countries impacted by terrorism to, eventually, just “extreme vetting”.
The administration was also planning to suspend the country’s refugee programme for 120 days to give authorities time to determine the countries of origin that pose the least risk, according to a news report citing an unidentified official.
The programme for Syrian refugees might be ended, as desired by the president, and the issuance of fresh visas could be suspended till a later, but undetermined date. The new administration also wants to reduce the intake of refugees to 55,000 this year.
Bana al-Abed, the Syrian girl whose tweets about the war in Aleppo caught international attention, has, in the meantime, written a letter to Trump asking him to do something for the children of Syria “because they are like your children and deserve peace like you”.