March 7, 2017
News Press Release

ZOA Praises Trump Executive Order on Immigration

Flags of member nations flying at United Nations Headquarters. 30/Dec/2005. UN Photo/Joao Araujo Pinto. www.unmultimedia.org/photo/

Zionist Organization of America President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:

The ZOA praises President Trump for today issuing a new “Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States;” and a “Memorandum for the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security” regarding “implementing immediate heightened screening and vetting of applications for visas and other immigration benefits, ensuring enforcement of all laws for entry into the United States, and increasing transparency among departments and agencies of the federal government and for the American people.”

The President’s Executive Order and memorandum call for a review of and needed enhancements to our inadequate immigrant vetting and screening procedures, including assuring collection of all information needed to evaluate an immigrants’ admissabilty, in-person interviews, databases to prevent use of duplicate documents by two or more applicants, questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers, mechanisms for assuring that applicants are who they say they are, and mechanisms to assess the likelihood an applicant will commit or support terrorist acts, etc. 

Each of these countries is a state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organizations, or contains active conflict zones.  Any of these circumstances diminishes the foreign government’s willingness or ability to share or validate important information about individuals seeking to travel to the United States.

The Executive Order also fulfills the president’s basic duty of protecting the nation by suspending entry by nationals from six nations (Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen) where current screening abilities are inadequate, resulting in an unacceptable risk that individuals who intend to commit, aid or support terrorist acts here will infiltrate into the U.S. 

The Executive Order aptly notes that:

Each of these countries is a state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organizations, or contains active conflict zones.  Any of these circumstances diminishes the foreign government’s willingness or ability to share or validate important information about individuals seeking to travel to the United States.  Moreover, the significant presence in each of these countries of terrorist organizations, their members, and others exposed to those organizations increases the chance that conditions will be exploited to enable terrorist operatives or sympathizers to travel to the United States.” 

The Executive Order then details the reasons why screening is inadequate and poses too much risk of entry of terrorists for each of the six specified nations.  For example, among other problems, Iran, Syria and Sudan are designated state sponsors of terrorism, and Iran “continues to support various terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas, and terrorist groups in Iraq.  Iran has also been linked to support for al-Qa’ida and has permitted al-Qa’ida to transport funds and fighters through Iran to Syria and South Asia.”

The Executive Order also provides the facts needed to counteract the false claims that such refugees have not previously endangered our national security or engaged in terrorism in the U.S. – claims that were raised to attack previous Executive Order 13769.  

The new Executive Order explains that:

“Recent history shows that some of those who have entered the United States through our immigration system have proved to be threats to our national security.  Since 2001, hundreds of persons born abroad have been convicted of terrorism-related crimes in the United States.  They have included not just persons who came here legally on visas but also individuals who first entered the country as refugees.  For example, in January 2013, two Iraqi nationals admitted to the United States as refugees in 2009 were sentenced to 40 years and to life in prison, respectively, for multiple terrorism-related offenses.  And in October 2014, a native of Somalia who had been brought to the United States as a child refugee and later became a naturalized United States citizen was sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction as part of a plot to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon.  The Attorney General has reported to me that more than 300 persons who entered the United States as refugees are currently the subjects of counterterrorism investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In addition, categorical exceptions and numerous examples of humane circumstances in which case-by-case waivers may be applied are built into the new Executive Order, including family and business hardships, medical issues, persons who have performed valuable service to the U.S. government, etc.  The new Executive Order also fixes the problems of the previous order related to suspensions of persons who already had visas and/or were already in transit – and does not apply to persons in such circumstances.

Further, the new Executive Order no longer suspends entry of Iraqis, because “since Executive Order 13769 was issued, the Iraqi government has expressly undertaken steps to enhance travel documentation, information sharing, and the return of Iraqi nationals subject to final orders of removal.”  Instead decisions about issuance of visas or granting admission to Iraqi nationals are merely to be “subjected to additional scrutiny to determine if applicants have connections with ISIS or other terrorist organizations, or otherwise pose a risk to either national security or public safety.”

In sum, the new Executive Order addresses and fixes perceived problems with prior Executive Order 13769, and, along with the accompanying memorandum, is an important step towards keeping Americans (especially including American Jews) safe.