Common Dreams

President Donald Trump on Wednesday will start signing a series of executive orders to fund construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall, slash immigration, and temporarily ban refugees from Syria and six other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The wall order—which will also crack down on sanctuary cities and hire 5,000 more border agents—is expected to come Wednesday, with the others to be rolled out the rest of the week.

The refugee ban will instruct the U.S. to stop issuing visas to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, while the immigration order will “target legal immigrants as early as this week…by halting a decades-old program that grants refuge to the world’s most vulnerable people as he begins the process of drastically curtailing it and enhancing screening procedures,” the New York Times reported.

While the president claims the measures are part of a national security policy, immigrant and refugee rights groups contend that they are nothing more than the institutionalization of Trump’s infamously xenophobic campaign.

“We are aware that these policies serve to demonize and target immigrant communities, as well as erode the hard fought-for protections that we have won over the years,” said Rosi Carrasco of the Chicago-based Organized Communities Against Deportations.

“We are worried that these executive orders also serve as a stepping-stone for more troubling policies that Trump has promised, including registries, raids, and deportations of Arab, Muslim, South Asian, African, and Latinx immigrants,” Carrasco said.

“This will not stand. The American people are better than this.”
—National Iranian American Council

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has estimated that a border wall would cost up to $15 billion to build. Despite Trump’s order, Congress would need to approve any funding for the 1,954-mile long project.

Still, the actions seem to confirm that Trump’s campaign promises, which frequently emboldened election rally-goers to chant “build the wall,” are setting a xenophobic, Islamophobic tone for the new administration.

“Donald Trump is making good on the most shameful and discriminatory promises he made on the campaign trail. He called for a Muslim ban and is now taking the first steps to implement one. This will not stand. The American people are better than this,” said the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). “This is dangerous as it pits Americans against Americans while undermining the very principles of inclusivity and tolerance that define America. We will not be silent and will use every resource at our disposal to fight these shameful actions and protect the values and people who make America great.”

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, also said, “With the Trump administration threatening to repeal federal enforcement priorities and turn local law enforcement into immigration agents, we know that local government will lead the way in creating policies that place community trust and public safety ahead of fear-mongering and attacks on hard-working immigrant families.”

Jewish Voice for Peace also pledged to “defend and fight alongside” communities under attack.

“Decades of racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic policies and discourses around national security, the War on Terror, and immigration have laid the groundwork for this nightmare set of policies designed to target, profile, surveil, and ban people due to their religion, race, national origin, or legal status,” the group said in a statement Wednesday.

Other actions to come this week are expected to include “reviewing whether to resume the once-secret ‘black site’ detention program; keep open the prison at Guantánamo Bay; and designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization,” according to the New York Times.

The orders come as Trump prepares to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.