For the first time, the Trump administration has indicated that Pakistan could be included in a list of Muslim-majority countries from where immigration to the US has been banned by President Donald Trump.
“The reason we chose those seven countries was, 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,” White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said.
Trump’s controversial executive order, signed on Friday, halted the entire US refugee programme for 120 days, indefinitely banned Syrian refugees, and suspended all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Somalia.
“Now, you can point to other countries that have similar problems, like Pakistan and others. Perhaps we need to take it further. But for now, immediate steps, pulling the Band-Aid off, is to do further vetting for people traveling in and out of those countries,” Priebus told CBS News.
This is for the first time that the Trump Administration has publicly acknowledged about considering putting Pakistan into that list.
Currently the executive order says that visitors from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan are subject to “extreme vetting”.
Priebus said the executive orders were signed after a lot of planning.
“We’re not going to advertise to the world that we’re going to put a stop or at least a further vetting on travel in and out of our country from these seven places,” Priebus said.
“Some people have suggested, that, well, maybe we should have given everyone a three-day warning. But that would just mean that a terrorist would just move up their travel plans by three days. Identifying too many people in these countries and giving them a heads-up in these countries would only potentially flag the executive order for bad order,” he said.
“The President has a call with leadership in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and other countries around world. And I’m sure this topic may come up,” he said.
Priebus asserted that Americans have to be protected first.
“These are countries that harbour and train terrorists. These are countries that we want to know who is coming and going in and out of to prevent calamities from happening in this country,” he said.
“We’re not willing to be wrong on this subject. President Trump is not willing to take chances on this subject. He was elected president in many respects because people knew that he was going to be tough on immigration from countries that harbour terrorists,” Priebus said.
“I can’t imagine too many people out there watching this right now think it’s unreasonable to ask a few more questions from someone traveling in and out of Libya and Yemen before being let loose in the United States. And that’s all this is,” he said.