President Trump ordered the State Department on Friday to suspend the U.S. refugee program, bar all legal immigrants from Syria and other countries that support terrorism, and develop "extreme vetting" measures for immigrants from those countries.
Trump announced the order during a speech at the Pentagon, where he said the order was designed to keep "radical Islamic terrorists" out of the United States. Doing so, he said, is one way to honor the sacrifices made by Americans who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, and those fighting terrorism around the world.
"We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas," he said. "We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people."
The executive order, released late Friday, shuts down the U.S. refugee program for 120 days to give State time to review the program and the way it screen applicants. Even after the program is restarted, however, the order bars all Syrians from entering the U.S.
"I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States," the order read.
The order also bars for 60 days any kind of legal immigration from countries deemed to be aiding terrorist organizations. That includes three countries on the State Department's State Sponsors of Terrorism list - Iran, Sudan and Syria. Other countries could also be included on that list.
The order drew widespread condemnation from Democrats, immigrant and civil rights groups around the world.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-N.Y., said: "Make no mistake - this is a Mulsim ban." Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said: "Tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight."
David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said the order was completely unnecessary since the U.S. already has the "strongest, most successful" resettlement program in the world.
"In truth, refugees are fleeing terror — they are not terrorists," Miliband said. "And at a time when there are more refugees than ever, America must remain true to its core values. America must remain a beacon of hope."
Many also pointed to a 2015 tweet sent by Vice President Pence where he blasted proposals to ban Muslims from the U.S.
"Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional," the then-governor of Indiana wrote.
Congressional Republicans said they would work with Trump to implement the new vetting procedures. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, described the U.S. refugee program as a "Trojan Horse" for would-be terrorists that had been ignored by President Obama.
"President Trump signed an order to help prevent jihadists from infiltrating the United States," McCaul said. "With the stroke of a pen, he is doing more to shut down terrorist pathways into this country than the last administration did in eight years."
President Obama had increased the refugee resettlement program during his time in office, increasing the cap from 60,000 to 70,000 to 85,000 in 2016. He reserved 10,000 of those spots for refugees from Syria.
While Trump has claimed that most Syrian refugees coming to the U.S are single, military-age men, the State Department said those numbers didn't add up. As of Nov. 2015, 77% of Syrian refugees who entered the U.S. were women and children. Only 23% were adult men, and only 2% were "single men unattached to families."
Local faith leaders concerned about executive order
Faith leaders gathered at Augustana Lutheran Church in Northeast Portland on Friday. One of those was Kayse Jama who came to the United States from Somalia.
"I came here for safety and security and that has been taken away from me today," he said.