AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton has voiced support of President Donald Trump’s latest executive order regarding immigration.
“President Trump’s action shows decisiveness in answer to a very real danger, and I appreciate his efforts to protect the safety and security of Texans and all Americans,” Paxton was quoted as saying in a written statement that was issued Monday.
This is the second move by the president to reduce the likelihood of terrorists getting into the U.S. through the refugee program.
“The screening and vetting protocols and procedures associated with the visa-issuance process and the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) play a crucial role in detecting foreign nationals who may commit, aid, or support acts of terrorism and in preventing those individuals from entering the United States,” according to the order. “It is therefore the policy of the United States to improve the screening and vetting protocols and procedures associated with the visa-issuance process and the USRAP.”
Paxton said the executive order was a direct response to what has been seen as a weakness in the refugee vetting process, “which was identified to Congress by multiple federal officials, but left unaddressed by the Obama administration," Paxton's statement said.
“In light of the looming threat of terrorism, the president has both the constitutional authority and solemn duty to take reasonable steps in securing our border,” Paxton stated in the written statement.
Trump issued the first executive order preventing entry to the U.S. from several countries including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.
According to the order, “These are countries that had already been identified as presenting heightened concerns about terrorism and travel to the United States.”
The order indicates that even members of Congress have voiced their concerns about the screening and vetting procedures especially following terrorists attack in Europe and on American soil.
Despite an outcry from opponents of the order, Trump said he was acting within the jurisdiction of his position.
In particular, Article II of the Constitution and under section 212(f) of the INA, which the president said gives him the authority to suspend entry of “aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants” for as long as “he may deem to be appropriate.”
Trump said he took such action because terrorists had been trying to get into the U.S. through its refugee program. However, he also indicated that there may be exceptions.
“I permitted the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security to jointly grant case-by-case waivers when they determined that it was in the national interest to do so,” the order states.
In the recent executive order, the president indicates he was focusing on terrorism with the initial order, not religion.
“While that order allowed for prioritization of refugee claims from members of persecuted religious minority groups, that priority applied to refugees from every nation, including those in which Islam is a minority religion, and it applied to minority sects within a religion. That order was not motivated by animus toward any religion, but was instead intended to protect the ability of religious minorities – whoever they are and wherever they reside – to avail themselves of the USRAP in light of their particular challenges and circumstances,” the order states.
Hawaii has already indicated it would be filing a legal challenge to President Trump’s latest executive order.