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Trump's Refugee Plan Will Prioritize Christians Suffering Religious Persecution

Parents pick up their children at Naranca Elementary in El Cajon, Calif., in October 2016. The school is one of many in the San Diego suburb that has received an influx of Syrian refugees.

President Trump has signed a flurry of executive orders during his first week in office and apparently he isn't done yet. He is expected to sign a series of executive actions related to national security as early as Friday. One is related to combating ISIS and others will impact U.S. refugee policy, according to a White House official.

NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports that the actions include a 120-day moratorium on any new refugees entering the United States to give the government time to come up with a plan that prioritizes Christians suffering from religious persecution.

Another action would indefinitely block new Syrian refugees from entering the United States. There will be a 30-day ban on immigration from seven countries with predominantly Muslim populations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Sudan.

The Associated Press reports that Trump will order the Pentagon and State Department to come up with a plan to provide safe zones in Syria and the surrounding region for Syrians denied visas to enter the U.S.

The United States admitted 84,995 refugees in fiscal year 2016, 12,587 of them from Syria, according to the Pew Research Center.

President Obama had proposed allowing 110,000 refugees into the United States in 2017. But Trump plans to limit that number to 50,000, according to the New York Times.

A moratorium on admitting Syrian refugees is appropriate, say advocates for immigration limits.

"Taking a temporary pause in refugee admissions is a prudent and effective approach to ensuring that national security vetting is in place and working," David Ray, communications director for the Washington, D.C.-based Federation for American Immigration Reform told the Los Angeles Times.

But Karen Ferguson, executive director of the International Rescue Committee in Oakland, Calif., said Trump's plan is "tantamount to a Muslim ban."

In an email she said, "The proposed pause would force refugees who already went through the rigorous screening process and who were set to arrive in the United States soon to instead wait months and even years to go through fingerprinting, interviews, health screenings, and multiple security checks all over again, all while their lives are in danger."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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