January 25, 2017 7:54 pm
Updated: January 25, 2017 11:14 pm

Donald Trump’s move to halt immigration from 7 Muslim-majority countries sparks furor

WATCH: A massive crowd of protesters formed in New York City's Washington Park Wednesday evening to protest Donald Trump's executive orders on immigration.

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Protesters gathered in New York’s Washington Square Park Wednesday evening to voice opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order that imposes a temporary ban on most refugees and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries.

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Making good on campaign promises, Trump is expected to sign executive orders blocking visas to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, all Muslim-majority nations, according to several congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter.

READ MORE: Donald Trump set to slam door on immigrants from 7 countries

Trump, who took office last Friday, is also expected to order a multi-month ban on allowing refugees into the United States except for religious minorities escaping persecution, until more aggressive vetting is in place, said the aides and experts, who asked not to be identified.

The administration’s aim is to head off Islamist violence in the United States, but critics say the measures soil America’s reputation as a welcoming place for immigrants of all kinds.

WATCH: ‘No ban, no wall, New Yorkers for all’: council on American-Islamic relations organizes protest Trump’s orders on immigration

“The president needs to know he’s an absolute fool for fostering this kind of hostility in his first few days. This will inflame violence against Americans around the world,” said Seth Kaper-Dale, a pastor at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, New Jersey, which he said helped resettle 28 refugee and asylum-seeking families in the state last year.

Before his Nov. 8 election victory, Trump, a Republican, pledged to stop taking refugees from Syria and immigrants from countries deemed to pose a terrorism risk.

WATCH: Islamic group calls Trump’s anti-Muslim immigration plan a ‘fearmongering’ tactic

“Muslims, we believe, are the sole targets of these orders,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group.
“These orders are a disturbing confirmation of Islamophobic and un-American policy proposals made during the presidential election campaign,” Awad told a news conference in Washington. “Never before in our country’s history have we purposely, as a matter of policy, imposed a ban on immigrants or refugees on the basis of religion.”

WATCH: Jewish group says Trump’s executive order to ban immigration is racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab

During the campaign, Trump originally proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the country, a measure that almost certainly would have faced legal challenges for discrimination on the basis of religion. He later altered his stance to target countries known to be sources of terrorism.

“Actions to build a wall around us, criminalize a religion, and to strike fear in the heart of immigrants make Trump’s America look more like a police state than the republic we truly are,” Wade Henderson, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement.

WATCH: Islamic advocacy group says Trump’s anti-Muslim immigration plan will stigmatize Islamic community

© 2017 Thomson Reuters

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