US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order for construction of a wall on the border with Mexico, pushing ahead with a key pledge made during his election campaign.
Outlining a tough new policy, Trump also moved to strip federal funding from “sanctuary” states and cities in the US that harbor illegal immigrants, Reuters reports.
In the first order, federal officials were directed to immediately begin work on planning, designing and constructing a multibillion-dollar wall along the roughly 2,000-mile US-Mexico border.
The White House said the wall would stem the flow of drugs, crime and illegal immigration into the United States.
“We are in the middle of a crisis on our southern border: The unprecedented surge of illegal migrants from Central America is harming both Mexico and the United States,” Trump said.
Mexico would pay back to the United States “100 percent” of the costs, he said, though Mexican officials have said they will not pay for the wall.
Trump made cracking down on illegal immigration a key element of his presidential campaign, with supporters at his rallies often chanting: “Build the wall.”
The president’s directives Wednesday included hiring 5,000 more Customs and Border Protection agents and tripling the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Meanwhile, Trump is also said to be preparing a draft order that would temporarily suspend US visa issuance for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Also, authorities plan to suspend a US refugee program for four months while determining whether permanent changes to the system are needed.
The intent of the proposals regarding refugees and immigrants from the seven Muslim-majority nations is to head off Islamist violence in the United States, White House officials say.
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