The Latest: Aid chief says refugee ban makes US small, mean

CAIRO (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

The head of a leading refugee aid agency says President Donald Trump’s decision to ban Syrian refugees hurts innocents fleeing violence.

Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council tells The Associated Press on Saturday that Trump’s decision “will not make America safer, it will make America smaller and meaner.”

Trump on Friday suspended refugee admissions for four months and indefinitely banned those from war-torn Syria, pending program changes that are to ensure refugees won’t harm national security.

Egeland says the decision dealt a “mortal blow” to the idea of international responsibility for those fleeing persecution. He says the U.S. is leading a “race to the bottom” in which politicians in wealth countries provide “zero moral leadership.”


1 p.m.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says the time has come for removing walls between nations rather that building new ones.

Rouhani did not name any particular country but his remarks come shortly after President Donald Trump’s executive order Friday suspending all immigration and visa processes for nationals from a handful of countries with terrorism concerns, including Iran, for 90 days.

Rouhani said Saturday that, “It is not the day for creating distance among nations.”

Speaking at a tourism conference broadcast on state TV, Rouhani said that those seeking to create such walls, “have forgotten that the Berlin Wall collapsed years ago.”


12:30 p.m.

The International Rescue Committee is calling President Donald Trump’s suspension of the U.S. refugee resettlement program a “harmful and hasty” decision.

In a statement issued late Friday night after the suspension was announced, IRC President David Miliband said, “America must remain true to its core values. America must remain a beacon of hope.”

The IRC statement declared that the U.S. vetting process for prospective refugees is already robust — involving biometric screening and up to 36 months of vetting by “12 to 15 government agencies.”

Miliband praised The United States’ record as a resettlement destination and said, “This is no time for America to turn its back on people ready to become patriotic Americans.”