“Don’t become hysterical and look at what has been decided”

The Secretary of State responsible for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken (Flemish nationalist) says that he has understanding for the migration measures taken by the American President Donald Trump. However, Mr Francken adds that he also has his reservations. "It is rather arbitrary, but it above all forms part of the United States' geopolitical agenda.

Mr Trump signed a decree on Friday which means that no new refugees will be allowed into the US for the next four months. In the meantime President Trump wants a system of checks to be developed that will should ensure that terrorists are no longer allowed to enter the country.

"It is important not to become hysterical and to look at what has been decided. Flying-in refugees has been temporarily put on hold. However, as I understand it he still intends to take 50,000 refugees per annum. Obama took 70,000 and now it is to be 50,000. There are a lot of Democrat presidents that did a lot less. We need to put it in to perspective as it certainly isn’t the case that the United States won’t be taking on any more refugees”.

Will the decision have an impact on Belgium?

In addition to the ban on Muslim refugees, President Trump also announced that no visas will be issued to people from Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia for the next three months. Furthermore, no visas will be issued to Syrian for an indefinite period.

"The United States are going screen a number of countries, including Belgium”, Mr Francken told VRT News.

"Over the next 90 days they will look and whether Belgium shares enough information with the US. If that isn’t the case we will have a problem”.

The big difference is of course that in the meantime Belgians are still allowed to enter the United States while the citizens of 7 other countries aren’t.

Mr Francken also said that legal issues could arise if the ban is also being applied to those that had already be granted a green card.

"They back up their decision with concerns about islamist terror stemming from Salafism, what of course exists there. However, this is also the case in Saudi-Arabia and Qatar, but they are geopolitical allies of the United States in the Middle East. It is rather arbitrary and you can certainly question it, but it is what it is”, Mr Francken concluded.