WASHINGTON: The White House said today it has not called for inclusion of Uzbekistan in the travel ban list, but did not rule this out altogether in the aftermath of the New York terrorist attack which was carried out by a legal immigrant from the Central Asian country.
"That (travel ban) may be something that's looked at but that isn't something that we have called for at this time, but certainly haven't ruled it out," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters during her daily news conference.
Responding to a series of questions, Sanders defended the decision not to originally include Uzbekistan in the list of countries that are part of the travel ban.
"We've outlined multiple times before, those were determinations made by several factors. In large part, Congress helped play a role in determining a lot of those factors, in placing specific priorities on different countries. And that would be the reason that they weren't a part of that," she said.
"There are a lot of different criteria that the US uses to determine which country should be on there (in the list), and they haven't been determined as one of the countries yet.
But I'm saying that hasn't been ruled out either, she added.
In view of the terrorist attack by a legal immigrant who came to the United States through diversity visa, Sanders underscored the importance of extreme vetting.
According to her, some of the specifics for extreme vetting may include enhancing the collection and review of biometric and biographical data and improving information sharing with partner nations and foreign law enforcement and intelligence services.
Hours after the terrorist attack, Trump directed the Department of Homeland Security for "extreme vetting".
Trump also supported the idea of sending the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, to Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention center.
"He wasn't necessarily advocating for it, but he certainly would support it if he felt like that was the best move," Sanders said.
But American Civil Liberties Union, opposed both extreme vetting and sending the terror suspect to Guantanamo.
"Trump's reaction to the tragedy in New York represents a trifecta of unconstitutional and wrong-headed policies. His call for more 'extreme vetting' and an end to the diversity visa program Â— which will unfairly target Muslim and African immigrants Â— would double down on his Muslim ban and anti- immigrant policies," said ACLU executive director Anthony D Romero.
"Sending Saipov to Guantanamo or treating him as an 'enemy combatant' would violate due process and the rule of law...Guantanamo was shown long ago to be an epic failure.
It's a shame that Trump is using this attack as a platform for pushing his anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim agenda," he said.
Several lawmakers are supporting Trump on the issue.
Congressman Mike Rogers said no amount of political correctness from Democrats and the liberal media elite will stop violent Islamic terrorists from trying to kill Americans.
"The attack in New York City yesterday is evidence that everything President Trump is advocating for is exactly right and needed. We must have extreme vetting. We must reform our broken immigration system especially by getting rid of the visa lottery program and chain immigration. And we must secure our borders and that starts with building the wall. Words and feelings won't keep us safe. Actions will," Rogers said.
Congressman Scott DesJarlais, said shocking it is that the country continues to ignore threats of Islamic terror.
"Federal authorities were aware of the attacker's terrorist connections, before he rammed his truck into a peaceful crowd," he said.
"The Orlando and San Bernardino killers also displayed clear warning signs. But open-borders zealots and radical judges deny Americans our most basic right to security. Our refugee and immigration systems must reflect that priority.
Extreme vetting and travel bans are common-sense, constitutional measures to protect the United States. Frequent attacks must not become a way of life," DesJarlais said.