Executive orders all set to go

Trump likely to take immediate action on immigration, healthcare and trade policy

US President Donald Trump, with US First Lady Melania Trump, waves as he arrives in front of the White House for the presidential inaugural parade on Jan 20, 2017, in Washington, DC. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump's first day in the White House will see him prepare to sign executive actions to take the opening steps to crack down on immigration, build a wall on the US-Mexico border and roll back his predecessor Barack Obama's policies.

Aides said he will not wait to wield one of the most powerful tools of his office, the presidential pen, to sign those executive actions that can be implemented without the input of Congress.

These would include giving official notice that he plans to withdraw from the 12-nation Trans- Pacific Partnership trade deal and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said on Thursday.

"He is committed to not just Day 1, but Day 2, Day 3 of enacting an agenda of real change, and I think that you are going to see that in the days and weeks to come," Mr Spicer said, telling reporters to expect activity over the next few days.

While Mr Trump's advisers have vetted more than 200 potential executive orders for him to consider signing on healthcare, climate policy, immigration, energy and other issues, it is not clear how many he will initially approve, said a member of the Trump transition team, who is not authorised to talk to the press.

Also, his aides have yet to clarify how many of his first moves will be actual executive actions that will take effect immediately and how many will be grand proclamations that may take time to fully implement.

Mr Spicer said that repealing the sweeping healthcare reform law known as Obamacare, immigration and battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group are "key issues" likely to come up sooner rather than later.

Signing off on orders puts Mr Trump, who has presided over a sprawling business empire but has never before held public office, in a familiar place similar to the chief executive role that made him famous, and will give him some early victories before he has to turn to the lumbering process of getting Congress to pass Bills.

The strategy has been used by other presidents, including Mr Obama, in their first weeks in office.

"He wants to show he will take action and not be stifled by Washington gridlock," said Princeton University presidential historian Julian Zelizer.

Mr Trump is also expected to sign an executive order in his first few days to direct the building of a wall on the border with Mexico, and actions to limit the entry of asylum seekers from Latin America, among several immigration- related measures his advisers have recommended.

That includes rescinding Mr Obama's order that allowed more than 700,000 people brought into the US illegally as children to remain in the country on a two-year authorisation to work and attend college, said several people close to the transition team.

Advisers to Mr Trump also expect him to put restrictions on people entering the US from certain countries until a system for "extreme vetting" for Muslim extremists can be set up.

During the presidential campaign, Mr Trump proposed banning non-American Muslims from entering the US, but his executive order on immigration is expected to be based on nationality, not religion.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2017, with the headline Executive orders all set to go. Subscribe