Human Rights

Internal dissent over Trump travel ban

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has defended US President Donald Trump's immigration order. (AAP)

A senior official says about 900 US State Department officials have signed an internal dissent memo critical of President Donald Trump's travel ban.

About 900 US State Department officials are said to have signed an internal dissent memo protesting a travel ban by US President Donald Trump on refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

A senior State Department official has confirmed the memorandum has been submitted to acting Secretary of State Tom Shannon through the department's "dissent channel," a process in which officials can express unhappiness over policy.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Monday he was aware of the memo but warned career diplomats they should either "get with the program or they can go."

A draft of the dissent memo seen by Reuters news agency argues that the executive order would sour relations with affected countries, inflame anti-American sentiment and hurt those who sought to visit the United States for humanitarian reasons.

It said the policy "runs counter to core American values of non-discrimination, fair play and extending a warm welcome to foreign visitors and immigrants.

Trump on Friday signed an executive order that temporarily bans refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries, sparking tumult at US airports and protests in major American cities.

The ban affects Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Even before the executive order on immigration was issued, concern among State Department officials had been growing over news reports Trump was about to ease sanctions against Russia, one State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The resignation of at least four top State Department officials, including Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy, who formally left the department on Tuesday, also caused some unease among diplomats who worried about a power vacuum.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch