“This is big stuff,” the new US president declared at the Pentagon on Friday, after signing an executive order entitled “Protection of the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.”
Donald Trump signed the executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The decree suspends the entire US refugee resettlement program for at least 120 days while tough vetting rules are established.
The new protocols “ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.” In addition, they specifically bar Syrian refugees from the United States indefinitely, or until the president himself decides that they no longer pose a threat. Meanwhile, no visas will be issued for 90 days to migrants or visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The executive order implicitly stated that (without mentioning either Islam or Muslims):
Detentions Already Underway At US Airports
US authorities wasted no time implementing Trump’s order, detaining travellers arriving at American airports within hours of the measures being signed, media reports said. The New York Times reported that airport officials as early as Friday night began detaining travellers, some of whom were already aboard their flights when Trump announced his executive order.
The order also lays the groundwork for what Trump has pledged will be “extreme vetting” of visa applicants’ backgrounds -- with some exceptions for members of “religious minorities,” a caveat many see as a way to apply favourable treatment to Christians from majority-Muslim states.
US rights groups filed a legal challenge Saturday after two Iraqi men were detained Friday night at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against US President Donald Trump's executive order.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups are seeking the men’s release on grounds that they are being held unlawfully, and asked that they be freed so they could at least request asylum and avoid being sent back to Iraq.
The groups asked for their suit to be considered a class action on behalf of all people held up in the same way. The two Iraqi men have valid visas, the documents stated. One of them had worked for the US government in Iraq for 10 years and the other was coming to America to join his wife, who had worked for a US contractor, the lawsuit said.
Mark Doss, a supervising lawyer at the International Refugee Project at the Urban Justice Center, said Darweesh’s detention and release showed the new policy was being implemented “with no guidance.”
Soros-financed Immigration advocacy groups issued an appeal for demonstrations at JFK airport, which spread rapidly over social media. According to Camille Mackler of the New York Immigration Coalition, two New York lawmakers went to the airport to try to gain access to the men.
International groups and civil liberties organisations have roundly condemned Trump’s orders. “’Extreme vetting’ is just a euphemism for discriminating against Muslims,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Romero said Trump’s order breached the US constitution’s ban on religious discrimination by choosing countries with Muslim majorities for tougher treatment. Many foreign leaders said they were aghast over the new US policy.
Iran answered in kind by saying it would ban Americans from entering the country, calling Trump’s action insulting. But the US leader did get backing from Czech President Milos Zeman, who praised him for being “concerned with the safety of his citizens.”
Mr Trump’s order also said Iraqi citizens, as well as people from six other Middle Eastern countries, cannot enter the US for 90 days, and suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days until it is reinstated “only for nationals of countries for whom” members of Mr Trump’s Cabinet deem can be properly vetted.
|Seven Muslim nations whose citizens are banned from entering USA by Trump order.|
Zuckerberg Slams Trump’s Muslim Ban
It comes as Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg - who is building a massive wall around his land in Hawaii - hit out at Mr Trump’s executive order, saying in a lengthy Facebook post that “the United States is a nation of immigrants, and we should be proud of that.”
Still, some Muslim countries were spared from Mr Trump’s blacklist, even though they have clear ties to terrorism. According to the New York Daily News, Mr Trump doesn’t hold any business interests in any of the countries on the list, but holds major stakes in several of those excluded from it, records show.
According to statistics tallied by the conservative-leaning Cato Institute, not one American was killed on US soil by citizens from any of those countries between 1975 and 2015.
However, the same set of statistics show that nearly 3000 Americans were killed by citizens from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Turkey in the same time period — with the bulk of those killed being victims of the September 11 attacks. Yet, people from those four countries are still able to apply for US visas and travel permits.
New restrictions on immigrants and refugees will mean legal permanent US residents, also known as green cards holders, from Syria and six other Muslim- majority countries will also have to be cleared into the country on a case-by-case basis, a senior US administration official said,
*French President Francois Hollande: “Europe is facing a moment of truth. The issue is populism. What we are hearing from the US encourages populism and even extremism. They are saying that Europe should not take immigrants, shouldn’t stay together, not believe in climate change.
*Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”
*Israel President Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that Israel’s wall along its border with Egypt had stemmed a swell of African migrants: “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”
*Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim: “You cannot settle this (refugee) issue by building walls. Nobody leaves their homes for nothing.” Turkey has admitted some 3 million Syrian refugees since the start of the war in its neighbour. “They came here to save their lives and our doors were open. And if the same thing happened again, we would do it again.”
*German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel: “Love thy neighbour’ is part of this tradition, the act of helping others.”
*UK Prime Minister Theresa May: “The United States is responsible for the United States’ policy on refugees.”
*Far-right Dutch populist Geert Wilders, whose party is polling strongly ahead of the country’s March 15 election, said in a tweet: “No immigrants from Islamic countries.”
*Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said the new US President had “forgotten the Berlin Wall fell years ago” as he attacked the planned construction, aimed at tackling illegal immigration. “Today is not the time to erect walls between nations,” he said in a speech carried live on Iranian state television.
*Berlin’s mayor Michael Mueller said his city, which was divided from 1961 to 1989, “cannot look on without comment when a country plans to build a new wall”. “We Berliners know best how much suffering the division of a continent, cemented by barbed wire and concrete, caused,” he said.
|Israeli barrier (wall) on Egypt border.|
It comes as an Iraqi family was barred from flying from Cairo to New York overnight, airport officials said. The husband, wife and two children, who had American visas and reserved seats on an EgyptAir flight, were informed that they could not board because of the new regulation, the officials said.
But an EgyptAir official said the airline had not yet been formally notified of the new regulations. The family had been barred after a flight manifest was sent to New York’s JFK airport, which responded with instructions that the Iraqi family was not to board. The airline’s website did not provide updated travel advice for the United States.
Qatar Airways, one of the largest Middle East airlines, said on its website that citizens of those seven countries could still travel to the United States if they had a permanent residence permit. The Qatari travel alert said government officials and their immediate family members, as well as representatives of international organisations were exempt from the restrictions.
Iranian Film Director To Miss Oscars Afetr The Ban
The Muslim banned has affected a film director and nominee who now won’t be able to attend the ceremony in February. Iranian movie director Asghar Farhadi, 45, made The Salesman last year which is up for best foreign language film at the Academy Awards — a gong he previously won in 2012, reports The Sun.
However, the president of the US’ largest Iranian-American grassroots organisation has claimed the decorated director won’t be able to get into the country because of a new ban issued by the White House.
Trita Parsi, from the National Iranian American Council, took to Twitter to say: “Confirmed: Iran’s Asghar Farhadi won’t be let into the US to attend Oscars. He’s nominated for best foreign language film.”