"Chaos, Panic, Anger, Lawsuits" - The Fallout From Trump's Refugee Ban Begins
Airports Prevent From Boarding Flights...
Iranian Filmmaker Barred From Oscars...
Tehran vows retaliation...
Ban includes green card holders...
Expands power of immigration officers...
GOOGLE Recalls Overseas Staff...
Silicon Sultans Panic...
Fear and rage on US-Mexico border...
Netanyahu hails Trump decision on wall...
Trump's sweeping, and immediately enforced ban on people seeking refuge in the United States and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries which will last at least three months has caused what Reuters dubs "chaos, panic and anger" - as well as lawsuits - not only among travelers on Saturday - with some denied entry to the US and turned back from U.S.-bound flights - but also among US allies such as France and Germany. The bans affect travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and as the DHS confirmed on Saturday, extends to green card holders who are granted authorization to live and work in the United States.
Visitors barred, travellers returned. As the NYT reported on Saturday morning, refugees traveling into the U.S. on Friday night were already being detained at airports following the implementation of the executive order, which immediately closed US borders to refugees. Two Iraqi refugees detained at Kennedy Airport in New York have filed a writ of habeas corpus seeking to be released. They also filed a motion for class certification, to represent all refugees and immigrants being detained at ports of entry.
One of the Iraqis detained at Kennedy Airport, Khalid Darweesh, has worked for the U.S. government in Iraq for 10 years, according to the Times report. The other detainee Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi was arriving to the U.S. to join his wife, a U.S. contractor, and his young son. The men were on separate flights into the U.S.
Complaints about their detainment were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center, Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and the firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. The two men had visas to enter the United States but were detained on Friday night at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, hours after Trump's executive order, the lawsuit said.
At the same time, in Cairo, six Iraqi passengers and one Yemeni were barred from boarding an EgyptAir flight to New York on Saturday, sources at Cairo airport said. The passengers, arriving in transit to Cairo airport, were stopped and re-directed to flights headed for their home countries despite holding valid visas. The officials said the seven migrants, escorted by officials from the U.N. refugee agency, were stopped from boarding the plane after authorities at Cairo airport contacted their counterparts in JFK airport.
Others have also challenged the legality of Trump's order, with immigration lawyers in New York suing to block the order, saying numerous people have already been unlawfully detained.
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Arab fury. The executive order has prompted fury from Arab travelers in the Middle East and North Africa who said it was humiliating and discriminatory. It drew widespread criticism from U.S. Western allies including France and Germany, Arab American groups, human rights organizations.
"This is a stupid, terrible decision which will hurt the American people more than us or anybody else, because it shows that this President can’t manage people, politics or global relationships," said Najeed Haidari, a Yemeni-American security manager for an oil company in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.
Meanwhile, there was confusion at the US border, with customs and border patrol agents at many airports unaware of the executive order early on in the evening, said Mana Yegani, an immigration lawyer in Houston, who works with the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Yegani and her fellow lawyers worked through the night fielding calls from travelers with student and worker visas who were being denied entry into the United States and ordered on flights back to Muslim-majority countries on the list.
Green card holders were also being stopped and questioned for several hours. Officials also denied travelers with dual Canadian and Iranian citizenship from boarding planes in Canada that were headed the United States, she said. "These are people that are coming in legally. They have jobs here and they have vehicles here," Yegani said.
Those with visas from Muslim-majority countries have gone through background checks with U.S. authorities, Yegani noted. "Just because Trump signed something at 6 p.m. yesterday, things are coming to a crashing halt," she said. "It's scary."
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The European outcry has been prompt: France, Germany and Luxembourg all voiced concern on Saturday over Trump's executive action. France and Germany formed a united front Saturday in the face of President Donald Trump's halt in the U.S. refugee program, with the German foreign minister noting that loving thy neighbor forms part of America's Christian traditions. After meeting Saturday, the foreign ministers of both nations, Jean-Marc Ayrault and Germany's Sigmar Gabriel, said they want to meet with Rex Tillerson, Trump's nominee for secretary of state who is still awaiting confirmation.
Speaking at a joint news conference in Paris with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said many of Trump's decisions worried the two U.S. allies, including new immigration restrictions. "This can only worry us, but there are many subjects that worry us," Ayrault said, adding that he would soon invite his future American counterpart Rex Tillerson to Paris to explain Europe's interests, values and vision of the world. "Welcoming refugees who flee war and oppression is part of our duty," Ayrault added.
"The United States is a country where Christian traditions have an important meaning. Loving your neighbor is a major Christian value, and that includes helping people," said Germany's Gabriel, who was on his first trip abroad since his nomination as foreign minister. "I think that is what unites us in the West, and I think that is what we want to make clear to the Americans."
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said Trump's order would have negative consequences. "The American president is dividing the Muslim world into good and evil with this," Asselborn told the Tagesspiegel German newspaper. "The decision is also bad for Europe because it will increase the Muslim world's mistrust and hatred of the West."
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Iran is livid. The country, whose inclusion in the banned list comes at a sensitive time for the Islamic Republic as Trump has opposed the 2015 nuclear deal that lifted sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program, has been quite vocal in its condemnation of the Trump decision. Cited by Al Jazeera, the Iranian foreign ministry has vowed to take reciprocal measures, while the Iranian government called the ban "an insult to the Muslim world."
Iranian officials say they’ll reserve judgment on Trump until he rolls out policies. So the visa ban may be seen as “sending the first signal” as to how the new administration will treat Iran, according to Amir Handjani of the Atlantic Council based in Dubai. Quoted by Bloomberg, he added that it’s likely to be interpreted as a provocation and “a backdoor way” to pressure the Iranian government. The order “certainly doesn’t do anything to convince Iranians that the Trump administration has any interest in reducing tensions with Iran,” said Trita Parsi, author of the forthcoming book “Losing an Enemy - Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy,” and president of the National Iranian American Council. With Iran holding a presidential election in May, any spike in tensions between the foes could swing support behind hardline critics of President Hassan Rouhani. According to Parsi, hardliners will point to Iran’s compromise as part of the nuclear accord and “say ‘look what it generated: this extremely negative response against Iranian people’.”
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As is the UN. As expected, the United Nations refugee agency and International Organization for Migration (IOM) called on the Trump administration on Saturday to continue offering asylum to people fleeing war and persecution, saying its resettlement programme was vital. "The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater and the U.S. resettlement program is one of the most important in the world," the two Geneva-based agencies said in a joint statement. IOM and UNHCR said they remained committed to working with the U.S. administration towards a shared goal of ensuring "safe and secure resettlement and immigration programmes".
"We strongly believe that refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality or race," they said. Resettlement places provided by every country for vulnerable refugees, some of whom require special medical treatment not available in their first country of asylum, are vital, the agencies said. More than 30 countries take part in the programme, which starts with vetting by the UNHCR. The agencies said they hope "the U.S. will continue its strong leadership role and long tradition of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution".
A host of U.S. federal government agencies are involved and extensive background checks are carried out, UNHCR spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci told a briefing. "I think it's fair to say that refugees coming into the United States to be resettled are some of the most vetted individuals entering the United States," she said.
Considering the feud taking place between Trump and the UN in the aftermath of the recent Israeli settlement vote, it is likely that if anything, the UN pressing Trump to unwind his decision will only make him more likely to stick with it.
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Israel approves. While most have criticized Trump's decision, an unexpected supporter emerged in the face of Israel PM Benjamin Natanyahu who tweeted "President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel's southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea."
President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel's southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea 🇮🇱🇺🇸— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) January 28, 2017
The tweet marked a rare public foray for the Israeli leader into a charged American domestic affair. The two leaders spoke earlier this week and Netanyahu is planning to visit Trump in the White House next month. After repeated clashes with President Obama, Netanyahu has high expectations for Trump, who has signaled he will take a kinder approach.
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"He's just getting started." Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway reaffirmed the president's decision in a Twitter post on Saturday. "@POTUS is a man of action and impact. Promises made, promises kept. Shock to the system. And he's just getting started," she tweeted. As someone asked, if this is Trump's action so far, what will his crackdown be after the next terrorist attack:
wondering how much farther this might go after the next big terror attack— Michael Crowley (@michaelcrowley) January 28, 2017
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In summary, this is what has happened in kneejerk reaction to the Trump executive order so far:
- Border ban: Refugees travelling to the US when the order was signed were stopped and detained at airports, per the NYT.
- Return to point of origin: Some green card and visa holders were being blocked from boarding flights to the U.S. Friday night, according to AP. People who had already landed were sequestered at airports and told they have to return to their point of origin.
- Companies scramble: US corporations, most notably Google, have instructed employees traveling abroad with visas or green cards to return immediately.
- Lawsuits begin: National Immigration Law Center warned Trump in a tweet that a court challenge is coming.
- UN urges reconsideration: "The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater and the U.S. resettlement program is one of the most important in the world" said the UN International Organization for Migration
- Allies angry: France and Germany formed a united front Saturday attacking Trump's decision, according to AP.