Trump Travel Restrictions Leave Refugees Stranded

Story by NBC News
Written by Erik Ortiz and Eoghan MacGuire

Less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order clamping down on refugee admissions and temporarily restricting travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries - Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya - the impact appears to already be resonating at airports around the world.

There was confusion Saturday at New York City's Kennedy International Airport where 12 people were detained, according to lawmakers and attorneys who are trying to get them freed.

Two of the dozen are Iraqi refugees, and one of them — identified as Hameed Khalid Darweesh — was freed Saturday after he was first detained 6 p.m. Friday, said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

"I am very, very thankful to all the people who can support," Darweesh told reporters as he was surrounded by supporters carrying signs that read "Refugees welcome." "America is the greatest nation. America is the greatest people in the world."

Nadler said it was unclear why Darweesh was released while the other 11 remained detained at the airport Saturday afternoon. They would be transferred to an immigration detention center in New Jersey where they could meet with immigration lawyers, Nadler added.

Human rights attorneys could not immediately say which additional affected countries — Syria, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen or Libya — the other detained refugees come from.

"This should not be happening in America," Nadler told reporters. "The executive order is a gross violation of our standards, our norms and the spirit of our Constitution."

Darweesh, an interpreter working on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq from 2003 to 2013, received a special Iraqi immigrant visa to relocate to the United States last week with his family, attorneys said.

Although Darweesh was detained upon arrival into the United States, his family was not, showing how "arbitrary" the executive order can be, they added.

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) earlier told NBC News that it was part of a group attempting to secure the release of the two Iraqi refugees.

They were identified in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union as Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, whose wife and child are lawful permanent residents of Houston.

Alshawi is on a "follow to join" visa, according to the ACLU.

The New York Times first reported early Saturday that the two men, who arrived on different flights, were held after the executive orders came into effect at midnight.

The American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) also said it was receiving reports that "green card holders and other visa holders have been denied boarding and admission into the United States" at airports. NBC News was unable to immediately verify the ADC's claims, and calls requesting further information went unanswered.

Mohammed Al Rawi, a Los Angeles County employee, said on Facebook that his 69-year-old Iraqi father was turned away from his connecting flight in Qatar before he could leave for Los Angeles. His passport was taken and he was sent back to Baghdad, Al Rawi wrote.

"He's a senior. Why would anyone feel threatened by someone like him?" Al Rawi asked. "This actually makes us as a country look bad. ... I am generally concerned about all US citizens in the Middle East. Targeting Muslims this way puts people in horrible situations."

In Cairo, Egypt, two sources close to airport security told NBC News that an Iraqi family of five from the city of Erbil had been prevented from boarding a flight to New York.

NBC News was unable to immediately confirm whether this was related to the travel restrictions. A United Nations refugee agency spokesperson referred questions on the Iraqi family to U.S. authorities.

'Harmful and hasty'

Trump's executive order suspended admission of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days. It also indefinitely bans refugees from Syria and restricts entry to the country for people from six other predominantly-Muslim nations for 90 days.

In signing the order, Trump pledged to "keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America."

The International Rescue Committee called the decision to halt the U.S. refugee resettlement program a "harmful and hasty" decision.

Meanwhile, the United Nations refugee agency and International Organization for Migration called on the Trump administration to continue offering asylum to people fleeing war and persecution, saying its resettlement program was vital.

In Paris Saturday, French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Trump's orders "can only worry us."

"Welcoming refugees who flee war and oppression is part of our duty," Ayrault added in comments carried by Reuters.

Qatar Airways issued a statement on its website that said nationals from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya may only travel to the U.S. if they are in possession of a resident green card or specific visas usually granted to government employees, individuals traveling to the United Nations or employees of international organizations.

It said the information was "per an Immigration Advisory Notice from U.S Customs and Border Protection with regards to new U.S immigration entry requirements."

Tech giant Google also issued a statement Saturday revealing its worries about the executive actions.

"We're concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US," the statement read. "We'll continue to make our views on these issues known to leaders in Washington and elsewhere


Anonymous privat said...

Trump's ban had nothing to do with "Keeping America Safe."

The Volokh ConspiracyOpinion
Was Trump’s executive order an impeachable offense?
By David Post January 30 at 10:34 AM
Link To Article https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/01/30/was-trumps-executive-order-an-impeachable-offense/?utm_term=.1e889bebc42c
Quoted Excerpt
Here’s the list of predominantly Muslim countries where the Trump Organization has done business:
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan.
What a coincidence; there’s no overlap. The places where the Trump Organization has done business are exempted from the ban.
Even Saudi Arabia, for goodness’ sake! The one country we know for certain has allowed, if it did not actively encourage, emigrants who attacked the United States on 9/11. But Trump has business interests in Saudi Arabia, and a guy shouldn’t have to give up his business interests just because he’s going into “public service,” now should he?

1/30/2017 03:40:00 pm  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home