Outcry over US airport detentions
Trump’s order ‘un-American’
TWO judges temporarily blocked President Donald Trump’s administration from enforcing parts of his order to halt immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries, after a day in which students, refugees and dual citizens were stuck overseas, or detained, and some businesses warned employees from those countries not to risk leaving the US.
A nationwide ruling in Brooklyn, New York, barring refugees and visa holders already legally in the US from being turned back, came hours after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups sued to halt the January 27 order.
A separate order in Alexandria, Virginia, forbid the government from removing about 60 legal permanent residents of the US who were being detained at Dulles International Airport.
Neither ruling strikes down the executive order, which will now be subject to court hearings.
The Department of Homeland Security, which runs the Customs and Border Protection agency, said yesterday it would comply with judicial orders, but that the government retained the right to revoke visas for reasons of national or public safety.
There were wrenching scenes – and angry protests – at major airports across the country before the court orders were issued. At LA International Airport, a lawyer reported that an 80-year-old insulin-dependent visitor was being held by officials and had no contact with her worried family.
Shane Moss, a 38-year-old from Missouri, was returning from Thailand with his girlfriend, a dietitian and joint Canadian-Iranian citizen with a valid work visa, when they were forced to separate. Hours later, he had not heard from her.
“They won’t tell me anything,” Moss said. “I’m worn out.”
At New York’s JFK Airport, thousands protested outside the international arrivals terminal chanting, “Let them in!” and “No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcome here!”
Some business executives, especially in the technology sector, also expressed outrage.
Netflix Inc chief executive Reed Hastings posted on Facebook: “Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American. Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe.”
The executive order, issued on Friday, bars citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, from entering the US for the next three months in an effort to stop terrorists and gain hold of the immigration system.
The order also halts refugee resettlement to the US for 120 days, and orders that refugee admissions for this year be cut down to 50 000 from the planned limit of 110 000.
Trump and his aides said those who opposed the order were overreacting and misinterpreting. “It’s not a Muslim ban,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office. “We were totally prepared. It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over. It’s working out very nicely.”
At least a dozen people were being held at JFK, including 10 Iranians, Andre Segura, a lawyer with the ACLU said.
The outcry from leaders abroad was swift. In a phone call with Trump on Saturday, French President Francois Hollande said defending democracy “requires observing fundamental principles”, among them welcoming refugees.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif promised reciprocal measures, though he said anyone with a valid visa would be welcomed “unlike the US”. The US move “will be recorded in history as a great gift to extremists and their supporters,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.
Elon Musk, the billionaire chief executive of Tesla Motors Inc, who was one of a dozen business leaders who met Trump on Monday, wrote on Twitter: “Many people negatively affected by this policy are strong supporters of the US. They’ve done right, not wrong and don’t deserve to be rejected.”
Criticism of Trump’s executive order emerged from both the left and the right. Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration-policy analyst at the conservative Cato Institute, wrote a post before the order was signed saying that foreigners from the seven nations affected by the ban had “killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks on US soil between 1975 and 2015”.
Senator Tim Kaine, the Virginia Democrat who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate, said Trump had “defied everything our nation stands for”.
Hillary Clinton, who lost to Trump in the presidential election, said on Twitter: “I stand with the people gathered across the country tonight defending our values & our Constitution. This is not who we are.”
Rosalie Gurna, 9, joins hundreds of protesters denouncing the travel ban from Muslim-majority countries, after it was enacted by US President Donald Trump recently, outside the international terminal at LA International Airport in Los Angeles on Saturday.
President Donald Trump speaks to German Chancellor Angela Merkel from the Oval Office at the White House at the weekend.