In the first fallout from President’s Trump’s ban on refugees to the U.S., seven U.S.-bound migrants were stopped from boarding a plane in Cairo early Saturday. In New York, lawyers filed legal challenges after 12 people, including a former Iraqi translator for the U.S. military in Baghdad, were detained at JFK International airport.
Hameed Khaldi Darweesh, who worked a translator for American forces for 10 years, was released Saturday afternoon after being held overnight following his arrival on a flight from Istanbul. He said he feared he would be sent back to Iraq, which his family fled in 2013 because of death threats.
Any doubt that Trump’s move on Muslim immigration?
Trump’s executive order, signed at the Pentagon on Friday, suspends the entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, halts the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely and bars entry for three months to residents from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
I’m suggesting a supplemental fleet of CrybabyCars to handle smaller
tantrums and whining. Even open sobbing and weeping……
See the entire article below.
When asked by reporters outside the airport what he thought of Trump, Darweesh said, “I don’t know. He’s a president, I’m a normal person.”
He said he was focused instead on the lawyers who won his release. “This is the soul of America,” Darweesh said. “This is what pushed me to move, to leave my country and come here. America is the land of freedom.”
Among the 11 still being held at the airport was another Iraqi refugee, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, who was trying to join his wife and child. His wife worked for a U.S. contractor in Iraq as an accountant, was granted a refugee visa and is now living in Houston. Alshawi was approved for a visa to join his wife and their 7-year-old son on Jan. 11.
The ban includes green card holders who are authorized to live and work in the United States, according to Gillian Christensen, a Homeland Security spokeswoman, Reuters reported. It was unclear how many green card holders would be affected, but exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis, the news agency says.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, say they have either filed lawsuits or will do so shortly challenging the ban. “We’ll see you in court, Mr. Trump,” tweeted David Cole, National Legal Director for the ACLU.
Abed Ayoud, legal and policy director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said they’ve received more than 1,000 calls by midday Saturday from people who have been stranded or detai
ned in the U.S. and abroad.
He said legal immigrants who were traveling overseas to attend funerals and visit family when the president signed his order are now unable to return to the U.S.
Foreigners studying at U.S. universities who were part of study abroad programs are also stuck. Even Customs and Border Protection agents are confused about how to handle Trump’s order and responding in different ways, he said.
“The impact of what President Trump was looking for is in full effect,” Ayoud said. “Complete chaos.”
According to a federal complaint filed on behalf of the two Iraqis being held at JFK airport, one attorney approached CBP agents with a request to speak to his client, but was told they were not the ones to talk to about seeing him.
“Who is the person to talk to?” the lawyer asked, according to the complaint. The unidentified CBP agents responded: “Mr. President. Call Mr. Trump.”
According to one of the lawyers, Mark Doss, the pair had been approved for entry as refugees but were in the air flying to the U.S. night when the order was being signed.
The seven travelers at Cairo airport — six from Iraq and one from Yemen — were being escorted by officials from the U.N. refugee agency when they were stopped from boarding the EgyptAir plane, the Associated Press reported, quoting Cairo airport officials.
The authorities stepped in after contacting their counterparts at JFK Airport, where the plane was headed. The officials spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
In related incidents:
— Mohammed Al Rawi, chief information officer for Los Angeles County, said on Facebook that his father was removed from a flight in Qatar as a direct result of the order. “My 71 year old dad is in Qatar boarding LAX flight to come visit us and and he’s being sent back to Iraq. Some US official told him that Trump canceled all visas,” Al Rawi wrote.
— Vera Mironova, a Russian citizen returning from an academic research trip to Iraq, said she had been warned at check-in that she may not be allowed into the U.S. despite holding a green card, The Telegraph reported. “I just talked to Lufthansa guys and since an hour ago they need to inform all people traveling from Iraq about this possibility,” she said before boarding Saturday afternoon, the British newspaper reported.
In signing the executive order, Trump said the new administration needed time to develop a stricter screening process for refugees, immigrants and visitors. “I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. Don’t want them here,” he said.
The executive order, which he said was aimed at protecting Americans from terrorist attacks, singled out Syrian refugees as “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”
When the refugee program resumes, the executive order calls for changes to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”
“We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people,” Trump said.
CAIR said it will file a federal lawsuit Monday in the Eastern District of Virginia to challenge the constitutionality of the order, charging its apparent purpose and underlying motive is to ban people of the Islamic faith from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
“There is no evidence that refugees – the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation – are a threat to national security,” said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena F. Masri. “This is an order that is based on bigotry, not reality.”
Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, one of the groups representing the Iraqi men, said the lawsuit is directed solely at immigrants who have been caught in legal limbo following Trump’s announcement. The lawyers are trying to expand it into a class action suit to cover the untold number of refugees caught in the same situation.
Hincapié said they are planning separate lawsuits challenging the legality of Trump’s executive actions on immigration, partly because they target majority Muslim nations. But she said for now, they simply want to resolve the cases of people who are being detained at airports. They are trying to get an emergency hearing before a judge this weekend.
“These are people who already had a horrific experience of being a refugee,” she said. “They left everything behind. And now, to find themselves in detention at an airport with no contacts, not knowing what can be done, only hearing little bits and pieces on the news about this executive order. I think folks are just scared and don’t know how to respond at this moment.”
Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council told the AP on Saturday that Trump’s temporary ban “will not make America safer, it will make America smaller and meaner.”
Egeland says the decision dealt a “mortal blow” to the idea of international responsibility for those fleeing persecution. He says the U.S. is leading a “race to the bottom” in which politicians in wealth countries provide “zero moral leadership.”