President Donald Trump’s sweeping ban on people seeking refuge in the United States and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries caused confusion among travelers on Saturday, with some turned back from U.S.-bound flights. Mr Trump suspended refugee admissions to the country as part of measures he claimed would “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the US”.
Trump’s ban puts a 90-day pause on visas and immigration from seven countries including Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. The order also puts a 120-day ban on all refugee entries into the country and declares that refugees from Syria are not welcome until further notice. After that period of time, refugees will be accepted only from countries that the State and Homeland Security Departments decide are safe to work with.
The ban extends to green card holders who are authorized to live and work in the United States, according to Gillian Christensen, a Homeland Security spokeswoman.It was unclear how many green card holders would be affected, but exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis.
The New York Times has reported that on Saturday two Iraqi refugees were detained at Kennedy Airport in New York City when their flight landed after the executive order had been signed. The lawyers said that one of the Iraqis detained at Kennedy Airport, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, had worked on behalf of the United States government in Iraq for 10 years. The other, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, was coming to the United States to join his wife, who had worked for an American contractor, and young son, the lawyers said. They said both men had been detained at the airport on Friday night after arriving on separate flights.
The lawyers said they had not been allowed to meet with their clients, and there were tense moments as they tried to reach them.
“Who is the person we need to talk to?” asked one of the lawyers, Mark Doss, a supervising attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project.
“Mr. President,” said a Customs and Border Protection agent, who declined to identify himself. “Call Mr. Trump.”
Also Cairo airport officials said seven U.S.-bound migrants – six from Iraq and one from Yemen – were prevented from boarding an EgyptAir flight to New York’s JFK airport. The officials said the seven migrants, escorted by officials from the U.N. refugee agency, were stopped from boarding the plane on Saturday after authorities at Cairo airport contacted their counterparts in JFK airport.
The action at Cairo airport was the first there since Trump imposed the three-month ban on refugees.
Customs officials said the number of people who arrived in the US and were turned back was not immediately available.
“It takes time to collect all the numbers,” a spokesperson told the New York Daily News.
“It will be a decision from the highest levels of The Department of Homeland Security to decide if and when the data may be available.”