Trump order causes backlash
WASHINGTON — Confusion, worry and outrage grew Saturday as President Donald Trump’s crackdown on refugees and citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries took effect. Airlines blocked people traveling to the United States, legal challenges were underway and doubts abounded about whether the order would make America safer.
The immediate fallout from Trump’s order meant that an untold number of foreign-born U.S. residents now traveling outside the U.S. could be stuck overseas for at least 90 days — despite holding permanent residency “green cards” or other visas. And some foreign nationals who were allowed to board flights before the order was signed Friday were being detained at U.S. airports, told they were no longer welcome.
Trump billed his sweeping executive order as a necessary step to stop “radical Islamic terrorists” from coming to the U.S. Included is a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen and a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program.
Trump’s order singled out Syrians for the most aggressive ban, indefinitely blocking entry for anyone from that country, including those fleeing civil war.
The directive did not do anything to prevent attacks from homegrown extremists who were already in America, a primary concern of federal law enforcement officials. It also omitted Saudi Arabia, home to most of the Sept. 11 hijackers.
As a candidate Trump pledged to temporarily ban Muslims from coming to the U.S., then said he would implement “extreme vetting” for people from countries with significant terror concerns.
Trump told reporters Saturday the order is “not a Muslim ban.”
“It’s working out very nicely,” Trump said of the implementation of his order. “We’re going to have a very, very strict ban and we’re going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.”
The order drew criticism from U.S. lawmakers and officials around the globe.
Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said while Trump is right to focus on border security, the order is “too broad.”
“If we send a signal to the Middle East that the U.S. sees all Muslims as jihadis, the terrorist recruiters win by telling kids that America is banning Muslims and that this is America versus one religion,” Sasse said. “Our generational fight against jihadism requires wisdom.”
In Tehran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran would stop issuing new visas to U.S. citizens in response to Trump’s ban, but that anyone already with a visa to Iran wouldn’t be turned away.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter Saturday afternoon to say that refugees were welcome in Canada, “regardless of your faith.”
Two of the first people blocked from entering the United States were Iraqis with links to the U.S. military.
Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi were detained by immigration officials after landing at New York’s Kennedy airport Friday night. Darweesh had worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Army when it invaded Iraq in 2003. Later he worked as a contract engineer.