Trump’s immigration crackdown creates growing confusion

Airlines told to keep passengers whose visas had been cancelled or legal residents scheduled to fly back to the U.S. off flights


WASHINGTON – The fallout grew Saturday from President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown as U.S. legal permanent residents and visa-holders from seven Muslim-majority countries who had left the United States found they could not return for 90 days.

It was a period of limbo for an unknown number of non-American citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen now barred from the country where they were studying or had lived, perhaps for years.

A federal law enforcement official who confirmed the temporary ban said there was an exemption for foreigners whose entry is in the U.S. national interest. It was not immediately clear how that exemption might be applied.

Trump’s order exempts diplomats.

Those already in the U.S. with a visa or green card will be allowed to stay, according to the official, who wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the details of how Trump’s order was being put in place and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Customs and Border Protection was notifying airlines about passengers whose visas had been cancelled or legal residents scheduled to fly back to the U.S. Airlines were being told to keep them off those flights.

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Trump’s order barred all refugees from entering the U.S. for four months, and indefinitely halted any from Syria. He said the ban was needed to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists.”

The next group of refugees was due to arrive in the U.S. on Monday, but the official said they would not be allowed into the country.

The president’s order immediately suspended for four months a program that last year resettled in the U.S. roughly 85,000 people displaced by war, political oppression, hunger and religious prejudice. An immediately 90-day ban was put in place for all immigration to the U.S. from the seven Muslim majority nations.

Trump’s order singled out Syrians for the most aggressive ban, ordering that anyone from that country, including those fleeing civil war, are indefinitely blocked from coming to the U.S.

“We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” Trump said as he signed the order at the Pentagon. “We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”

Trump’s ban on asylum-seekers came down even as Iraqis endangered by work for the United States in their home country were midflight to their hoped-for refuge in the United States. As a result, they and countless other refugees, their families and aid workers scrambled Saturday as Muslim travellers were turned back on arrival at U.S. airports or blocked from boarding flights to America.

Organizations including the International Refugees Assistance Project, which helps former Iraqi translators for the U.S. military and other refugees seeking entry to the United States, and other organizations aiding asylum-seekers, rushed translators and lawyers to airports to try to help U.S.-approved asylum-seekers already on their way to the country as Trump’s ban came down.

“I’ve got one arriving at JFK in 10 minutes. We’ll see how that goes,” Becca Heller, director of that refugee group, said Friday night about one man on his way. He is the Iraqi husband of a woman who had fled to the United States recently to escape threats to her life over her work for U.S. officials in Iraq.

Trump said the halt in the refugee program was necessary to give agencies time to develop a stricter screening system. While the order did not spell out what additional steps he wants the departments of Homeland Security and State to take, the president directed officials to review the refugee application and approval process and find any more measures that could prevent those who pose a threat from using the refugee program.

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The U.S. may admit refugees on a case-by-case basis during the freeze, and the government will continue to process requests from people claiming religious persecution, “provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country.”

In an interview with CBN News, Trump said persecuted Christians would be given priority in applying for refugee status.

As a candidate, Trump called for a temporary ban on all Muslim immigration to the U.S. He later shifted his focus to putting in place “extreme vetting” procedures to screen people coming to the U.S. from countries with terrorism ties.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it would challenge the constitutionality of the executive order.

“There is no evidence that refugees – the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation – are a threat to national security,” Lena F. Masri, the group’s national litigation director. “This is an order that is based on bigotry, not reality.”

During the past budget year, the U.S. accepted 84,995 refugees, including 12,587 people from Syria. President Barack Obama had set the refugee limit for this budget year at 110,000.

According to Trump’s executive order, he plans to cut that to 50,000. Refugee processing was suspended in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and restarted months later.

Associated Press reporter Ellen Knickmeyer in New York contributed to this report.

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Trump’s immigration crackdown creates growing confusion

  1. Alicia and Ken: please do a story on who was right about Donald Trump…keep it in the Canadian arena though and exclude the NYT and Washington Post and CNN and all that…keep it to you two and other Canadian journalists and University Professors and other intellectuals. Do a story on one and a half years of comments about Trump and paste them to today… anyone falling on their sword or fired or disgraced….in any other sports team or business when someone is so glaringly so biased against someone and then is revealed to be so wrong ….how can they show their face in the world….but you guys do it all the time and that is why everyone hates you

    • This is a story from the AP (Washington).
      However, Craig, don’t let that stop you. Why don’t you tell us how the Trump regime will benefit Canada.
      We would love to hear it.
      At the same time, it is rather important to keep up with fact checking- I’m sure you will agree.
      By the way, just what is wrong with intellectuals? I like to hear the views of people who have studied subjects with which I am unfamiliar. Surely we don’t want just uniformed opinions shaping our viewpoint.

    • It is hard to do a story on what is right with Trump because there is nothing right with Trump. The man is the most hateful creature to ever be elected for office in the USA and now he is showing his true fascist colours. Funny thing is that university professors and intellectuals are the ones smart enough to see through his hatred and racism… obviously you are not.

  2. Wow, what a new world order, just a month ago, the world was closer with the USA, and Russia were the enemy, now the world is the enemy, and Russia is closer to the USA, with just a stroke of the pen. It’s Trudeau’s moment to shine in Canada, because events like this can define a leader of a country who believes in a Canada that includes everyone. Trudeau don’t need to try and bop Trump over the head or anything, just make it clear to the US, Canada is a sovereign nation and draws a line in the sand, when it comes to equality and respect of peoples rights in this country. We don’t need other countries telling us how we should run our democratic society. We can’t have other nations, no matter how big they are, or think they are, infringe on our way of life. Start defining who we are Trudeau.

    • The conservatives seem to have a major problem with this values thing, as long as the cons have a lame duck leader(Rona), chances are they will never be able to speak for everyone. I would say 50% of the cons favor the Trump government, Rona(lame duck leader) can’t speak for them all, just the media are afraid to approach the cons on their true opinions of Trump, instead the media likes trying to prop up the lame duck leader of the cons. CBCs, PnP never asks the lame duck leader(Rona) a tough question whenever she shows up on the screen..