Trump Refugee Ban Sparks Widespread Backlash

Photo Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria

Last week, the Trump administration issued an executive order to suspend refugee resettlement as well as immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries (including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) under the guise that the government is working to augment its already stringent screening procedures. The order sparked spontaneous protests across the United States, especially at some airports where refugees and green card holders alike were detained under the order. A number of federal judges have issued emergency rulings against key parts of the executive order requiring deportations from airports over questions of its constitutionality.

Democrats in both chambers of Congress have strongly opposed the order, while Republican reactions have been mixed. Sixteen Republicans have come out in opposition of the ban, while dozens of others expressed concerns and reservations; several dozen other Republicans have come out in favor of the ban. The move has sparked strong and widespread criticism from rights groups, activists, legal analysts, conservative political donors, and newspaper editorial boards.

The ban also prompted a number of countries to make statements on President Trump’s controversial decision. Of the seven countries included in the ban, four have commented:

Iraq: The Foreign Ministry expressed its “regret and astonishment” over the ban, saying it was “unfortunate” the decision had been made despite the two nations achieving victories in their joint fight against ISIS. Iraq’s parliament has voted to take “reciprocal measures” in reaction to the new US travel ban on citizens from several predominantly Muslim countries. It is not immediately clear whether the vote will impact American civilians and military already living and working in Iraq, as well as those who seek to enter. No details were offered by parliamentary spokespeople.

Yemen: The ban is “not justified” and “supports the terrorists and sows divisions among people,” Yemen’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Abdel-Malak al-Mekhlafi posted on Twitter. The Foreign Ministry said that attempts to classify Yemeni citizens as a probable source for terrorism were “illegal and illegitimate.” The Yemeni Embassy in Cairo issued a statement that called the ban a “hasty decision”.

Iran: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Sharif called Trump’s immigration order “insulting” and a “gift to extremists.” The Foreign Ministry released a statement that read, “While respecting the American people and distinguishing between them and the hostile policies of the U.S. government, Iran will implement the principle of reciprocity until the offensive U.S. limitations against Iranian nationals are lifted.” The U.S. ban will make it virtually impossible for relatives and friends of an estimated one million Iranian-Americans to visit the United States.

Sudan: Sudan called Trump’s decision “very unfortunate” considering the “historic steps” taken weeks earlier under the Obama administration that lifted sanctions for cooperation on combating terrorism. They released a statement calling the decision “particularly unfortunate” as it “coincides with the two countries’ historic move to lift economic and trade sanctions … and just as economic and financial institutions as well as businessmen in the country were set to continue developing their investment projects.”

Syria, Libya, and Somalia have yet to comment on the ban. In one of the few statements to emerge from a Muslim-majority country not on Trump’s blacklist, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Mehmet Simseksaid on Twitter that “We’d happily welcome global talent not allowed back into #USA.”

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