Saturday, January 28, 2017
TRUMP'S INHUMANE IMMIGRATION ORDER STABS LADY LIBERTY IN THE HEART
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s executive order on immigration quickly reverberated through the United States and across the globe on Saturday, slamming the border shut for an Iranian scientist headed to a lab in Boston, an Iraqi who had worked as an interpreter for the United States Army, and a Syrian refugee family headed to a new life in Ohio, among countless others.
Around the nation, security officers at major international gateways had new rules to follow. Humanitarian organizations scrambled to cancel long-planned programs, delivering the bad news to families who were about to travel. Refugees who were airborne on flights when the order was signed were detained at airports.
Reports rapidly surfaced Saturday morning of students attending American universities who were blocked from getting back into the United States from visits abroad. One student said in a Twitter post that he would be unable to study at Yale. Another who attends the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was refused permission to board a plane. Stanford University was reportedly working to help a Sudanese student return to California.
Human rights groups reported that legal permanent residents of the United States who hold green cards were being stopped in foreign airports as they sought to return from funerals, vacations or study abroad — a clear indication that Mr. Trump’s directive is being applied broadly.
Mr. Trump’s order, enacted with the stroke of a pen on Friday afternoon, suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The Department of Homeland Security said that the executive order barred green card holders from those countries from re-entering the United States.
At least one case quickly prompted a legal challenge as lawyers representing two Iraqi refugees held at Kennedy International Airport in New York filed a motion early Saturday seeking to have their clients released. They also filed a motion for class certification, in an effort to represent all refugees and other immigrants who they said were being unlawfully detained at ports of entry.
Shortly after noon on Saturday, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an interpreter who worked on behalf of the United States government in Iraq, was released. After nearly 19 hours of detention, Mr. Darweesh began to cry as he spoke to reporters, putting his hands behind his back and miming handcuffs.
“What I do for this country? They put the cuffs on,” Mr. Darweesh said. “You know how many soldiers I touch by this hand?”
The other man the lawyers are representing, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, remained in custody as his legal advocates sought his release.
Inside the airport, one of the lawyers, Mark Doss, a supervising attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project, asked a border agent, “Who is the person we need to talk to?”
“Call Mr. Trump,” said the agent, who declined to identify himself.
The White House said the restrictions would protect “the United States from foreign nationals entering from countries compromised by terrorism” and ensure “a more rigorous vetting process.” But critics condemned Mr. Trump over the immediate collateral damage imposed on people who, by all accounts, had no sinister intentions in trying to come to the United States.
Peaceful protests began forming Saturday afternoon at Kennedy Airport, where nine travelers had been detained at Terminal 7 upon arrival, and two more were detained at Terminal 4, an airport official said.
The official said they were being held in a federal area of the airport, adding that such situations were playing out around the nation.
An official message to all American diplomatic posts around the world provided instructions about how to treat people from the countries affected: “Effective immediately, halt interviewing and cease issuance and printing” of visas to the United States.
Confusion turned to panic at airports around the world, as travelers found themselves unable to board flights bound for the United States. In Dubai and Istanbul, airport and immigration officials turned passengers away at boarding gates and, in at least one case, ejected a family from a flight they had boarded.
Seyed Soheil Saeedi Saravi, a leading young scientist in Iran, had been scheduled to travel in the coming days to Boston, where he had been awarded a fellowship to study cardiovascular medicine at Harvard, according to Thomas Michel, the professor who was to supervise the research fellowship.
But Professor Michel said the visas for the student and his wife had been indefinitely suspended.
“This outstanding young scientist has enormous potential to make contributions that will improve our understanding of heart disease, and he has already been thoroughly vetted,” Professor Michel wrote to The New York Times. “This country and this city have a long history of providing research training to the best young scientists in the world, many of whom have stayed in the U.S.A. and made tremendous contributions in biomedicine and other disciplines.”
A spokesman for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities — the association of large public colleges — said that the group was aware of an Iranian undergraduate student who had been barred from boarding a flight.
A Syrian family of six who have been living in a Turkish refugee camp since fleeing their home in 2014 had been scheduled to arrive in Cleveland on Tuesday, according to a report in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Instead, the family’s trip has been called off.
Danielle Drake, a community relations manager at US Together, a refugee resettlement agency, told the newspaper that Mr. Trump’s ban reminded her of when the United States turned away Jewish refugees during World War II. “All those times that people said, ‘Never again,’ well, we’re doing it again,” she said.
On Twitter, Daniel W. Drezner, a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, posted an angry message for Mr. Trump after the executive order stopped the arrival of a Syrian family his synagogue had sponsored.
In an interview on Friday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC, he expressed sorrow for the fate of the family and apologized for cursing in his Twitter message.
“I can’t quite describe the degree of anger that I felt as a reaction to this, which then caused me to curse at the president on social media,” he said, adding, “which is probably something I should not do as a general rule.”
It was unclear how many refugees and other immigrants were being held nationwide in relation to the executive order.
A Christian family of six from Syria said in an email to Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania, that they were being detained at Philadelphia International Airport on Saturday morning despite having legal paperwork, green cards and visas that had been approved.
In the case of the two Iraqis held at Kennedy Airport, the legal filings by his lawyers say that Mr. Darweesh was granted a special immigrant visa on Jan. 20, the same day Mr. Trump was sworn in as president. Mr. Darweesh worked with the Americans in Iraq in a variety of jobs — as an interpreter, an engineer and a contractor.
He worked as an interpreter for the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Baghdad and Mosul starting shortly after the invasion of Iraq on April 1, 2003. The filing said he had been directly targeted twice for his work with the United States military.
A husband and father of three, he arrived at Kennedy Airport with his family. Mr. Darweesh’s wife and children made it through passport control and customs, but agents of Customs and Border Protection detained him.
Mr. Alshawi was supposed to be reunited with his wife, who has been living in Texas. She wiped away tears as she waited in her sister’s house early Saturday in a Houston suburb.
In Cairo on Saturday, five Iraqis and one Yemeni, all of whom had valid immigration visas, according to airport officials, were barred from boarding an EgyptAir flight headed to New York, The Associated Press reported.
It was not clear if any of the six passengers had already been granted refugee status.
In Istanbul, during a stopover on Saturday, passengers reported that security officers had entered a plane after everyone had boarded and ordered a young Iranian woman and her family to leave the aircraft.
Iranian green card holders who live in the United States were blindsided by the decree while on vacation in Iran, finding themselves in a legal limbo and unsure whether they would be able to return to America.
“How do I get back home now?” said Daria Zeynalia, a green card holder who was visiting family in Iran. He had rented a house and leased a car, and would be eligible for citizenship in November. “What about my job? If I can’t go back soon, I’ll lose everything.”
Shadi Heidarifar, a philosophy student recently admitted to New York University, said in a message on Twitter that she had spent three years applying to universities in the United States.
“I had to work to save money, gather documents. The application fees were so expensive that a whole family could live for a month” on them, Ms. Heidarifar wrote. When she was accepted recently, she was elated. “But now my entire future is destroyed in one second.”