Chaos, anger as Trump order halts some Muslim immigrants

admin   •   January 29, 2017   •   7546

Demonstrators shout slogans during anti-Donald Trump immigration ban protests inside Terminal 4 at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Kate Munsch

President Donald Trump’s order to restrict people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States sparked confusion and anger on Saturday after immigrants and refugees were kept off flights and left stranded in airports.

In his most sweeping decision since taking office a week ago, Trump, a Republican, put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other countries.

Civil rights and faith groups, activists and Democratic politicians were furious and vowed to fight the order.

Capping a day of confusion and chaos and protests in several airports across the country, a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, granted a temporary reprieve. The American Civil Liberties Union successfully argued for a temporary stay that allowed detained travelers to stay in the United States.

Supporters outside the Brooklyn courtroom and at protests at airports in Dallas, Chicago, New York and elsewhere cheered the decision, but a bigger fight lay ahead.

The court action does not reverse Trump’s order, which was criticized by some of America’s closest allies.

Trump, a businessman who successfully tapped into American fears about terror attacks during his campaign, had promised what he called “extreme vetting” of immigrants and refugees from areas the White House said the U.S. Congress deemed to be high risk.

He told reporters in the White House’s Oval Office on Saturday that his order was “not a Muslim ban” and said the measures were long overdue.

“It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over,” Trump said.

Along with Syria, the ban affects travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The Department of Homeland Security said about 375 travelers had been affected by the order, 109 of whom were in transit and were denied entry to the United States. Another 173 were stopped by airlines before boarding.

The order “affects a minor portion of international travelers,” the department said in a statement, saying the measures “inconvenienced” less than 1 percent of travelers.

The new rules blindsided people in transit and families waiting for them, and caused havoc for businesses with employees holding passports from the targeted nations and colleges with international students.

Pegah Rahmani, 25, waited at Washington’s Dulles airport for several hours for her grandparents, both Iranian citizens with U.S. green cards. “They weren’t treating them very well,” she said.

Rahmani’s grandfather is 88 and legally blind. Her grandmother is 83 and recently had a stroke. They were released to loud cheers and cries.

‘TIP OF THE SPEAR’

Several Democratic governors said they were examining whether they could launch legal challenges, and other groups eyed a constitutional challenge claiming religious discrimination.

don’t think anyone is going to take this lying down,” said Cleveland immigration lawyer David Leopold. “This is the tip of the spear and more litigation is coming.”

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The Department of Homeland Security said the order would stay in place.

“No foreign national in a foreign land, without ties to the United States, has any unfettered right to demand entry into the United States,” the department statement said.

Mark Krikorian, the director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, called lawsuits challenging the order “last ditch efforts” that would only apply to a few individuals, and he said a broader constitutional argument would be hard to win.

“The first amendment doesn’t apply to foreigners living abroad. The law explicitly says the president can exclude any person or class of people he wants,” Krikorian said.

Some leaders from the U.S. technology industry, a major employer of foreign workers, issued warnings to their staff and called the order immoral and un-American.

“This ban will impact many innocent people,” said Travis Kalanick, chief executive of Uber Technologies Inc UBER.UL, who said he would raise the issue at a White House meeting on Friday.

Arab travelers in the Middle East and North Africa said the order was humiliating and discriminatory. Iran vowed to retaliate.

Sudan called the action “very unfortunate” after Washington lifted sanctions on the country just weeks ago for cooperation on combating terrorism. A Yemeni official expressed dismay at the ban.

Iraq’s former ambassador to the United States, Lukman Faily, told Reuters that Trump’s ban was unfair to a country that itself has been a victim of terror attacks, and could backfire.

“We have a strong partnership with U.S., more so in the urgent fight against terrorism. This ban move will not help, and people will start questioning the bond of this partnership, Faily said.

Allies in the United Kingdom, France and Germany were critical. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a photo of himself welcoming Syrian refugees.

GREEN CARD CONFUSION

Confusion abounded at airports as immigration and customs officials struggled to interpret the new rules. Some legal residents with green cards who were in the air when the order was issued were detained at airports upon arrival.

However, senior administration officials said it would have been “reckless” to broadcast details of the order in advance.

Other officials said green card holders from the affected countries would require extra screening and would be cleared on a case-by-case basis.

Airlines were blindsided and some cabin crew were barred from entering the country.

Travelers were handled differently at different points of entry and immigration lawyers advised clients to change their destination to the more lenient airports, said Houston immigration lawyer Mana Yegani.

At Chicago O’Hare International Airport, brothers Bardia and Ayden Noohi waited for four hours for their father Kasra Noohi – who has an Iranian passport and a U.S. green card – to be allowed through.

They knew Trump had pledged tougher rules but did not expect the problems. “I didn’t think he’d actually do it,” Bardia Noohi, 32, said. “A lot of politicians just talk.”

Thousands of refugees seeking entry were thrown into limbo. Melanie Nezer of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society said she knew of roughly 2,000 who were booked to come to the United States next week.

Trump’s order indefinitely bans refugees from Syria. In a television interview, he said he would seek to prioritize Christian refugees fleeing the war-torn country.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were not consulted on the action and in some cases only learned the details as they were made public.

At the State Department, a senior official said lawyers were working to interpret the executive order, which allows entry to people affected by the order when it is in the “national interest.”

However, a federal law enforcement official said: “It’s unclear at this point what the threshold of national interest is.”

(Reporting by Yara Bayoumy, Jeff Mason, Roberta Rampton, Doina Chiacu, Lesley Wroughton, Yeganeh Torbati in Washington; Mica Rosenberg, Jonathan Allen, Melissa Fares, Daniel Trotta and David Ingram in New York; Robert Chiarito in Chicago; Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Alissa Greenberg, Joseph Menn, Julia Love and Kristina Cook in San Francisco; Jeffrey Dastin in Redwood City, California; Alex Dobuzinskis and Daina Beth Solomon in Los Angeles; Khalid Abdelaziz in Khartoum; Parisa Hafezi in Dubai; Andrea Hopkins, Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Writing by Doina Chiacu and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Grant Mary Milliken, Bill Rigby and Paul Tait)

U.S. Supreme Court rules some Trump financial records can be revealed

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday (July 9) ruled that a New York prosecutor can obtain President Donald Trump’s financial records but prevented – at least for now – the Democratic-led House of Representatives from obtaining similar documents.

Both 7-2 rulings were authored by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts. One ruling means that the subpoena issued to Trump’s long-term accounting firm, Mazars LLP, for various financial records to be turned over to a grand jury as part of a criminal investigation can be enforced.

But the court sidestepped a major ruling on whether three House committees could also obtain Trump financial documents under subpoena, in what is a short-term win for Trump. Litigation will now continue in lower courts.

In both rulings, Roberts was joined by the court’s four liberals as well as Trump’s two conservative appointees to the court, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

Unlike other recent presidents, Trump has refused to release his tax returns and other documents that could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

The content of these records has remained a persistent mystery even as he seeks re-election on Nov. 3. Thursday’s rulings represent another milestone in Trump’s tumultuous presidency. (Reuters)

(Production: Mana Rabiee)

Trump notifies Congress to withdraw US from WHO

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump has formally notified Congress that the United States has officially moved to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO), Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said on Tuesday.

“Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the @WHO in the midst of a pandemic,” tweeted by Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic and incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests – it leaves Americans sick and America alone,” he added.

Citing a senior administration official, The Hill reported the same day that the United States had submitted its withdrawal notification to the United Nations secretary-general.

Trump and his administration repeatedly assailed the WHO for months and threatened to cut ties with the organization. Experts and Democrats criticized that the Trump administration was trying to shift blames of its mishandling of COVID-19 response and would be counterproductive to addressing the public health crisis.

Trump said in late May that his country is “terminating” its relationship with the WHO. In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier that month, Trump threatened to permanently cut off the nation’s funding to the WHO and “reconsider our membership” if the international body does not commit to what he called “substantive improvements within the next 30 days.”

Trump announced in mid-April that his administration would halt U.S. funding to the WHO.

The United States has reported more than 2.96 million COVID-19 cases with over 130,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Both figures are far higher than those in any other country or region. (Reuters)

U.S. House of Representatives passes Democratic police reform bill

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a controversial Democratic police reform bill on Thursday (June 25), sending the measure to the Senate despite opposition from President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress.

The Democratic-controlled House voted 236-181 roughly along party lines to adopt the legislation, one month to the day after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody sparked weeks of worldwide protests over police brutality, especially against African-Americans.

But the Democratic bill, which mandates concrete changes in law and policy to rein in police misconduct, is unlikely to be passed in its current form in the Republican-led Senate, where Democrats blocked a Republican reform measure on Wednesday. (Reuters)

(Production: Vanessa Johnston)

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