The Latest: Freed Iraqi says America ‘the greatest’
CAIRO (AP) — The Latest on U.S. President Donald Trump and his ban on refugees from Muslim-majority countries (all times local):
An Iraqi who was detained overnight at a New York City airport because of President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees from certain Muslim nations has called America “the land of freedom” after being released from custody.
Hameed Khalid Darweesh worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Army when it invaded Iraq in 2003. Later he was a contract engineer for the U.S. He was granted permission to relocate to the U.S., but was detained along with another traveler from Iraq after arriving at Kennedy Airport Friday night. Lawyers petitioned a federal court early Saturday to let them go. Two Democratic U.S. Representatives, Nydia Velazquez and Jerrold Nalder, were at the airport trying to get 11 other detainees released.
After he was freed Saturday, Darweesh told a waiting crowd that “America is the greatest nation, the greatest people in the world.”
In Somalia, people are reacting with dismay and warnings that countries could retaliate against the United States’ new immigration and visa policies with restrictive policies of their own.
“I am shocked beyond words. This will mean that my new husband will never be able to join me in the U.S.,” said Fatima Ashkir, a Somali-American woman from Florida who came to Mogadishu to marry her Somali boyfriend.
Others say they are not surprised at President Donald Trump’s executive order imposing a three-month ban on refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia. “His intentions of hurting rather than to help were clear from the very beginning,” said Ahmed Abdullahi, a university student in Mogadishu. “But you have to know that this will have a serious effect on relations between Americans and the Muslim world. A tit-for-tat response by Muslim countries, in which Americans could be barred from entering countries affected, is likely to be seen.”
Iran’s foreign ministry is suggesting the country will limit issuing visas to American tourists in retaliation for U.S. President Donald Trump’s suspension of immigration and visas for nationals from Muslim countries including Iran. The official IRNA news agency Saturday carried a statement by the Iranian foreign ministry that says Iran will resort to “counteraction” to Trump’s executive order.
The statement says: “Iran, to defend the dignity of the great Iranian nation, will implement the principle of reciprocity until the removal of the insulting restriction against Iranian nationals.” The statement adds: “It will apply corresponding legal, consular and political actions.” The two countries have had no diplomatic relations since 1979 when militants stormed the U.S. embassy.
Cairo airport officials say five U.S.-bound Iraqi migrants from one family who have been prevented from boarding an EgyptAir flight to New York’s JKF airport would return to Iraq. They said the five will spend Saturday night at Cairo airport and leave for Irbil, capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, Sunday morning. They added that the sixth U.S.-bound migrant, a Yemeni national, left the airport to return to Cairo, where he resides.
The officials said Saturday’s action by the airport was the first since President Donald Trump imposed a three-month ban on refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The officials said the six migrants, escorted by officials from the U.N. refugee agency, were stopped from boarding the plane after authorities at Cairo airport contacted their counterparts in JFK airport. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
(This story corrects the number of U.S.-bound Iraqi migrants to five, not six) – Hamza Hendawi.
Dutch airline KLM says it has had to turn away seven would-be passengers because they would no longer have been accepted into the United States under President Donald Trump’s ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations.
Manel Vrijenhoek, at KLM’s press office, said: “We would love to bring them there. That’s not the problem. It’s just that this is what the U.S. sprang on the rest of the world – that these people are no longer welcome.” She said the seven were due to fly with KLM from different airports around the world. Vrijenhoek said she had no specifics on their nationalities, although she confirmed they were from countries affected by the three-month immigration ban: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Trump signed the order Friday.
A U.S. federal law enforcement official says any non-U.S. citizen from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen is now barred from entering the United States. That covers legal permanent residents – green card holders – and visa-holders from those seven countries who are out of the United States after Friday, when President Donald Trump signed an executive order with the temporary ban. They cannot return to the U.S. for 90 days.
The official says there’s an exemption for immigrants and legal permanent residents whose entry is in the U.S. national interest, but it’s unclear how that exemption will be applied. The official says visa and green card holders already in the U.S. will be allowed to stay. The official wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the details of how Trump’s order is being put in place and spoke only on condition of anonymity. Customs and Border Protection is notifying airlines about passengers whose visas had been canceled or legal residents scheduled to fly back to the U.S., and the airlines are being told to keep them off those flights. – Alicia Caldwell
Israel’s leader has endorsed President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the Mexican border.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted Saturday that Israel’s wall along its border with Egypt has been successful in stopping a swell of African migrants. “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea,” he wrote, with images of the Israeli and American flag. The tweet marked a rare public foray for the Israeli leader into a charged American domestic affair.
The two leaders spoke earlier this week and Netanyahu is planning to visit Trump in the White House next month. After repeated clashes with President Obama, Netanyahu has high expectations for Trump, who has signaled he will take a kinder approach.
Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head by the Pakistani Taliban in 2012 to stop her campaigning for girls’ education and co-winner of the 2014 Nobel peace prize, says she is heart-broken by U.S. President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees from entering the United States for four months.
The order Friday suspends a program that saw around 85,000 people displaced by war, political oppression, hunger and religious prejudice resettled in the U.S. last year. Trump indefinitely blocked people fleeing Syria’s civil war, and imposed a 90-day ban on U.S. entry from seven Muslim majority nations.
In a statement Saturday, Yousafzai implores Trump “not to turn his back on the world’s most defenseless children and families.” Refugees and immigrants, she says, have “helped build your country.” Trump’s mother was born in Scotland.
Qatar Airways is advising passengers bound for the United States from seven newly banned majority Muslim countries that they need to have either a U.S. green card or diplomatic visa to travel.
A statement on the company’s website says: “Nationals of the following countries: Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen … may travel to the U.S. only if they are in possession of a permanent resident card (Green card) or any of the below visas.” It listed foreign government, United Nations, international organization and NATO visas. President Donald Trump has issued a 90-day ban on all entry to the U.S. from countries with terrorism concerns, including Syria, Iraq and Libya.
Cairo airport officials say seven U.S.-bound migrants – six from Iraq and one from Yemen – have been prevented from boarding an EgyptAir flight to New York’s JFK airport.
The officials said the action Saturday by the airport was the first since President Donald Trump imposed a three-month ban on refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The officials said the seven migrants, escorted by officials from the U.N. refugee agency, were stopped from boarding the plane after authorities at Cairo airport contacted their counterparts in JFK airport. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. – Hamza Hendawi.
The head of a leading refugee aid agency says President Donald Trump’s decision to ban Syrian refugees hurts innocents fleeing violence.
Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council tells The Associated Press on Saturday that Trump’s decision “will not make America safer, it will make America smaller and meaner.” Trump on Friday suspended refugee admissions for four months and indefinitely banned those from war-torn Syria, pending program changes that are to ensure refugees won’t harm national security. Egeland says the decision dealt a “mortal blow” to the idea of international responsibility for those fleeing persecution. He says the U.S. is leading a “race to the bottom” in which politicians in wealth countries provide “zero moral leadership.”
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says the time has come for removing walls between nations rather that building new ones. Rouhani did not name any particular country but his remarks come shortly after President Donald Trump’s executive order Friday suspending all immigration and visa processes for nationals from a handful of countries with terrorism concerns, including Iran, for 90 days. Rouhani said Saturday that, “It is not the day for creating distance among nations.” Speaking at a tourism conference broadcast on state TV, Rouhani said that those seeking to create such walls, “have forgotten that the Berlin Wall collapsed years ago.”
The International Rescue Committee is calling President Donald Trump’s suspension of the U.S. refugee resettlement program a “harmful and hasty” decision.
In a statement issued late Friday night after the suspension was announced, IRC President David Miliband said, “America must remain true to its core values. America must remain a beacon of hope.” The IRC statement declared that the U.S. vetting process for prospective refugees is already robust – involving biometric screening and up to 36 months of vetting by “12 to 15 government agencies.” Miliband praised The United States’ record as a resettlement destination and said, “This is no time for America to turn its back on people ready to become patriotic Americans.”
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