WASHINGTON/CAIRO, Jan 28, (RTRS): Five Iraqi passengers and one Yemeni were barred from boarding an EgyptAir flight from Cairo to New York on Saturday after President Donald Trump halted the entry of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, sources at Cairo airport said.
The passengers, arriving in transit to Cairo airport, were stopped and re-directed to flights headed for their home countries despite holding valid visas, the sources said. Trump on Friday put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries, saying the moves would help protect Americans from terrorist attacks.
He said his most sweeping use of his presidential powers since taking office a week ago, barring travelers from the seven nations for at least 90 days, would give his administration time to develop more stringent screening procedures for refugees, immigrants and visitors. “I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. Don’t want them here,” Trump said earlier on Friday at the Pentagon. “We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people,” he said.
The bans affect travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and even extends to green card holders who are granted authorization to live and work in the United States, according to a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman.
Besides Cairo it was not immediately clear whether other airports of countries listed by Trump had swiftly implemented the ban. Arab officials of the listed countries would not comment on the matter. The order seeks to prioritize refugees fleeing religious persecution, a move Trump separately said was aimed at helping Christians in Syria. That led some legal experts to question whether the order was constitutional. One group said it would announce a court challenge on Monday.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the order targets Muslims because of their faith, contravening the US Constitutional right to freedom of religion. “President Trump has cloaked what is a discriminatory ban against nationals of Muslim countries under the banner of national security,” said Greg Chen of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Trump has long pledged to take this kind of action, making it a prominent feature of his campaign for the Nov 8 election. But people who work with Muslim immigrants and refugees were scrambling to determine the scope of the order.
During his campaign, Trump tapped into American fears about Islamic State militants and the flood of migrants into Europe from Syria’s civil war, saying refugees could be a “Trojan horse” that allowed attackers to enter the United States.
In December 2015, he called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, drawing fire for suggesting a religious test for immigrants that critics said would violate the US Constitution. His idea later evolved into a proposal for “extreme vetting.” Trump’s order also suspends the Syrian refugee program until further notice, and will eventually give priority to minority religious groups fleeing persecution.
Trump said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network that the exception would help Syrian Christians fleeing the civil war there. Legal experts were divided on whether this order would be constitutional. “If they are thinking about an exception for Christians, in almost any other legal context discriminating in favor of one religion and against another religion could violate the constitution,” said Stephen Legomsky, a former chief counsel at a way to apply favorable treatment to Christians from majority Muslim states.
The move makes good on one of Trump’s most controversial campaign promises, when he vowed to stem immigration from various Muslim countries which he insists pose a terror threat to the United States, and to subject future arrivals to “extreme vetting.” The Times said the detentions have been met with early legal challenges, as lawyers representing two Iraqi refugees being held at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport filed a court appeal for their release, alleging that the two travelers were being unlawfully detained.
Qatar Airways said Saturday it would “enforce” the new rules governing entry to the United States following President Donald Trump’s temporary order restricting arrivals from seven Muslim countries. A spokesperson for the Gulf carrier said it would only carry passengers to the US who had the correct documentation. “We are enforcing the new rules,” said the official. “If travellers to the US don’t have the proper documentation, we are not going to take them to the US.” The news comes after Trump imposed tough new controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Foreign airlines are barring Iranians from travelling to the United States following President Donald Trump’s temporary order barring visas for seven Muslim countries, travel agents in Tehran said Saturday.
Two agencies told AFP they had been instructed by Etihad Airways, Emirates and Turkish Airlines not to sell US tickets or allow Iranians holding American visas to board US-bound flights. Iran’s Aviation Organisation said have not issued any new instructions to Iranian airlines, which do not have direct flights to the Unites States in the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries.