U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily blocking citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. has sparked fierce backlash and condemnation, but the president maintained on Sunday that he would not lift the ban.
The Executive Order
Mr. Trump signed an executive order on Friday afternoon barring citizens of seven countries - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen - from entering U.S. soil for the next 90 days. Additionally, the order suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days and indefinitely banned Syrian refugees from entering the U.S.
Citizens from the above-mentioned countries that hold dual citizenship with the U.S., however, will be exempted from the ban.
The new restrictions on immigration caused confusion at airports in the U.S. and abroad, as certain aspects of the ban remain unclear.
The New York Times reports that students, visitors, and green card holders (i.e., persons with permanent resident status but not U.S. citizenship) were denied entry into airports across the country. Many were detained in airports while others were sent back to their home countries. Others were prevented from boarding U.S.-bound flights departing from Cairo, Dubai, and Istanbul.
According to Reuters, 170 people were denied entry into the U.S. on Saturday night.
Many immigration officials and airport security workers, however, were on Saturday unclear as to who could and could not enter the country. Specifically, the status of green card holders caused confusion, as the executive order states that a green card holder could be barred from the restriction if it is in “the national interest” to do so.
Even White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus appeared to be confused over the restriction, as he appeared to contradict himself when discussing the ban on a Sunday morning talk show. After initially saying that the ban would not affect green card holders, he soon reversed course after being pushed for clarification.
“We didn’t overrule the Department of Homeland Security, as far as green card holders moving forward, it doesn't affect them,” he said. But when asked again if the ban affects green card holders, Mr. Priebus replied, “Well, of course, it does. If you’re traveling back and forth, you’re going to be subjected to further screening.”
Protesters stormed airports across the U.S. to express their anger at the ban, which many feel is a violation of civil rights and antithetical to American values.
Americans judges have defied the ban, saying it violates the U.S. constitution.
On Saturday night, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly of New York granted an order prohibiting the deportation of green card and visa holders being held at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York
Reuters reports that judges in Massachusetts, Washington, and Virginia granted similar orders on Saturday night.
While such orders do not strike down Mr. Trump’s executive order, they prove that it could be difficult for the federal government to enforce.