Confusion and chaos after Trump issues executive order freezing immigration and refugees
On Friday, Jan. 29, President Donald Trump signed his latest executive order since taking office on the Jan. 20. The executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” disallows immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. The order also banned the entry of all refugees into the United States for 120 days while indefinitely barring the entrance of any Syrian refugee.
The sudden order resulted in confusion and chaos throughout airports around the world and in the U.S. and on the immigration system and prompted massive protests across the U.S.
The order also affects students, visitors and residents with green cards. Countless stories emerged of individuals stopped at airports in the U.S. and abroad. While some were detained and blocked from entering the U.S., others were sent back overseas.
The return of refugees, and those held at airports throughout the nation with valid visas to their home countries, was halted after a federal judge in Brooklyn, Judge Ann Donnelly, issued a stay to prevent the deportation of those with valid visas. Another judge in Virginia also issued order that allowed travelers to consult with volunteer attorneys. In Massachusetts a judge ruled that not only were travelers to be safe from deportation but that those currently held had to be released from detention. There are mixed reports about whether or not agents have been complying with these directives.
On Sunday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement following the rulings saying that while it would comply with the rulings, it would also “continue to enforce all of the president’s Executive orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people.” They added, “the president’s Executive Orders remain in place–prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety.” They also argued that “President’s Trump’s Executive Order affects a minor portion of international travelers, and is a first step towards reestablishing control over America’s borders and national security…less than one percent of the more than 325,000 international air travelers who arrive every day were inconvenienced,” they said.
In response, Trump issued a statement stating that “America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those feeling oppression, but we will do so while protecting our citizens and border…we will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say.” He defended the order, saying that it was “similar to what President Obama did in 2011.” He added, “This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”
Nonetheless, travelers remain detained in airports, and residents are no still not clear about if or when they will be able to return to the U.S. Meanwhile, protests continue to be organized and thousands flocked to airports and other meeting points across the nation on Sunday to speak out against Trump’s executive order.