Passengers, students, Oscar nominees among those left in limbo by Trump travel ban
'Trump's visa ban for Iranians is racist,' says Iranian actress in Oscar-nominated film
Many citizens of Muslim-majority countries affected by President Donald Trump's curbs on travel to the United States say they were hardly surprised the restrictions rank among his first orders of business.
The executive order issued Friday by Trump imposes a 120-day ban on refugees entering the U.S. and a 90-day ban on all entry to the U.S. from countries it considers to be compromised by terrorism.
The three-month ban applies to Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. However, a federal judge in New York on Saturday night barred U.S. from deporting travellers with valid visas covered by Trump order, which the American Civil Liberties Union says will affect 100 to 200 people detained at airports.
The order also halts entry by Syrian refugees until the president determines that changes to the refugee program ensure that admitting them won't compromise national security.
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Trump once called for a "complete and total shutdown" of Muslim arrivals, and in his inaugural speech vowed to eradicate "radical Islamic terrorism" from the face of the earth.
But that doesn't make news of the clampdown sting any less for those on the receiving end.
"No one is surprised but everyone is disappointed, especially with the height of hope with [Barack] Obama," said Khalid al-Baih, a 36-year-old political cartoonist from Sudan. He fears new American visa restrictions will now have a knock-on effect. "Whatever America does, the rest of the world follows."
Shadi Sabbagh, a 40-year-old resident of Syria's capital Damascus who has a sister in the U.S., feels let down too by what he called "unnatural" proposals to restrict the flow of refugees into the U.S.
"America is a nation of immigrants and no one can ever ban immigration," he said. "What is our fault if some Muslims committed some wrong actions? Should we, as Christians, bear the consequences?"
Trump ban 'racist,' says Iranian actress
Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti, star of the Oscar-nominated The Salesman, said she would boycott the Academy Awards to protest Trump's immigration policies.
"Trump's visa ban for Iranians is racist," she posted on Twitter.
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Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian director of The Salesman, which is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, will also miss out on the Oscar ceremony because of the ban.
Farhadi had previously won an Oscar for the 2011 film A Separation.
Trump's visa ban for Iranians is racist. Whether this will include a cultural event or not,I won't attend the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AcademyAwards?src=hash">#AcademyAwards</a> 2017 in protest <a href="https://t.co/CW3EF6mupo">pic.twitter.com/CW3EF6mupo</a>—@t_alidoosti
Oscar nominee Asghar Farhadi has been banned from entry into the U.S. to attend the ceremony in Feb. This is heartbreaking and unacceptable. <a href="https://t.co/2PrwZWyBdw">pic.twitter.com/2PrwZWyBdw</a>—@Tribeca
Amplifying words of one of my favorite filmmakers, Asghar Farhadi, who like too many others will be turned away from the Land of the Free. <a href="https://t.co/CcskcFueuo">pic.twitter.com/CcskcFueuo</a>—@ava
Mohammad Saghafi, an undergraduate electric engineering student in Tehran Azad University, said he is thinking twice about trying to pursue further education in the U.S. because of the ban.
"I may continue my education in Canada or Germany," he said. "Their leaders do not react like teenagers, at least."
I may continue my education in Canada or Germany. Their leaders do not react like teenagers, at least.- Undergraduate at Tehran Azad University
Mounir al-Khayat, a 31-year-old banker from Syria who was born and raised in Kuwait, said it has always been tough for Syrians to get American visas, even before Trump's election. He has been refused a tourist visa, as have others he knows.
"I was told that because I am Syrian, the authorities there are not sure if I will return," he said.
"It has always been there, this travel ban," he continued. "Trump just made it official."
U.S.-bound airline passengers turned back
Airlines around the world are turning away passengers, refunding tickets and rebooking flights.
Canada's WestJet Airlines said it turned back a passenger bound for the U.S. on Saturday in order to comply with Trump's executive order.
WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said the airline would give full refunds to anyone affected by the ban. The airline did not say which country the passenger had come from.
WestJet and Air Canada say they are waiving cancellation fees for people who hold passports from the affected countries.
Earlier on Saturday, the U.S. State Department said dual citizens of the seven countries on the ban list would be barred entry, a policy that would have affected tens of thousands of Canadians. However, the Prime Minister's Office later issued a statement saying all Canadian citizens will be able to travel freely to the U.S.
Guests w/ Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen or Libya passport prohibited from entering or transiting the US. <a href="https://t.co/K8CxmjncAN">https://t.co/K8CxmjncAN</a> <a href="https://t.co/8RK1JqEwaQ">pic.twitter.com/8RK1JqEwaQ</a>—@WestJet
Dubai-based Emirates said a small number of its passengers were affected Saturday, and it was helping them rebook. Delta Air Lines and British Airways both said they were offering refunds for passengers who couldn't complete their trips.
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 Trump imposed the ban.
The officials said the seven migrants, escorted by officials from the UN 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.
Qatar Airways is advising passengers bound for the U.S. from the newly banned majority-Muslim countries that they need to have either a 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.
Dutch airline KLM says it has had to turn away seven would-be passengers because they would no longer have been accepted into the U.S.
This is what the U.S. sprang on the rest of the world — that these people are no longer welcome- Dutch airline spokesperson
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 on Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
A U.S. federal law enforcement official who confirmed the temporary ban said there was an exemption for foreigners whose entry is in the U.S. national interest. It was not immediately clear how that exemption might be applied.
Those already in the U.S. with a visa or green card will be allowed to stay, according to the official, who wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the details of how Trump's order was being put in place and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Customs and Border Protection was notifying airlines about passengers whose visas had been cancelled and telling the airlines to keep them off those flights.
With files from Reuters, The Canadian Press and CBC News