Google has announced it is recalling travelling staff members to the United States after an executive order from President Donald Trump restricting entry for nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries.
According to the order, Syrian refugees are banned from entry until further notice.
Nationals of six further countries, including Iran and Iraq, will be banned from entering the US for 90 days.
The entire US refugee admissions program is suspended for 120 days, and a lower cap on numbers introduced.
On January 28, several Iraqi passengers and a Yemeni national were prevented from boarding a flight at Cairo airport bound for New York, despite holding valid visas for the US.
The American Civil Liberties Union says it has filed a suit challenging the executive order. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) also says it will file a lawsuit.
The new restrictions will have a major impact on technology companies that hire skilled staff from all over the world on special H1-B visas.
There have been reports that “green card” holders, who are legal permanent residents of the US, being prevented from getting on flights. However, green cards are not specifically mentioned in the executive order, and so the status of green card holders remains unclear.
CAIR advised non-US citizens, including permanent residents, from the seven countries to plan to delay all international travel for at least 90 days.
President Trump said the measures detailed in his executive order would “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the US”.
However, rights groups say there is no link between Syrian refugees in the US and terrorism.
Donald Trump signed the order on January 27, which was International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
His statement to mark that occasion, on the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, made no mention of Jews or anti-Semitism.
The sudden and severe immigration restrictions imposed on passport holders from seven Muslim countries could seriously demonstrate the law of unintended consequences. The president wants to restrict some Muslims but the effect could be to damage America’s most important and profitable sector: technology.
Google has recalled around 100 of its affected staff from overseas. Microsoft has warned its shareholders that curbs on immigration could have a material impact on its business.
The technology sector relies heavily on highly skilled and well-paid workers from overseas on H1-B visas. If there’s a risk, however small, that that brainpower could be restricted in some way or scare off others who may feel unwelcome, the big tech companies may have to rethink where they place their key staff in future.
President Donald Trump has decided to suspend the refugee program and banned the entry of Syrian refugees into the US indefinitely.
Donald Trump has also halted the issuing of visas to the nationals of six other mainly Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, for three months.
The president said the measures were part of new measures to “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the US”.
Rights groups have condemned the move, saying there is no link between Syrian refugees in the US and terrorism.
Under Donald Trump’s wide-ranging executive order, all refugee admissions have been suspended for four months.
President Trump signed the order at the Pentagon after a ceremony to swear in Gen. James Mattis as defense secretary.
During the ceremony, President Trump said: “I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”
Image source Flickr
The text of the order was released several hours after it was signed. Among the measures are:
Suspension of the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days
A ban on refugees from Syria until “significant changes” are made
A 90-day suspension on anyone arriving from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, except certain visa categories such as diplomats
To prioritize future refugee applications from those persecuted for their religion – but only if the person is part of a minority religion in their home country
A cap of 50,000 refugees in 2017 – less than half of the upper limit under President Barack Obama
However, a mention of creating “safe zones” within Syria, seen in an earlier draft, was removed from the final order.
The executive order also said all immigration programs should include questions to “evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society.”
In a TV interview broadcast earlier on January 27, President Trump said Christians would be given priority among Syrians who apply for refugee status in the future.
Other measures include a broad review of the information required from all countries to approve a visa; a review of visa schemes between nations to ensure they are “truly reciprocal” for US citizens; and the immediate suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program.
However, the document says exceptions to most restrictions could be made on a case-by-case basis.
President Donald Trump also signed an executive order aimed at rebuilding the military by “developing a plan for new planes, new ships, new resources and new tools for our men and women in uniform”.
In 2016, Barack Obama’s administration admitted 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US. Neighboring Canada – whose population is a ninth of that of the US – took in 35,000.
During the election campaign, Donald Trump suggested a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”.
However, he has made no mention of this since his victory last November.
The executive order has been met with criticism from rights organizations, Democrats and notable figures.
Democratic Senator Kamala Harris noted that the order had been signed on Holocaust Memorial Day.
“Make no mistake – this is a Muslim ban.
“During the Holocaust, we failed to let refugees like Anne Frank into our country. We can’t let history repeat itself,” she said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was “profoundly saddened” and President Trump had sent “a shamefully different message” than the country’s founding beliefs.
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