Update One: British dual nationals have now been exempted from the banning
Update Two: People who have already been given permission to be in the USA may return there.
This is blog about travel and not politics and I try not to cross boundaries. The events of this week have so shocked me, I need to make comment.
I have been to New York many times and stared at the words on the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door”
And these masses came. The Irish escaping famine, the Amish and Baptists fleeing persecution, the Chinese for Gold. Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and atheist, they came to a country that promised much. The Museum at Ellis Island shows the new Americans who joined the US melting pot. Until now.
Mr Trump during the US election campaign said he would ban all Muslims entering the USA. Many scoffed at this.
After less than a week in the job, Mr Trump implemented such a ban of sorts.
All travellers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen were immediately banned from the USA for 90 days while the US government analyses the visa vetting program for people coming from these countries. According to the media, the ban covers Green card holders with those passports who had already been granted authorisation to live and work in the United States. Dual passport holders are also banned if one of their passports is from one of those seven countries.
The US refugee program has been suspended for 120 days. This includes religious refugees, and political refugees. All Syrian refugees have been banned forever.
The ban has caused anger, confusion and fear. Passengers have been removed from planes, prevented from checking in and stopped from entering the USA after arriving on flights, some unaware the rule change had affected them. This ban has affected sports people, film critics, film stars, musicians, doctors, students and housewives. There have been lawyers hired and judges making pronouncments.
Friends and colleagues of mine who are not Muslims and not from any of the affected countries are deferring and cancelling travel. I know people who were attending conferences who are pulling out. One group of friends of mine who were planning to take their kids to California Disneyland are now considering going to Mexico as a protest!
I am not a fan of this policy:
- This ban will negatively impact the reputation of the USA,
- It will affect tourism and business dealings- isolationism is not good for world trade
- I do not understand the logic of the countries chosen. For example: Why Yemen and nor Saudia Arabia? Why Iran and not Turkey? There have been no terrorism activities in the USA by citizens of the seven banned countries
- The 9/11 hijackers came from Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Their citizens are still free to travel into or out of the USABnalnek
- It creates more fear, division, anger and disunity than resulting in greater global protection
- It separates us as global citizens. I have been to 64 countries. In those places, people generally just want to earn an income, stay healthy and safe, raise their kids and celebrate friends and family. They may have different religions or none but people’s desire to connect to the spiritual is pretty universal. Yes there are evil people everywhere who maim and kill but no country is immune from this.
- Abandoning Syrian refugees is immoral. The world could have absorbed every Syrian refugee very easily and we chose not to make it easy. The poor people of Syria have been bombed and shot at by ISIS, Russia, Syrian rebels, Pakistan Taliban, the UK and USA. Their homes and schools and shops are in ruins, infrastructure destroyed and economy shot. If I was a Syrian refugee, what would I expect and want? Let us have some empathy. Already refugees are thoroughly vetted.
- Which countries are next? Will the USA ban Mexicans? Malaysians? Maldivians? Moroccans? Nigerians?
- Additionally, this policy will result in a tit for tat with countries banning US citizens from travel. Iran has already started. The USA will retaliate by banning those citizens and they in turn… you can see where it will go
- It feels like another step toward some sort of global war
I am a fan of security, tourism, travel and trade and a better world. This policy does not feel like it is advancing this. I hope at the end of the review period, there will be better procedures and processes and not reactionary blanket bans.
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