Muslim Refugees Were Admitted at a Lower Rate During Trump’s Refugee Ban – The New York Times

Numbers tell the story:

During the week when President Trump’s refugee ban was in effect, refugees were allowed in on a case-by-case basis. Just 15 percent of the 843 refugees who were admitted during this time were Muslim, compared with a weekly average of 45 percent in 2016.

Only two refugees were allowed in from the seven Muslim-majority countries affected by President Trump’s travel ban. About 1,800 refugees from these countries had arrived in the United States every week on average since 2016.

Trudeau must match words with action in Trump era, say critics, rights groups

Government is wise to wait and monitor before changing such a fundamental policy as safe third country. In the end, should the Trump administration continue with such policies, it will likely become harder to resist such calls, on both policy and political grounds:

Justin Trudeau’s invitation on Twitter to “those fleeing persecution, terror & war” attracted global attention as a subtle response to President Donald Trump’s order temporarily banning refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, but now Canadian opposition politicians and human rights groups want Mr. Trudeau to match his words with action.

Mr. Trump’s executive order banned refugees from resettling in the United States for 120 days and nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. Thousands of people gathered outside of the U.S. embassy in Washington and consulate in Toronto to protest the decision Monday.

The prime minister’s “diversity is our strength” tweet sent the message that “regardless of [their] faith,” those seeking refuge will find an open door to Canada as the one in the U.S. temporarily closes.

The New Democratic and Green parties, along with Amnesty International’s Canadian and U.S. sections, in turn have called on the federal government to remove the U.S. as a “safe third country” for refugee determination under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

A 2004 order-in-council giving the U.S. that designation, which was briefly overturned by the Federal Court and later reinstituted by the Federal Court of Appeal, requires most refugees travelling through the U.S. to Canada to make a claim for protection in the U.S.

Amnesty wants Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen (York-South Weston, Ont.) to immediately rescind the U.S. as a safe country and allow refugees to cross the border and seek asylum in Canada. “The risk of not doing this is going to deny an avenue of protection for people who are going to need it in the days, weeks, and months to come,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, who believes that Mr. Trump might support the U.S.’s removal as a safe haven.

“It would mean more refugee claimants turning to Canada for protection rather than the United States, which seems to be what he wants,” said Mr. Neve. “Canada doesn’t have to issue a press release loudly and angrily denouncing the U.S.’s refugee-protection record. It’s something that can be done quietly and quickly through an order-in-council.”

Source: Trudeau must match words with action in Trump era, say critics, rights groups – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

No plans to change refugee target in wake of U.S. travel ban: immigration minister

Calibrated response:

As MPs debate U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban in the House of Commons, Canada has already confirmed it will not hike its refugee intake target in the wake of a contentious immigration and travel crackdown in the U.S., says Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.

Under pressure by the NDP, human rights groups and refugee lawyers to bring more asylum-seekers to Canada, the minister said Canada’s plan will not change in response to an executive order by Trump that suspends the U.S. refugee program and bars entry to nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“Our immigration levels plan has an allocation that is historically high for refugees,” Hussen said. “We intend to maintain that plan.”

Canada’s 2017 immigration plan is set to accommodate 40,000 refugees.

Hussen also rejected calls to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement, a pact which considers asylum-seekers safe in both Canada and the U.S.

“All the parameters of that agreement are in place and there is no change at this time,” he said.

MPs held an emergency debate Tuesday evening, which concluded around midnight, on the U.S. immigration and travel directives,.

Noting that the U.S. has now agreed to allow in 872 refugees who were already screened and in transit, and were previously denied entry, Hussen said that’s a sign the situation is evolving fast. He added that Canada will closely monitor developments.

“The responsible thing to do is to maintain contact, to continue to engage and make sure we monitor the situation closely to make sure we provide information to Canadians,” he said.

Ottawa U.S. Embassy Trump protest travel ban Jan 30 2017

People gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa Monday afternoon to protest an executive order signed by President Donald Trump banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. (CBC)

Call for ‘special measures’

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan, who requested the emergency debate, held a news conference Tuesday morning urging the government to lift a cap on privately sponsored refugees and to fast-track refugee claims.

The B.C. MP laid out a number of proposed “special measures” ahead of the debate.

“There is no question that this ban promotes hate and intolerance,” she said. “This ban will have a disastrous effect for thousands of innocent travellers and refugees.”

Calling it “absolutely shocking,” Kwan said the Trump travel ban will have a huge negative impact on the economy, as well as cultural and academic development.

…Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel used the debate to launch into an examination of whether Canada was effectively managing its own immigration file.

She questioned whether there was adequate funding to help refugees integrate into Canadian society, and whether it was wise to lift the visa restrictions on Mexicans coming to Canada.

“To respond to the immigration policies of other nations, we must first get our own house in order, and then through those actions, show the world what immigration policy best practice looks like,” Rempel said.

The job-creating, anti-extremist Canadian Conservative with a maple leaf tattoo now banned from the U.S. | National Post

National Post profile of the staffer Jason Kenney mentioned in his tweets (dealt with him during my time at CIC/IRCC, sharp guy, pleasant to deal with. Married to Candice Malcolm, another former staffer and current Sun columnist who is also extremely conservative and, IMO, overly partisan in her critiques):

Canadian Kasra Nejatian renounced his Iranian citizenship at 17, got a maple leaf tattoo and has been such an outspoken critic of the Islamic republic that he believes he would be immediately arrested if he ever returned.

He owns a tech company, Kash, with more than a dozen employees in the United States.

He’s also extremely Conservative. He spent years as a staffer for former Tory immigration minister Jason Kenney, who has described him as “one of the most hawkish people I know on national security and integration.”

But according to a bluntly worded executive order from U.S. President Donald Trump, Nejatian’s Iranian birthplace now makes him “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

“This is virtue-signalling security theatre,” Nejatian told the National Post by phone from San Francisco.

On Friday, Trump issued an executive order that banned U.S. entry to nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, for 90 days.

The suddenness of the ban meant that any nationals from the affected countries who were already airborne at the time of the order were detained upon landing.

The order does not make exceptions for nationals with valid U.S. visas.

Nejatian — who helped form Canada’s own protocol for screening would-be terrorists — said the new order “almost certainly makes the U.S. less safe.”

For one thing, the ban is so blunt that it excludes foreign-born nationals regardless of their loyalty to the United States, he noted.

Source: The job-creating, anti-extremist Canadian Conservative with a maple leaf tattoo now banned from the U.S. | National Post

In Iran, Shock and Bewilderment Over Trump Visa Crackdown – The New York Times

Laying out the impact on people and families (article was written before the weekend chaos):

TEHRAN — Families, businesspeople, athletes and tourists from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa found their travel plans — and even their futures — in a state of suspension on Friday after President Trump signed an executive order temporarily barring thousands from obtaining visas to travel to the United States.

The order is expected to freeze almost all travel to the United States by citizens from the Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days. Three of those countries are considered sponsors of terrorism (Iran, Sudan and Syria), and three are designated countries of concern (Libya, Somalia and Yemen).

Passport-holders from those countries, who have American visas but are outside the United States, will not be permitted to return.

“We only want to admit those who will support our country and love deeply our people,” Mr. Trump said on Friday before signing the order at the Pentagon. “We will never forget the lessons of 9/11, nor the heroes who lost their lives at the Pentagon.”

(The 19 hijackers implicated in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack came from Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. None of those countries will be subject to what Mr. Trump described as “new vetting measures.”)

During the 90-day period, the Trump administration will assess if the foreign governments on the list are providing enough information about citizens seeking visas to enable the United States to assess whether they pose a terrorism risk. If the governments do not comply, they will be given 60 days to do so; failing that, their citizens will be barred from entering the United States.

Government reaction to the order has been cautious. But there is little doubt that the demand for information will be a challenge for Iran, which sends far more people to the United States each year, around 35,000, than any other country on the list.

While Iran willingly allows its citizens to travel to the United States, it is ideologically opposed to sharing information with Washington. But if it does not, many of its citizens will be cut off from visiting relatives who are among the estimated one million Iranian-Americans living in America.

The visa ban will provide an early indication of where relations between Tehran and the Trump administration are headed, one analyst said.


The Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti in “The Salesman.” She canceled her trip to the Academy Awards on Feb. 26 on news of President Trump’s visa crackdown.CreditHabib Majidi/Cohen Media Group, via Amazon Studios, via Associated Press 

“Trump will regard the Iranian reaction as a test,” said Farshad Ghorbanpour, who is close to the government of President Hassan Rouhani. “If Iran doesn’t comply, they won’t do so either on other issues. We will see in 30 days.”

Another analyst doubted the government would comply with the order.

“We are not obliged to give information about our citizens to the Trump administration,” said Hamidreza Taraghi, considered a hard-liner. “Such a move would be unjustifiable.”

In the United States, Americans of Iranian descent expressed shock and dismay at news of Mr. Trump’s impending policy change, and were particularly concerned about their relatives and friends in Iran.

Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, a Washington-based advocacy group, said many Iranian citizens with valid green cards and American visas were distraught. Those outside the United States are fretting they will not be allowed in, and those already in the country fear they will not be able to leave, even temporarily, because they will be barred from returning.

“There is a sense of bewilderment, as well as a sense of injustice,” over why Iran was even included on the list of targeted countries, Mr. Parsi said. No Iranian has been accused of an attack on the American homeland. By contrast, he said, the Sept. 11 attackers included citizens from countries which are not on the list — and “the United States has produced more ISIS fighters than Iran has.”

Iran’s most popular actress, Taraneh Alidoosti, announced on Twitterthat she was canceling her trip to the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Feb. 26, after reports that Mr. Trump was about to sign the sweeping executive order.

Ms. Alidoosti plays a leading role in ‘‘The Salesman,’’ directed by the acclaimed Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and nominated for best foreign film. She almost certainly could have obtained a visa as a ‘‘culturally unique artist,’’ but said she no longer felt like making the trip.

“This is not about me or the Academy Awards, it’s about having a discussion about this decision,” Ms. Alidoosti said. “This is such a bizarre ban, it is uprooting people’s lives in ways not imaginable.”

In 2015, according to the Department of Homeland Security, a total of 35,266 nonimmigrant visas were granted to Iranians to enter the United States, compared with 21,381 for Iraq; 16,010 for Syria; 5,549 for Yemen; 4,792 for Sudan; 2,879 for Libya and 359 for Somalia.


How Trump’s Executive Order Will Affect the U.S. Refugee Program

The order cuts the number of refugees to the U.S. in half and bars those from Syria.


As there is no American embassy or consulate in Iran, Iranians must travel to Ankara, Turkey, Dushanbe in Tajikistan or to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, to apply for a visa. The State Department says that more than 40 percent of all applications are rejected. There are numerous agencies in Iran and other countries that mediate and assist Iranians seeking appointments.