Financial Times

Trump defiant as protests mount against US travel ban on Muslims

by Sam Fleming, Financial Times

January 30, 2017 | 10:12 am
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Clampdown targets 7 nations; Global hostility grows; Legal challenges at home

Donald Trump has defended his order to clamp down on people entering the US from seven predominantly Muslim countries in the face of protests and legal assaults at home and mounting hostility around the globe.

Following a night of demonstrations at US airports and an order from a federal judge blocking the deportation of migrants and refugees who had been detained, Mr Trump tweeted that the country needed “strong borders and extreme vetting NOW”.

“Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world – a horrible mess,” he wrote.

The White House measure bars refugees from entry for 120 days and indefinitely prohibits entry for Syrian refugees. It also barred citizens from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days.

The move provoked protests from civil liberties campaigners, tech industry leaders and foreign governments.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, said the US should be proud to be a nation of immigrants and exclude only those who posed an actual threat. Leaders of Google, Apple, Netflix and Twitter joined the criticism.

Angela Merkel, German chancellor, said it was no way to fight terrorism. Her spokesman said the chancellor “regrets” the move and had expressed Germany’s misgivings during a phone call with Mr Trump on Saturday.

British prime minister Theresa May, initially wrong footed by the travel ban, signed hours after she left Washington after a cordial meeting with Mr Trump on Friday, said the UK did not agree with such an approach.

During the election campaign Mr Trump called for a complete ban on Muslims entering the US. At the time, it sparked a harsh reaction from Democrats and many Republicans, including Mike Pence, now vice-president.

Following Friday’s order, leading Republicans largely fell into line behind the president. Paul Ryan, speaker of the House of Representatives, who sharply criticised Mr Trump when he proposed a blanket ban, said: “President Trump is right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country.”

Mitch McConnell, the top Republican senator, said he was not against tightening the vetting process but it was up to the courts to determine if the ban was too broad.

Mr Trump denied the order amounted to a “Muslim ban”. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said it could create “a bit of inconvenience” but the country did not want to allow someone to “slip through the cracks ”.

Asked why countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt were not included on the list even though terrorists who had killed Americans had ­originated there, Reince Priebus, Mr Trump’s chief of staff, said: “Perhaps other countries need to be added.” Additional reporting by Barney Jopson in Washington


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by Sam Fleming, Financial Times

January 30, 2017 | 10:12 am
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