Trump’s Muslim-targetted immigration ban

The Canadian government continued to play a balancing act between securing Canadian interests (ensuring that Canadian dual nationals would not be affected, later extended to Canadian permanent residents) while, in what may become a pattern, a PM tweet affirming Canadian values with respect to diversity and refugees (PMO says Canadian dual citizens can travel freely to the U.S. despite Trump travel ban ). British PM May was later to obtain a similar exemption for British dual nationals.

But as outrage mounted, the government responded by having IRCC Minister Hussen announce that  Canada will offer temporary residency to people stranded in Canada as a result of the ban.

As Michael den Tandt notes, Donald Trump’s refugee ban pushes Canadian politicians to forge common front:

In closing America’s borders to refugees and banning visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations including U.S.-allied Iraq, President Donald Trump has managed the seemingly impossible; to shove Conservative stalwart Jason Kenney and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, long-time foes, into the same tent.

They’re joined there by Saskatchewan conservative premier Brad Wall, Alberta New Democratic premier Rachel Notley, B.C. Liberal premier Christy Clark, Ontario Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne, Toronto conservative mayor John Tory, as well as federal Conservative leadership candidates Deepak Obhrai and Michael Chong — all of whom spoke in support of helping refugees Saturday, in response to Trump’s move, as did Kenney and Trudeau.

Such an unlikely political agglomeration could only occur under extraordinary circumstances, which these are. Just over a week into his presidency, Trump’s series of jarring statements and draconian executive orders have left federal Conservatives divided, federal New Democrats struggling to find a role and Trudeau’s Liberals carefully threading their way through a crisis unlike any in modern memory.

Large and smaller players in the tech industry have been vocal (Tech leaders finally find their voice, opposing Trump’s Muslim ban: ‘So un-American, it pains us all.’) with the best quote from Netflix’s CEO Hastings:

Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all. Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe. A very sad week, and more to come with the lives of over 600,000 Dreamers here in a America under imminent threat. It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity.

Meanwhile, the Canadian tech industry called for the government to  give temporary residency to those displaced by a U.S. order banning the entry of people from seven Muslim-majority countries (Canadian Executives Urge Govt Action After Trump Muslim Ban …) – done, while others in the industry see the ban as an opportunity:

Canadian technology executives are making plans to capitalize on U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration orders, using the new president’s crackdown to help their efforts to recruit skilled workers from overseas.

“I think it’s really sad and horrible from a political landscape perspective, but very selfishly it’s an incredible opportunity” said Dennis Pilarinos, a former Microsoft executive whose 22-person software startup in Vancouver, Buddybuild, is in hiring mode. “It’s a chance to welcome incredibly talented engineers who might not have otherwise considered roles in Canada.”

 Trump immigration ban ‘a boon’ for Canadian tech industry, say executives 

Some of the better commentary I have seen to date include that of H.A. Hellyer:

What is there to say about this – except that it is all utterly and wholly outrageous.

There is only one respectable response to this policy from Americans inside the U.S. and leaders outside of the U.S. – unreserved and unqualified condemnation.

But no one should assume that is going to be the automatic retort. On the contrary: Republicans who mocked and denounced Mr. Trump for touting the proposed policy during the presidential election and primaries are now either giving silent consent, or openly supporting their new leader. My own Prime Minister, didn’t take the opportunity, when asked, to say she deplored the policy – instead, Theresa May said that the U.S. was responsible for its own policies.

It would be foolish to say that this policy will radicalize Muslims worldwide – they’re not automatons who will readily flip just because of a stupid and bigoted policy from this U.S. presidency. But make no mistake – this policy does give a huge amount of fodder to Islamic State and the extremist Islamist narrative. They will use and abuse it for years to come.

An irony of ironies: The only people happy with this policy today are right-wing populists in the West, and extremist Islamists worldwide. The free world has just become a lot less free – and certainly not one bit safer.

 Trump’s ‘vetting’ just made the world less free – and less safe

Shaista Aziz (which provoked the greatest number of retweets that I have ever had) calls out British PM May for not saying anything publicly during her meeting with Trump (not known whether she said anything privately):

As a journalist who happens to be a British Muslim woman, I’ve been following the dog whistle politics of the U.S. election campaign and now the car crash Trump presidency in much the same way I followed the Brexit build up and final outcome.

There are many parallels: Mr. Trump’s victory triggered a spike in hate crime across the country, just as Brexit did across the United Kingdom. The incendiary racist language and ‘othering’ of British and American Muslims, the fake facts, fake news and demonizing of immigrants has created an environment where open bigotry is flourishing.

All of this has left many citizens here and across the Atlantic Ocean terrified and worried for the safety and well-being of their loved ones: It feels like our humanity is being questioned and stamped on daily, our value as human beings continues to be down graded by populist politicians and right wing media outlets.

It was behind this backdrop that British Prime Minister Theresa May became the first leader in the world invited to meet Mr. Trump at the White House. All eyes were on Ms. May as she congratulated Mr. Trump on his “stunning” victory and went on to laud the special relationship between both countries. Incidentally, as part of this special relationship, Mr. Trump was seen grabbing Ms. May’s hand as they walked outside the White House.

Last year, Ms. May said she would stand up for the ‘dignity’ of all British citizens when asked about Trump’s Muslim ban proposals. So the meeting was Ms. May’s moment. This was the time to call out Mr. Trump on his Muslim ban and bigotry. She could have said: What you are doing is anti-American. She could have said: President Trump, you are guilty of hate crimes against your people. Religious freedoms, she could have said, are key to any open and free society. And targeting any person on the basis of their religion is hateful and cruel and not a policy welcome in any office.

She could have sent a clear signal to British Muslims and the rest of the population that she is she is serious about tackling Islamophobia and about building a truly cohesive nation.

Instead, her shameful silence toward Mr. Trump and his shameful Muslim ban will only seek to embolden those looking to fuel division and hate.

 Let’s call Trump’s Muslim ban what it really is: A hate crime 

The best article I have seen on who is included and who is excluded is from the Atlantic (What Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration Does—and Doesn’t Do), with the correction that Canadian dual citizens are exempt. This of course keeps on changing as the White House continues to improvise; not only is the ban wrong from moral and policy perspectives, it demonstrates the incompetence of the Trump administration in implementation.

And nice to see Jason Kenney, obviously affected by some of the people he knows affected by the ban, back on the national stage do a 10 tweet takedown of the ban:

1/ Just spoke to a former staffer of mine who was raised in Iran. Immigrated to Canada at 14, he ran as a Conservative for Parliament at 19.

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

2/ He is so Canadian he has a maple leaf tattoo. He despises the Iranian dictatorship & would be thrown in jail if he returned there. He has

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

3/ renounced Iranian citizenship, & is one of the most hawkish people I know on national security & integration. He is running a successful

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

4/ startup in the USA. As a result of yesterday’s Executive Order, he is now barred from entering USA, where he has created dozens of jobs.

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

5/ Yazidi refugees from Daesh’s genocide, US military officers of Iranian origin & countless others join him in being inadmissible to the US

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

6/ Meanwhile, Wahabi militants from Saudi Arabia are unaffected by this EO. This is not about national security. It is a brutal, ham-fisted

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

7/ act of demagogic political theatre. Now we are hopelessly polarized between the false choice of open-border naïveté and xenophobia.

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

8/ The Government of Canada should immediately facilitate temporary residency for bona fide travellers stranded by the EO, e.g. by issuing

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

9/ministerial instructions to visa officers for issuance of Temporary Residence Permits under Sec 25 of Immigration & Refugee Protection Act

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

10/ Republicans in Congress who (rightly) challenged President Obama for making law through EOs should now challenge President Trump’s EO.

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

Lastly, the reaction of the Iranian government, given that the largest group affected are Iranian, with the director of The Salesman, Oscar winning director Asghar Farhadi, announcing that he and those involved in the film will not attend given the ban and related uncertainty:

In a statement released in response to the ban, which temporarily prohibits citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering the U.S., the ministry warned that Trump’s move would only help terrorist groups in their recruiting efforts. “The United States administration’s decision to impose a ban against Muslims’ travel to the US – though for a temporary three-month period – is a flagrant insult to the Muslim world, specially the great Iranian nation; and despite claims about confronting terrorism and protecting security of the American people, it will be recorded in the history as a great gift to extremists and their sponsors,” the statement said. The ban, which includes Iran, “has targeted the Iranian people and is an obvious insult to each and every member of the Iranian nation,” the ministry said.

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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