Police guard a checkpoint at San Francisco airport after the order, which played havoc with many travellers’ plans. (Reuters: Kate Munsch)
The White House has defended its implementation of US President Donald Trump’s executive action targeting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, saying only two dozen travellers remain detained.
- British PM Theresa May does “not agree” with Donald Trump’s ban, spokesperson says
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel raises 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention with Mr Trump
- French President Francois Hollande says Europe “should respond” to Mr Trump when he rejects refugees
“It wasn’t chaos,” Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said on NBC’s Meet the Press program, adding that 325,000 travellers entered the United States on Saturday and 109 of them were detained.
“Most of those people were moved out.
“We’ve got a couple dozen more that remain and I would suspect that as long as they’re not awful people that they will move through before another half a day today.”
Meanwhile, the order drew criticism from a number of European leaders and triggered protests in a number of airports across the US, despite it being partially blocked by a federal judge’s ruling that stranded travellers could stay in the country.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said she did “not agree” with Mr Trump’s order and would challenge the US Government if it had an adverse effect on British nationals.
The official comment came after Ms May refused to condemn the ban during a visit to Turkey to meet with Turkish leaders. She said in Turkey the decision was a matter solely for the US.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke out against the ban, saying the fight against terrorism was no excuse for banning refugees.
“She is convinced that even the necessary, resolute fight against terrorism doesn’t justify putting people of a particular origin or particular faith under general suspicion,” spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
Ms Merkel raised the issue during a phone call with Mr Trump on Saturday, citing the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention that calls on signatories to take in people fleeing war, Mr Seibert said.
“The German Government will now examine what consequences the US Government’s measures have for German citizens with dual citizenship and, if necessary, represent their interests toward our American partners,” he said.
Among the first leaders to voice criticism was French President Francois Hollande, who said Saturday that “when [Trump] rejects the arrival of refugees, while Europe has done its duty, we should respond to him”.
He was joined by France’s Foreign Minister, who said in a tweet that “accepting refugees is a duty of solidarity”.
“Terrorism knows no nationality. Discrimination is no response,” he said.
The order also stirred angry reactions in Iraq, one of the countries listed, where more than 5,000 US troops are deployed to help Iraqi and regional Kurdish forces in the war against Islamic State insurgents.
Some members of parliament said Iraq should retaliate with similar measures against the US.
“Iraq is in the front line of the war on terrorism … and it is unfair that the Iraqis are treated in this way,” parliament’s foreign affairs committee said in a statement.
Video: Activists protest Trump’s ‘racist, unconstitutional’ ban on Muslim-majority nationals entering the US
‘No one is to be removed’
Meanwhile, nationalist and far-right groups in Europe applauded the US travel restrictions.
Dutch anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders said in a tweet: “Well done @POTUS it’s the only way to stay safe + free. I would do the same. Hope you’ll add more Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia soon.”
The far-right National Democratic Party in Germany celebrated what it described as “the massive restriction on the entry of pseudo-refugees and Muslims to the USA”.
Mr Trump’s executive order plunged America’s immigration system into chaos, with legal US residents being turned away at airports.
The US ban affects travellers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. According to State Department guidance, travellers with dual nationality will also be affected.
But the order was partially stayed by an emergency court ruling, in response to a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Iraqi men Hameed Khalid Darweesh, who had been an interpreter for the US military, and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi.
The ruling, by Judge Ann Donnelly of a US District Court in New York, was cheered at Boston’s Logan International Airport — one of several major US airports where protesters angry with Mr Trump’s order gathered.
“I am directing the Government to stop removal if there is someone right now in danger of being removed,” she said in the court hearing. “No one is to be removed in this class.”
US Department of Justice attorney Susan Riley during the hearing said: “This has unfolded with such speed that we haven’t had an opportunity to address all the legal issues.”
The lawsuit on behalf of the Iraqis challenged Mr Trump’s order on several grounds. It said the order violated the US constitution’s guarantee of due process by taking away their ability to apply for asylum, and violated the guarantee of equal protection by discriminating against them on the basis of their country of origin without sufficient justification.
It also said the order violated procedural requirements of federal rulemaking. The next hearing in the case was set for February 10.
Mr Trump had promised during his campaign what he called “extreme vetting” of immigrants and refugees to try to prevent terror attacks.