New US travel restrictions are still ‘Muslim ban’: rights groups

This file photo taken on June 29, 2017 shows people taking part in a rally to protest restrictive guidelines issued by the US on who qualifies as a close familial relationship under the Supreme Court order on the Muslim and refugee ban at Union Square in New York. (AFP / EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ)
Updated 25 September 2017
0

New US travel restrictions are still ‘Muslim ban’: rights groups

WASHINGTON: US rights groups on Monday blasted the new, open-ended version of President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions as a masked Muslim ban and pledged to keep fighting it in courts.
Despite the removal of Sudan from the expiring 90-day ban on six mainly-Muslim countries, and the addition of Chad, Venezuela and North Korea for tight restrictions or bans, activists and legal experts said Trump’s intent remained the same, to sharply cut off the flow of Muslim visitors and immigrants into the United States.
“This ban is not any better than the previous one,” said Zahra Billoo of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“The fact that Trump has added North Korea — with few visitors to the US — and a few government officials from Venezuela doesn’t obfuscate the real fact that the administration’s order is still a Muslim ban,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“President Trump’s original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list.”
Late Sunday the White House issued a new executive order to replace the expiring 90-day temporary ban on travelers from Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Somalia and Libya.
The ban, which Trump has been fighting to put in place since days after he became president in January, has been repeatedly delayed and watered down in a series of court challenges and appeals.
At the end of June, the Supreme Court allowed it finally to be implemented, with restrictions, together with a 120-day ban on refugees.
The new order Sunday, which has no expiration date, targeted eight countries but was less uniform.
North Korea, Chad, Syria, Yemen, and Libya face full bans, until they can improve their information collection on their own citizens and boost cooperation with US security authorities, who say the main target is to prevent potential terrorists from entering the country.
For Iran, an exception was left for students and exchange visitors. For Somalia, new immigrants are blocked but business, official and personal temporary visitors will be allowed, though subject to tougher vetting.
With Venezuela, only officials from certain key ministries and government agencies, and their families, are banned.
In Caracas, the foreign ministry called the US action “psychological terrorism” aimed at bringing down Venezuela’s leftist government.
The original ban is due to be heard at the Supreme Court on October 10, focusing in part on whether Muslims were targeted from the beginning.
The new order could shape the way the issue is addressed, possibly even mooting the case.
“Religion, or the religious origin of individuals or nations, was not a factor,” a senior government official told reporters on Sunday.
“The inclusion of those countries, Venezuela and North Korea, was about the fact that those governments are simply not compliant with our basic security requirements.”
But critics called that “window dressing.” One noted there were only eight visitors last year from North Korea, which does not have diplomatic relations with the United States.
Adding Chad, North Korea and Venezuelan government officials “does little to undercut the argument that the government is imposing a ban based on religion,” said Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond School of Law.
In addition, lawyers say Trump has over-extended his executive powers on placing limits on immigration.
“He’s basically rewriting the immigration law, entirely,” said Justin Cox, an attorney at the National Immigration Law Center and one of the lawyers making the arguments against the travel ban at the Supreme Court.
“If he can indefinitely ban people from these countries, he can indefinitely ban guest workers, he can indefinitely ban Mexicans, do basically whatever he wants,” Cox said.


Climate-change protesters target London Stock Exchange and Canary Wharf

Updated 25 April 2019
0

Climate-change protesters target London Stock Exchange and Canary Wharf

  • The Extinction Rebellion group has caused mass disruption in recent weeks across London
  • Police said 1,088 arrests have been made since the main protests began last Monday

LONDON: Environmental activists glued themselves to the London Stock Exchange and climbed onto the roof of a train at Canary Wharf on the final day of protests aimed at forcing Britain to take action to avert what they cast as a global climate cataclysm.
The Extinction Rebellion group has caused mass disruption in recent weeks across London, blocking Marble Arch, Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge, smashing a door at the Shell building and shocking lawmakers with a semi-nude protest in parliament.
At London Stock Exchange’s headquarters on Thursday, six protesters dressed in black suits and red ties were blocking the revolving doors of the building.
At the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station in Canary Wharf, five protesters from the group climbed aboard a train and unfurled a banner which read: “Business as usual = Death.” One glued herself to a train.
“Extinction Rebellion to focus on the financial industry today,” the group said in a statement. The “aim is to demand the finance industry tells the truth about the climate industry and the devastating impact the industry has on our planet.”
Police said 1,088 arrests have been made since the main protests began last Monday.
The group advocates non-violent civil disobedience to force governments to reduce carbon emissions and avert what it says is a global climate crisis that will bring starvation, floods, wildfires and social collapse.
The group is demanding the government declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and create a citizen’s assembly of members of the public to lead on decisions to address climate change.