Turnbull keeps out of Trump ban debate
The US president has issued an executive order banning the US from taking in people from seven Muslim-majority countries which he said were sources of terror: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.
Trump administration officials clarified the policy on Monday, saying green card holders would still be able to enter the country, however they would face extra checks on arrival if they were dual nationals from “terror-source” countries.
The US Department of Homeland Security told reporters on the weekend 109 people who were in transit on planes had been denied entry and 173 had not been allowed to board their planes overseas.
The International Refugee Assistance Project said a 17-year-old orphan from Afghanistan, whose entire family was killed by a land mine in Kabul, was not allowed on his flight home to the US.
The prime minister told reporters in Canberra on Monday the embassy in Washington was “engaging with US officials on this subject”.
“But at this stage, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has not had any consular assistance requests from Australians unable to board,” Turnbull said.
“If cases do arise, then we will take them up with the government.”
Turnbull said it was not his job to comment on the domestic policies of other countries, but Australia had a tough border control system which was the envy of the world.
Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Senator Penny Wong wrote to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Monday seeking clarification on the impact of the decision on dual national Australians.
“This is causing a great deal of concern to members of our community,” Wong wrote.
The executive order bars people from the seven nations from entering the US for the next 90 days and suspends the admission of all refugees for 120 days.
There are also critics from within Trump’s own Republican party.
Chairman of the US Senate committee on armed services and former presidential candidate John McCain said in a statement the confusion at American airports showed the order was “not properly vetted”.
“We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help.
“And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children.”
McCain said it would also become a “self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism”.
Counter-terrorism expert and Labor MP Dr Anne Aly said if the decision was about national security, it targeted the wrong countries.
The men involved in the September 11 attacks on the US came from Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Turnbull also confirmed he did not discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal with Trump in Sunday’s 25-minute phone call, as the issue had been canvassed in a previous call.
Trump last week signed an executive order to pull the US out of the 12-country agreement.
The UK and Canada have negotiated a deal with the Trump administration to enable their citizens and permanent residents from the seven target countries to enter the US.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement on Monday she would seek something similar.
“I have directed our officials in Washington DC to work with US officials to ensure any preferential treatment extended to any other country in relation to travel and entry to the United States is extended to Australia,” she said.
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