Sun Jan 29, 2017 7:21AM
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (file photo by AFP)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (file photo by AFP)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says refugees are welcome to enter his country, taking an indirect stand against US President Donald Trump’s recent order to restrict the entry of nationals from seven countries into the United States.

The new US president on Friday signed an order barring all incoming nationals from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia from the United States for 90 days and suspending all refugee admissions for 120 days. Syrian refugees have exceptionally been barred from the US “indefinitely.”

In a less-than-tacit rebuttal of Trump’s policy, Trudeau wrote on his Twitter page on Saturday, “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”

Order... and then chaos

The Canadian premier also posted a picture of himself greeting a Syrian child at Toronto’s airport in late 2015.

Trump’s ban, which American media say has not been thought through and been drawn up without an understanding of the legal and other difficulties it will raise, has bewildered US officials. Homeland Security and State Department career officials, who say they have not been briefed about the specifications of the order, have had to enforce haphazard practices at airports in the absence of clear instructions.

Travelers from the listed countries have been stopped from boarding US-bound planes since the order was issued on Friday. People who were already mid-flight were detained on arrival in the US even if they held valid visas or other approved applications.

Canada has received more than 39,000 refugees from Syria alone and has promised to allow 300,000 more refugees, mostly coming in for economic reasons, from other countries in 2017.

US President Donald Trump takes the cap off a pen to sign an executive order to start building a wall on the Mexico border to stop refugees, in Washington, DC, January 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Meanwhile, Trudeau’s press secretary announced that the prime minister was set to visit Trump soon and discuss Canada’s immigration and refugee policies with the US president.

Trump has been under fire by Muslim and human rights groups as well as his Democratic rivals and some of his Republican supporters since he started calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during his presidential campaign.

With his ban on incoming nationals from the seven countries, Trump plans to enforce “extreme vetting” against potential terrorists.

When first announcing the ban, he invoked the specter of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and claimed that the US will not “forget the lessons” of the incident. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, the attacks were carried out by 19 terrorists, 15 of whom were from Saudi Arabia; the rest were from Egypt, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates. But nationals from none of those countries have been subjected to the “vetting” Trump’s executive order is supposed to enforce.