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Visa holders barred from entering US as Trump’s order takes effect

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Customs and Border Protection officer at JFK Airport (File photo)

Several people, including those who are holding green cards and valid visas, have reportedly been blocked from boarding flights to the United States and some others detained at America’s airports, just hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning entry of nationals from certain Islamic countries. 

The Department of Homeland Security issued a directive on Friday, ordering the Customs and Border Protection to enforce Trump’s executive order, which bars all persons from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia from entering the United States for 90 days.

The order also suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days until the president determines they have been sufficiently changed.

Since it took effect on Friday, the order has sparked legal limbo for those who already were on their way to the US. According to several reports, green card holders -- legal permanent residents of the US -- were also among those who have been prevented from getting on flights. This is while, green cards are not specifically mentioned in the executive order.

Thus, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) called on Iranian green-card holders “not [to] leave the US until further clarity is achieved.”

Several Iraqi passengers and a Yemeni national, who had valid visas for the US, were blocked from boarding a flight at Egypt’s Cairo airport bound for New York on Saturday, The Guardian cited airport officials.

At least two Iraqis were detained after flying in to New York's JFK airport on Friday night. Their lawyers filed a lawsuit against the measure on Saturday, demanding their clients be released, The New York Times reported.

Google chief executive officer Sundar Pichai (Photo by AFP)

One of the Iraqis, named as Hameed Khalid Darweesh, is said to have worked on behalf of the US government in Iraq for 10 years and the second detained Iraqi, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, was reportedly traveling to New York to join his wife and young son.

Meanwhile; Google recalled its traveling employees, who may be affected by the order, to return to the US immediately. The tech company’s Chief executive officer Sundar Pichai expressed concern about the new order, saying even though they have valid visas, they would be blocked from returning to the US.

He denounced Trump's order, saying “It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues," Bloomberg reported. According to him, 100 of Google employees were affected by the order.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg also slammed Trump and condemned his bans on refugees. “The United States is a nation of immigrants, and we should be proud of that."

Trump, however, has given Homeland Security 60 days to begin providing him with the names of other countries to add to the list.

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