Galvanising Responses From Around The World To Trump’s Immigration Ban

Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
Protestors rally during a demonstration against the Muslim immigration ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28, 2017 in New York City. President Trump signed the controversial executive order that halted refugees and residents from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
Unless you spent this weekend under a rock (we wouldn't blame you if you did, to be honest), you've probably heard about the repercussions of Donald Trump's executive order banning people from certain countries from entering the United States. The new president's executive order imposed a freeze on refugee admissions and a ban on travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – and said the US would favour religious minorities when travel from these countries is reopened. Trump, meanwhile, insisted it was "not a Muslim ban". The ban's impact was felt pretty much straight away, with approved refugees, valid visa holders, non-US dual citizens and US legal residents being detained, barred from planes or ordered out of the country. Immigration lawyers and employers warned people not to leave the US in case they are banned from re-entering. All in all, it's been a bleak and deeply distressing weekend of news – spare a thought for the refugees directly affected – that has highlighted some of the most depressing sides to humanity. But there have been some heartening developments to come out of the story (we hesitate to say 'positive' because, well, 'positive' would mean that none of this would be happening at all). Here are just some of the ways in which the ban has galvanised people.

Peaceful protests are happening across the US

Thousands of people have gathered in cities and airports all over the country to protest against the ban, after some 100 people were held at airports on Friday and Saturday. Most of the protests have been peaceful. In Washington DC, people held signs that read "refugees welcome" and those gathered outside the White House gates shouted "Shame", The Guardian reported. Chelsea Clinton even attended a demo at Manhattan's Battery Park, within sight of the Statue of Liberty, traditionally a welcoming sight to refugees and immigrants arriving from abroad. “We will keep standing up for a country that matches our values and ideals for all,” she tweeted.

More protests are planned worldwide

As last week's Women's Marches showed, it's not just Americans who are united against the US's new government, and protests have been organised around the world in response to the travel ban. An emergency protest is planned in London this evening from 6pm, organised by Guardian columnist and activist Owen Jones, with speeches from high-profile politicians including Ed Miliband, Caroline Lucas and Mhairi Black. Other protests will also take place across the UK in cities including Manchester, Bristol, Brighton, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, York, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Swansea. Facebook events for anti-Trump demos in Belgium, Canada, Denmark and India have also been created.

Foreign governments have condemned the ban

Several countries, including longstanding American allies, have criticised the executive order, calling it divisive and an act of discrimination. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Trump's reasoning – fighting global terrorism – "does not justify putting people of a specific background or faith under general suspicion", Reuters reported. French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said, "Terrorism knows no nationality. Discrimination is no response", and even British foreign secretary Boris Johnson – who has previously spoken favourably of Trump – tweeted that it was "Divisive and wrong to stigmatise because of nationality." Countries in the Arab League, many of which are affected by the ban, also expressed concern and said the move was unjustified. Iranian MP Zahra Saei condemned the ban, announcing she would boycott a Commission on the Status of Women event in New York in protest.

Brits have united against the US president

Over 1.2 million people have signed a petition to stop Trump from making a state visit to the UK, which was announced by Prime Minister Theresa May during her recent trip to Washington. The petition has become the most popular on the government's website and MPs will discuss it in Parliament on Tuesday, the BBC reported. "Donald Trump's well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales," reads the petition. "Therefore during the term of his presidency Donald Trump should not be invited to the United Kingdom for an official State Visit." Downing Street, however, dismissed calls for it to be cancelled as a "populist gesture" and said it would "undo everything" May achieved at her meeting with Trump last week.

Starbucks pledged to hire 10,000 refugees

In an open letter to staff, the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, vowed to hire 10,000 refugees globally over the next five years in response to the ban. He said Trump's order has caused "confusion, surprise and opposition". The promise was "a concerted effort to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination", he said. Schultz said the company, which has more than 25,000 stores in 75 countries, would "neither stand by, nor stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new administration's actions grows with each passing day".

Airbnb offered free housing to those affected by the travel ban

The homestay network announced that it will provide free housing for anyone left stranded by the travel ban. "Open doors brings all of US together," the company's CEO Brian Chesky tweeted on Sunday. "Closing doors further divides US. Let's all find ways to connect people, not separate them." He added: "Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected." Other tech companies including Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Netflix have also voiced their opposition to the ban, and expressed the importance of immigration to their industry.

The SAG awards was basically an anti-Trump protest

Countless celebrities used their moment in the spotlight to rail against the ban at last night's Screen Actors Guild awards. Big Bang Theory actor Simon Helberg held a sign reading "Refugees welcome", while his wife Jocelyn Towne had "Let them in" written across her chest. Host Ashton Kutcher kicked off the ceremony by welcoming viewers watching at home, "And everyone in airports that belong in my America,” he added angrily. "You are a part of who we are, and we love you, and we welcome you." Countless other stars also voiced anti-Trump sentiments and support for immigrants and refugees, including Emma Stone, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mahershala Ali, Taylor Schilling and Taraji P. Henson. Meanwhile, British actor Riz Ahmed said: “If people care about the future of this country and the world…it’s time to make your voices heard.” Ahmed also launched a campaign to help Syrian refugees and is extending it in response to the travel ban.

... And the Oscars look set to follow suit

People affected by the new restrictions have already vowed not to attend this year's Oscars. Asghar Farhadi, an Iranian filmmaker who is nominated for best foreign language film, said he wouldn't attend even if he were offered an exemption, reported The Guardian. Even before the ban was announced, Iranian actor Taraneh Alidoosti, who stars in Farhadi's film The Salesman and lives in the US, said she would boycott the ceremony in protest against Trump’s immigration policies.

People are boycotting Uber

Hundreds of Twitter users began using the #DeleteUber hashtag on Sunday, accusing the company of trying to profit during a taxi strike against the refugee ban, the Washington Post reported. Taxis refused to pick up passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport to protest the refugee ban, showing solidarity with the thousands of protesters gathered there, but Uber continued to operate. Uber customers said they would use rival service Lyft instead, which also continued giving rides during the strike but had pledged to donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union, which secured the release of refugees who had been stranded in transit and successfully fought for a stay of the ban, reported the Washington Post.

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