‘Immigrants are the fabric of America,’ says US student studying at UEA, as protests against immigration restrictions organised in Norwich
PUBLISHED: 14:59 30 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:27 31 January 2017
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Hundreds of people in Norwich are expected to protest against controversial immigration restrictions introduced in the USA by President Donald Trump.
Three groups aim to take to the steps of City Hall on Wednesday evening, to show their disagreement with the executive order, which bans travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries. They are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
One of the groups behind the protest is Stand Up To Racism, and organiser Julie Bremner said it was a show of solidarity against discrimination.
Ms Bremner said: “Muslims are being stereotyped and being labelled as terrorists, but the facts remain that the countries affected are not the countries people committing terrorism have come from.
“No Syrian refugees have committed acts of terrorism in America, as far as we know.”
She said she hoped there would be a good turnout, as more than 100 people had already registered their interest in less than 24 hours.
Sirajul Islam, from Norwich Central Mosque, Rose Lane, is due to speak at the event. He said he thought the restrictions were inhuman.
Mr Islam said: “It’s not really a human way of dealing with people, I feel like it’s disrespectful of people’s human rights, which is encouraging some bad people who are doing the killing, they are the minority.
“It’s not nice seeing the images on the television,” he added. “But the support from people turning out is encouraging.”
For Emily Tornquist, a 20-year-old student studying at the UEA for a semester, being in the UK whilst this all happened offered her a different perspective.
Miss Tornquist, who studies English, said the restrictions were not in the spirit of what America stood for.
“It’s disgusting, there are people who have called America home for over 40 years, immigrants are the fabric of America,” she said.
“[The order] is so different to what we grew up thinking America stood for, we’re told it’s a place and home for everybody, it’s the American dream, but you grow up and realise that might not be the case.”
What we know so far
US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday that makes major changes to America’s immigration system, sparking confusion at airports, protests around the country and denunciations from leaders around the world.
Here is a look at what he ordered and the reaction:
Mr Trump’s executive order temporarily suspends all immigration for citizens of seven majority Muslim countries for 90 days. They are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
The order also calls for Homeland Security and State Department officials, along with the director of national intelligence, to review what information the government needs to fully vet would-be visitors and come up with a list of countries that do not provide it.
The order says the government will give countries 60 days to start providing the information or citizens from those countries will be barred from travelling to the US.
Green card holders and dual citizens
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a statement on Sunday declaring that in the absence of information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, residency would be a “dispositive factor in our case-by-case determination”.
That means citizens of the seven target countries who hold permanent US residency “green cards” will not be barred from re-entering the US, as officials had previously said.
Officials also clarified on Sunday that dual citizens who are nationals of one of the seven target countries and a country that is not on the list will be subject to additional security screenings, but are likely to be allowed through.
Mr Trump ordered a four-month suspension of America’s refugee programme. The suspension is intended to provide time to review how refugees are vetted before they are allowed to resettle in the US.
The order also cuts the number of refugees the US plans to accept this budget year by more than half, to 50,000 people from around the world.
During the last budget year the US accepted 84,995 refugees, including 12,587 people from Syria. President Barack Obama had set the current refugee limit at 110,000.
The temporary halt to refugee admissions does include exceptions for people claiming religious persecution, as long as their religion is a minority faith in their country.
Mr Trump’s order directs the State Department to stop issuing visas to Syrian nationals and halts the processing of Syrian refugees. That will remain in effect until Mr Trump determines that enough security changes have been made to ensure that would-be terrorists cannot exploit weaknesses in the current vetting system.
Mr Trump’s order did not spell out specifically what additional steps he wants to see the Homeland Security and State Departments add to the country’s vetting system for refugees. Instead he directed officials to the review the refugee application and approval process to find any other security measures that can be added to prevent people who pose a threat from using the refugee program.
During the Obama administration, vetting for refugees included in-person interviews overseas, where they provided biographical details about themselves, including their families, friendships, social or political activities, employment, phone numbers, email accounts and more. They also provided biometric information, including fingerprints.
Syrians were subject to additional, classified controls that administration officials at the time declined to describe, and processing for that group routinely took years to complete.
The response at home
Mr Trump’s order sparked an immediate backlash and sowed chaos and outrage, with travellers getting detained at airports, panicked families searching for relatives and protesters marching against the sweeping measure - parts of which were blocked by several federal courts.
Protests were held across the country, including in sight of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York City and at international airports where travellers were temporarily detained.
The response abroad
Leaders of Britain and Germany joined other American allies in criticising Mr Trump’s entry ban, voicing anger and dismay, even as some far-right politicians expressed hope the move would inspire similar measures in Europe. The far-right National Democratic Party in Germany, for instance, celebrated “the massive restriction on the entry of pseudo-refugees and Muslims to the USA”.
A petition on the British Parliament’s website, meanwhile, attracted hundreds of thousands of signatures backing its call for Mr Trump, who has been invited to meet the Queen, to be barred on the basis of misogyny and vulgarity.
• The protest in Norwich will be held on Wednesday, February 2, from 6pm to 8pm, outside City Hall.