Theresa May does ‘not agree’ with US ban on refugees

Media captionTheresa May: “Well, the United States is responsible for the United States policy on refugees”

Theresa May does “not agree” with Donald Trump’s refugee ban and will appeal to the US if it affects British citizens, Downing Street has said.

The prime minister was criticised for refusing to condemn President Trump’s executive order on Saturday.

It halted all refugee admissions and has temporarily barred people from seven Muslim-majority countries.

At an earlier news conference in Turkey, Mrs May said it was up to the US to decide its own policy.

Mr Trump’s executive order, signed on Friday, halted the entire US refugee programme and also instituted a 90-day travel ban for nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

A US judge has issued a stay temporarily halting the deportation of visa holders or refugees “caught up” in the aftermath of the ban’s imposition.

Mrs May visited the US on Friday, followed by a trip to Turkey, and within hours of landing back in the UK, Downing Street released a statement clarifying her position.

“Immigration policy in the United States is a matter for the government of the United States, just the same as immigration policy for this country should be set by our government,” said a spokesman.

“But we do not agree with this kind of approach and it is not one we will be taking.”

‘Sad day’

Mrs May’s refusal to openly challenge the ban at Saturday’s press conference prompted criticism from politicians, including Conservative MPs.

Nadhim Zahawi, Tory MP for Stratford-on-Avon, is of Iraqi origin and said a US immigration lawyer had told him he would be affected by the ban.

“A sad, sad day to feel like a second-class citizen,” he said. “Sad day for the USA.”

There are also concerns that British athletes such as Sir Mo Farah, who lives in the US but was was born in Somalia, and former Team GB basketball player Luol Deng, who was born in Sudan and now plays with the Los Angeles Lakers, could be affected.

Number 10 said it was studying the executive order and would “make representations” to the US government if any UK nationals were affected.

But Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May showed “weak failure” in standing up for British values.

“President Trump’s executive order against refugees and Muslims should shock and appal us all,” he added.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “The PM should have said this the first time she was asked, not hours later and only under pressure.”

Holidaymaker in ‘crazy’ situation

Image copyright
Hamaseh Tayari

Image caption

Hamaseh Tayari could not journey home because her connecting flight went to New York

A post-graduate veterinary student from Glasgow says she is “upset” and “afraid” after being refused boarding for her flight home to Scotland.

Hamaseh Tayari, who holds an Iranian passport, was due to fly back from a holiday in Costa Rica to New York, and then from New York to Glasgow, but was stopped due to the ban.

Ms Tayari said staff at San Jose airport in Costa Rica were sympathetic, but added: “It’s a crazy thing that I really didn’t expect to happen to me.”

The only alternative she and her boyfriend were able to find was a new flight from San Jose to Madrid and then on to London and finally Glasgow. But that has cost them almost £2,600 which she described as “all our money for the next few months”.

A spokesman for the university said it was “extremely concerned” and was doing all it could to support her.

Heidi Allen, Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, said on Twitter: “Strong leadership means not being afraid to tell someone powerful when they’re wrong.”

Conservative peer Baroness Warsi wrote on Twitter: “The moment we once again lost a little more moral authority. The hypocrisy of the debate on #Britishvalues becomes more stark by the day.”

At a news conference in Ankara with Turkish Prime Minister Benali Yildirim on Saturday, Mrs May said the US was responsible for its own refugee policy.

She added: “The United Kingdom is responsible for the United Kingdom’s policy on refugees.

“[This] is to have a number of voluntary schemes to bring Syrian refugees into the country, particularly those who are most vulnerable, but also to provide significant financial contributions to support refugees in countries surrounding Syria.”


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