KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 ― At least one traveller from Malaysia was among the 71 detained at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport yesterday, following a seven-nation travel blacklist issued by President Donald Trump in an executive order.
According to No Ban JFK, a group of lawyers and volunteers assisting those affected by the ban at the airport, travellers from Malaysia were among those embroiled as the enforcement of the immigration order against Muslims enters the fourth day.
It is as yet unknown if the traveller is a Malaysian or a passport holder of another country who exited Malaysia and was caught.
“This ban clearly affects more than just the seven targeted countries,” Camille Mackler, director of legal initiative at the New York Immigration Coalition said in a statement.
“And the turmoil inflicted by this sudden disruption is spilling over into the broader United States, as family members desperately seek to reunite with their loved ones. Students and professionals continue to be blocked from their homes, schools and workplaces.
“We have been here since the ban was imposed, advocating for those caught in the dragnet. We are especially concerned with individuals being prevented from boarding flights at points of departure,” Mackler said.
“As of press time, the ban has affected travelers from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Turkey, Libya, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, France, Algeria, Jordan, China, Malaysia, Qatar, Senegal, Switzerland, Algeria, Egypt, and Guinea,” the group said.
Sri Lanka, France, China and Switzerland are not countries with dominant Muslim community.
According to No Ban JFK, the individuals detained have had their laptops seized, were denied interpretation, and were also questioned about views on terror group Islamic State.
US-based news portal Mic.com reporter Jack Smith IV previously tweeted that Malaysia was on a list of 20 new countries banned by the US after an Trump’s executive order on travellers from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Smith later clarified to Malay Mail Online and on his Twitter account that the countries on his list have not been added to the seven-country blacklist.
Malay Mail Online has contacted the Foreign Ministry and the US Embassy in Malaysia for clarification on the issue and is awaiting a response.
Last Sunday, the US Embassy was reported saying by The Star Online that Malaysians are not affected by the order and continue to travel to the United States with a valid visa.
The executive order by Trump, signed on Friday, suspends the US refugee resettlement programme for 120 days.
The order also decreed all visa applications from seven Muslim countries ― Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen ― to be put on hold for at least 90 days.
The ban has sparked protests on airports across the US involving thousands of angry Americans.
A US federal judge has since issued a temporary stay against the order.
Malaysia’s Pakatan Harapan Opposition pact is planning a gathering in front of the US Embassy here this Friday to protest against Trump’s immigration ban.