• Nasya Smith

Trump talks tough on immigrant laws


Donald Trump has called for a tightening of the United States Refugee Admissions Program, a vetting programme for immigrants from mostly Muslim countries after last week's terror attack in which Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov killed 8 in New York City.

On October 25, the first 120-day ban on refugees from “high risk” Muslim countries came to an end. Trump then called for a 90-day period to review the programme. Trump added that the new programme would be more enhanced. On November 1, after the terror attack by Saipov, Trump tweeted that the already-tough vetting programme would be even more strictly regulated.

Saipov is an Uzbekistan national, who lived in Jersey, and acted out a truck attack on Halloween, leaving eight people dead. He had legally immigrated to the US in 2010 as part of the diversity immigrant visa programme. Notably, Uzbekistan was not one of the 11 countries (Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) included in the previous refugee ban.

Trump has twice tweeted that Saipov should receive the death penalty.

Anti-vetting programme activists

Bill Frelick, director of Human Rights Watch's refugee rights programme, criticised the vetting programme and said that if the US withdrew refugee support it would "hurt people who have trusted the United States, destabilise friendly governments, and make the world less safe for everyone – including, ultimately, the United States itself". Frelick also called Trump's ban a "scare-mongering" tactic.

"No system is 100% free of risk. But Mr Trump’s scare-mongering on refugees is out of all proportion to reality: Of the nearly 800,000 refugees resettled in the US since September 11 2001, three refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities, and none of them involved plans to mount attacks inside the United States."

Indonesia

Indonesia is also following suit on stricter laws to prevent Islamic extremism. On Tuesday, October 24, put into law a policy that President Joko Widodo set in a decree in Indonesia in July. This approval does not require a court order. Indonesia is known to have the highest Muslim population in the world at 87% and prides itself as being a religious-tolerant country.

The new law has been put into place to protect the Pancasila. Pancasila, the secular state ideology theory, encourages five principles – the belief in God, just and civilised humanity, unity of the country, democracy and social justice.

Legal experts and human rights activists have warned the government that this could give way to authoritarian rulership even after extremist Islamic groups have been removed from Indonesian society.

Australia

Australia is currently using "push-back" methods to force migrant and asylum-seeker boats to return to the countries from which they came. This method falls under the "Stop the Boats" policy which was adopted in 2013 to combat high numbers of migrants and asylum-seekers from entering the country.

Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, compiled a report in which she highlighted the dangers of the current state of the migrant situation in Australia. She said that Australia was the destination of one of the main migration and flight routes from the Islamic Republic of Iran via Indonesia.

Callamard said that the "Stop the Boats" policy was in direct violation of the right to live as the policy puts the migrants in the way of potential harm. "Such practices raise serious concerns: they may intentionally put lives at risk, given that security officials know, but disregard, the reality that returnees may be victims of brutal crimes when returned under these circumstances. This may amount to excessive use of force by proxy; it is disproportionate and unnecessary," says Callamard.

As part of the "push-back" method, hundreds of migrants fled to Manus Island. It is estimated that about 1,000 men, women and children drowned during this retreat.

Since Tuesday, October 31, water and electricity have been cut on the island.


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