Arrivals from Muslim countries being detained at US airports: Reports

A file photo shows travellers waiting in line to go through the security checkpoint at  Los Angeles International Airport, California, on Dec 20, 2016.
A file photo shows travellers waiting in line to go through the security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport, California, on Dec 20, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US authorities wasted no time implementing Donald Trump's order halting Muslim arrivals, detaining travellers arriving at American airports within hours of the US President signing the tough new measures, media reports said Saturday (Jan 28).

The New York Times reported that airport officials as early as Friday night began detaining travellers, some of whom already had been aboard their flights when Trump announced his executive order closing America's borders to refugees.

Trump's order suspends entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days and indefinitely halts the admission of refugees from Syria.

 
 

It also bans entry into the United States from travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries - Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen - for 90 days.

The order paved the way for what Trump has pledged will be "extreme vetting" of visa applicants' backgrounds - with some exceptions made for members of "religious minorities," a caveat many see as a way to apply favourable treatment to Christians from majority Muslim states.

The move makes good on one of Trump's most controversial campaign promises, when he vowed to stem immigration from various Muslim countries which he insists pose a terror threat to the United States, and to subject future arrivals to "extreme vetting."

The Times said the detentions have been met with early legal challenges, as lawyers representing two Iraqi refugees being held at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport filed a court appeal for their release, alleging that the two travellers were being unlawfully detained.