Federal Judge James Robart’s temporary nationwide block against Donald Trump’s dangerous executive order on immigration has, predictably, infuriated the president, who lashed out at the Seattle judge in personal terms and vowed to fight the stay in court, setting up a constitutional crisis.
Following announcement of the ban, the stories of confusion and chaos came flooding in from airports: from the Somali mother of two held for twenty hours without food at Dulles airport, even though her children were US citizens, to the Yemeni brothers en route to Flint, Michigan, to reunite with their father, but who were detained at Dulles, coerced into relinquishing their green cards, and forced on a flight to Ethiopia.
Nor was it clear if the Trump ban applied to dual nationals—those born in one of the seven countries but who hold other passports. On the day after the EO was released, The Wall Street Journal was reporting that it did. I realized then that this ban could apply to me. Thus began my week of fear, with anxious calls to lawyers in New York City. I was born in Somalia, but I fled to Britain as a child because of war and famine in my native land. I have since acquired British citizenship through naturalization, and I am here in the United States on a valid multi-entry visa on my UK passport.
The Trump ban has unfairly targeted people like me, with valid visas or green cards, simply because of where we were born. For President Trump, it was the stroke of a pen on a piece of paper, but for many desperate refugees and citizens from those banned countries, his decision imposes huge personal costs, leaving many of us in limbo.
When the news came that British citizens like me would be affected, the UK government sought assurances from Washington, which they initially received. But last Monday the US Embassy in London put a statement on its website stating that the ban did include dual nationals. As if things weren’t confusing enough, later that day British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson received further assurances from US authorities, saying that the ban would make “no difference to any British passport holder irrespective of their country of birth or whether they hold another passport.” Even so, the British government was too slow in reacting to the ban. Prime Minister Theresa May initially refused to condemn it, but on Wednesday she said it was “divisive and wrong.”