Changes in Us Immigration Policy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:01 pm on 30th January 2017.

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Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Labour, Doncaster North 6:01 pm, 30th January 2017

The hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon will perhaps say something personal about that, but I say to the hon. Gentleman—this is very important, because President Trump is trying to sow confusion on this issue—that President Obama’s action was about the visa waiver scheme in relation to those countries. It was most emphatically not about a blanket ban on individuals from those countries coming to the US.

The countries selected for the ban are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen. There is no question but that those countries, in their different ways, are extremely dangerous places, but does a blanket ban on people from those countries make any sense? In my view, it does not. If we read the Executive order—it is worth reading it, along with the annotations to it—we see that it falls apart at the first hurdle. Section 1 of the order, right up at the front, states the rationale for the President’s proposals. What does it cite? It cites the 9/11 attacks on America—absolutely appalling events that shocked us all—but none of the 9/11 attackers came from the countries on which the ban has been imposed. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others are not on the list, so the very justification offered in the Executive order frankly falls apart.

Nobody is against the proper vetting of people from those countries—the strongest security checks—but a blanket ban cannot be the answer. I do not think I can do better than to read the words of Chancellor Merkel, who said earlier:

“The necessary and decisive fight against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain belief—in this case people of Muslim belief or people from a certain country. That way of thinking is against my interpretation of the basic tenets of international refugee support and co-operation.”

Chancellor Merkel put it incredibly well. As my right hon. Friend Keith Vaz said, we have seen the dreadful results of this blanket ban playing out over the past few days.