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

I agree with the hon. Gentleman about what he says. These are definitely important issues. I do not want to sound like the old man of the sea, but I recall the debate on intervention in Libya in which I supported the then Government. A Back-Bench hon. Friend got up and said that they could not support the measure—and different people had different views on intervention—because there were many other terrible things happening in the world, so what were we going to do about them? Two wrongs do not make a right. This is, after all, supposed to be our closest ally and the people who are supposed to uphold human rights and the rule of law all around the world. It is hard to lecture other countries on respect for human rights if the President of the United States fails to do so.

I would like to mention a specific case that brings home the lunacy of the proposal. I read yesterday about the case of an 18-year-old called Mahmoud Hassan from Syria. He was recently accepted for a degree in engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The letter that MIT sent him described him as

“one of the most talented and promising students in one of the most competitive applicant pools in the history of the Institute.”

That young man from Syria who wants to study engineering at MIT said:

“Now Trump's orders will prevent me from going there. My dreams are basically ruined.”

I hope that on the question of students, as on the issue of green cards, the US Administration find a way of changing their position, but that brings home the reason why a blanket ban is nonsense. There are countless other examples, and doubtless other hon. Members will want to discuss them.

I would like to deal briefly with the issue of whether or not this is a Muslim ban. It clearly is. That was the President’s original intention. Rudolph Giuliani said on television yesterday—I paraphrase—“Donald Trump rang me up and asked how we could get a Muslim ban and make it work. I said, ‘Here’s a way we can make it happen.’” As for the Executive order itself, we all recognise the persecution, in particular, of Christians in the middle east. It is important to take special note of that and, indeed, that is already done in the way in which refugees are handled.

The Executive order singles out the possibility that minorities from predominantly Muslim countries will receive special treatment, which draws into the order the idea that this is being done on the basis of religious faith. It is a ban aimed at Muslims.