More than a dozen Barbadians have fallen prey to United States president Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart made the revelation in Guyana today where he is attending the 28th Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Intersessional Summit, saying he had received word that 19 Barbadians were detained in the US.
“In the meeting this morning, the Foreign Minister [Maxine McClean] showed me a text message or an email message she had just received saying that 19 Barbadians had been identified in this whole process,” Stuart told journalists on the sidelines of the two-day regional meeting.
He said Government would be investigating the reports even as he expressed surprise that Barbadians and other Caribbean nationals were being rounded up by American authorities in keeping with Trump’s January 27 order, which was intended to keep terrorists out of the US.
“We did not see ourselves as threatened,” said a seemingly surprised Stuart, adding that regional leaders would now be forced to address the issue during their Georgetown deliberations.
The US travel ban has been widely criticized for its sloppy implementation, which came with virtually no warning and for its target of seven Muslim countries, namely, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
It was not immediately clear whether the 19 Barbadian detainees were Muslims.
And when contacted tonight the secretary of the Barbados Muslim Association (BMA) Suleiman Bulbulia told Barbados TODAY he was unaware of the detentions announced by Stuart.
“I am not aware of it, this is the first time I’m hearing this news and I really can’t comment because I have no information on it,” he said when contacted by telephone tonight.
However, immediately following Trump’s announcement of the controversial executive order banning travel to the US by citizens of the seven predominantly Muslim countries, Bulbulia had said he anticipated an even tougher time for local Muslims looking to travel to the US.
“We have a good relationship with the US embassy here, we have had that for a number of years, we have highlighted our concerns to them about upstanding people in our community being unable to access visas and all cases they say that they don’t give reasons for visa denials or revocations but that persons are free to reapply. We believe that in light of what is happening this situation is going to get even worse and drive more people to not want to travel there,” Bulbulia had stated then.
Trump’s ban has triggered worldwide outrage as well as protests in US and chaos in the first days of its implementation as people arriving at US airports from targeted countries were detained while others were immediately sent back home.
On February 4, Federal judge James Robart halted the travel ban, describing the order as “outrageous”, following a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Washington state and Minnesota.
Three days later his decision was unanimously upheld by three federal appeals judges, with Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke warning that the order may extend to this region.
Clarke, the representative for the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, therefore urged Caribbean countries to organize a strong lobby to resist the move.
“We know that in the Caribbean region there is a very healthy Muslim population from Guyana, to Trinidad, to Jamaica, across the board; and so, we have to make sure we come together,” she said.
At a news conference today, Trump said he would announce a new executive order on immigration next week.