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Australian tech industry lashes out at Trump’s new visa rules, while Australia supports ban

To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban… this is about terror and keeping our country safe: Trump, upon changing visa rules

Sydney, January 30: Leading Australian technology companies are livid after US President Donald Trump recently announced changes to visa laws.

They are petitioning with the Australian government to act.

The changes could see workers affected across the sector, with industry group TechSydney saying many employees are dual-nationals who are required to visit and work in the US as part of their duties, Xinhua news agency reported.

Hichame Assi, HotelsCombined chief executive, and also a dual national British-Syrian who moved to Australia in 2008, is one of those affected, and can no longer travel to the US for the next 90 days due to the new rules.

“We employ people of all nationalities, including dual-nationality Australians,” Assi said in a statement on Monday.

“These developments in the US are not only disruptive to our business and our people, they’re very troubling and are creating more tension at a time when empathy is required,” Assi said.

The new visa rules will not result in any changes to citizens solely of Australia, and 36 other countries that are currently allied with the US.

While many countries lambasted the ban, Muslim-majority nations not on the blacklist have remained largely silent.

Trump on Friday signed an executive order to restrict immigration for 90 days from countries that he said are “compromised by terrorism.” A White House official later named the restricted countries as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

The order also suspended the admission of all refugees for 120 days. The order bans entry of those fleeing from war-torn Syria indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the temporary prohibition of entry into US for migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world has led to confusion, angst and a wave of protests across the country.

World leaders and prominent figures blasted Trump’s travel ban as divisive, illegal, insulting and discriminatory.

Australia, which has implemented hardline policies against refugees, was one of the few nations to voice support for the ban.

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull became one of the few leaders to openly show support for the ban.

“It is vital that every nation is able to control who comes across its borders,” he said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May put out a statement saying her government did “not agree” with it, but said immigration was “a matter for the government of the US.”

Closer to home, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that refugees fleeing persecution, terror and war were welcome in Canada.

Pakistan, whose visa seekers have been put on “extreme vetting” under US President Donald Trump’s new administration, on Monday said the new policy will affect international unity against terrorism.

Raucous protests erupted at US airport terminals from coast to coast, across more than 30 American airports. Tens of thousands of people protested outside the gates of the White House, in Boston’s Copley Square and in New York’s Battery Park, with its view over the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Post reported.

Trump issued a statement late Sunday that offered little clarity, even as he defended his executive order as necessary to protect the United States from terrorism.

“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting,” Trump said in the statement. “This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”

Some Republicans grew increasingly alarmed by the backlash to the order.

“This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country,” Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said. ”

That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”

Meanwhile, a federal judge in New York temporarily blocked deportations nationwide. Her ruling was followed by similar decisions by federal judges in California, Virginia, Seattle and Boston.

Vir Rajendra with agencies

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