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  • A group of Muslims take part in a rally in front of Trump Tower December 20, 2015 in New York.

    A group of Muslims take part in a rally in front of Trump Tower December 20, 2015 in New York. | Photo: AFP

Published 28 January 2017

Trump's Muslim ban was sure worthy of anger, but so were these other moves that largely slipped under the radar.

Worldwide outrage has followed U.S. President Donald Trump's move to impose a blanket ban on all refugees from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

How to Show Solidarity in the Age of Trump

While the focus on the religion of the refugees and citizens of those seven Muslim-majority countries is unprecedented – especially considering Trump said he would prioritize Christians – severe limitations of entry based on nationality are nothing new.

The past few years have seen record numbers of internally displaced people, refugees and migrants, and the reaction from national governments has been just as eye-opening.

A few painful highlights of many other cases that deserve similar outrage from their nationals:


Australia's former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who implemented draconian asylum laws | Source: Reuters

The Australian government announced last October that it would introduce a blanket lifetime ban on all refugees who arrive in the country by boat. The law, retroactive to 2013, would block boat arrivals from gaining any type of entry visa into the country including humanitarian, business or tourist visas, even if they had already been deemed a refugee.

The law will mean that around 1,300 people who are currently in detention on the islands of Nauru and Manus off Australia's northwest coast will never be able to enter Australia. The majority of those held in the offshore camps would qualify for asylum status under existing laws.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbill will speak with U.S. President Donald Trump this weekend to discuss repatriating those refugees to the U.S., as agreed upon with his predecessor Barack Obama.


Syrian refugees climb under rolls of razor wire into Hungary at the border with Serbia | Source: Reuters

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban introduced a bill to parliament designed to stop future migrant quotas being imposed on the country by the European Union. Parliament narrowly voted it down in November thanks to a boycott by the far-right Jobbik party, but the body is already fighting an EU relocation scheme which set quotas for each EU country to host a share of the migrants for two years. Along with Slovakia, Budapest has launched a court challenge against that plan.

The Jobbik party held out a lifeline to Orban by saying it would throw its support behind the ban if he scrapped a separate scheme allowing foreigners to buy residency rights.

Last October, Orban held a referendum in which more than three million Hungarians, an overwhelming majority of those who voted, rejected EU quotas stipulating how many migrants member states must accept.


Tens of thousands of Central American migrants cross Mexico toward the U.S. yearly in search of a better life | Source: Reuters

The number of unaccompanied Central American child migrants and refugees detained in Mexico doubled between 2014 and 2015, and 2016 is believed to have recorded soaring statistics again, prompting calls for reforms to the country's controversial U.S.-backed southern border policing program.

In the first seven months of this year, 10,000 more unaccompanied children were detained, putting 2016 on track to hit similarly high numbers by the end of the year. The vast majority – nearly 98 percent – are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, also known as Central America's Northern Triangle. The total number of migrants detained is also, in total, much higher if children traveling with their families are also taken into account.

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission called for Mexico to "revise" the border security policy Plan Frontera Sur, which translates to Southern Border Plan. Mexico launched the plan in July 2014 at the height of the so-called child migrant crisis in the U.S. to crack down on the waves of undocumented Central American migrants crossing Mexico's historically porous southern border en route to the United States.

Gulf State

Despite its proximity to Syria, Saudi Arabia and its fellow Gulf states have not taken a single refugee | Source: Reuters

Pressure mounted on Saudi Arabia last year to take Syrian refugees after it was revealed that the Middle Eastern country had 100,000 air-conditioned tents used five days each year by Hajj pilgrims that could house more than 3 million people, sitting empty.

Trump's Inauguration

Despite its proximity to Syria, Saudi Arabia and its fellow Gulf states have not taken a single refugee.

None of the six states in the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar – has signed the U.N. convention on refugees, which has governed international law on asylum since World War II.

The Gulf states say they have taken in hundreds of thousands of Syrians since the civil war began – just not as refugees.

The UNHCR acknowledge that around 500,000 Syrians are living in Saudi Arabia, but added that it is not known when they arrived in the affluent country.


A refugee holds a placard at the Calais camp in France, Sept. 19, 2015 | Source: Reuters

While the European Union was scrambling to distribute refugees across the continent, and the Calais camps near the English Channel maintained squalid conditions, Britain agreed last year to accept a mere 20,000 Syrian refugees over a five-year period – compared to the over one million refugees Germany accepted in 2015.

The plan was an upgrade from a previous program that settled 5,000 refugees from Syria since its civil war began and included unaccompanied minors separately, though the number was also expected to be low. Even that figure, though, will likely not be reached, according to a home affairs report that found that resources mobilized to handle the extra refugees were very low.

The total number of people that claimed asylum in the same period stands at tens of thousands.

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