A number of constituents have been in contact with Theresa Villiers MP regarding the Executive Order signed by Donald Trump which excludes the nationals of seven countries and suspends the US’s Syrian refugee programme. In response, Ms Villiers has published the following statement.
“I appreciate that many people feel strongly about this issue and are understandably concerned about the immigration policy recently introduced by Donald Trump. That is reflected in the substantial number of signatures which have been added to the petition on the House of Commons website and the many emails I have received.
In my view, the measures introduced by President Trump are unjustified and I hope that he and his government will think again and change them. Blanket bans covering a whole nationality are divisive and can be counter-productive. In Parliament, I have highlighted concerns regarding the use of nationality bans by other countries. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have made it clear that Mr Trump’s approach is not one that the UK Government would consider.
The Government has held conversations with the US Government, interceding on behalf of UK nationals and UK passport holders. As a result, important protections have been secured. Assurances have been received that all British passport holders remain welcome to travel to the US, irrespective of their country of birth or whether they hold another passport. The US has also reaffirmed its strong commitment to the expeditious processing of people travelling from the UK.
Whilst I have real concerns about Mr Trump's controversial Executive Order, I believe that it would be wrong to disengage with the US Government in such a way as to do material damage to the interests of British citizens. It is in our national interest to continue to work with and engage with the US Administration. For instance, this is important if we are to make our points on protecting the interests of UK nationals, as well as conveying our views about the global unease that this measure has caused.
Moreover, it is important not to understate the importance of this country’s alliance with the United States. On defence, intelligence and security, we probably work more closely together than any other two countries in the world. Whilst it is likely that there will be a range of issues on which the approach taken by Mr Trump is controversial and very different from measures which we would be prepared to support in our own country, he has been elected as head of state of one of our closest and most important allies. A succession of US Presidents have been given the honour of a state visit to the United Kingdom. It was therefore to be expected that such an invitation would be issued to the new President. It is also worth acknowledging that the situation could have altered significantly by the time the state visit is due to take place. I am therefore not convinced we should rush to judgement by cancelling the visit and withdrawing the invitation.”