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New Zealand's Prime Minister Says Trump's Muslim Travel Ban is "Not Racist"

Meanwhile, Bill English is still not sure how the controversial executive order will affect New Zealanders.

New Zealanders hoping to head to the States could be left stranded by the latest order signed in by President Donald Trump. There's still confusion over how Kiwis travelling to the US will be affected by Trump's hugely controversial ban on visitors from a number of Muslim-majority countries.

Trump made the executive order to "stop radical Islamic terrorists" entering the US, creating 90-day ban on citizens of Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen, a 120-day suspension of the US refugee programme, and an indefinite ban on entry of those fleeing war-torn Syria.


The executive order purportedly aims "to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States". Early estimates suggest some 134 million people may be affected by the new rules. The ruling has caused chaos at airports across the US and internationally. US green-card holders have been turned away from flights and airports in New York and LA clogged by protesters.

New Zealand is the last country in the Five Eyes security network—which includes the US, Canada, Australia and UK—without confirmation its citizens will be exempt from the ban.

The US consulate in Auckland told the New Zealand Herald the ban would be applied to those with dual nationality with New Zealand and any of the banned countries.

But the UK and Australia have both already been granted an exemption for their dual nationals, and New Zealand is hoping for the same. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson issued a statement saying the executive order only applied to individuals travelling from one of the seven named countries—not those travelling from the UK or with dual citizenship with the UK and one of the listed countries.

Speaking to the Herald, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said any New Zealanders needing advice regarding travel to the US should first contact the US Consulate General.

Prime Minister Bill English told reporters today the policy was unclear and the Government had asked for clarification from the US.


He said he expected New Zealanders who were also citizens of the targeted Muslim countries would not be affected by the ban, but he could not give any reassurances at this stage.

English has come under fire for his failure to roundly condemn the policy. Speaking to RNZ this morning, he said, "I don't believe it's a racist policy, but I'm not here to defend the policy".

Pressed further on whether policy discriminating against refugees was racist, English said: "No, it discriminates among them by which country they come from.

"I'm not trying to defend or explain the policy — that is the job of the American government."

Labour leader Andrew Little has labelled English's reaction "weak". "In his State of the Nation address this week, Labour leader Andrew Little called on New Zealand to "be a beacon to the world."

"Looking around the world right now—President Trump in the US, and the Far Right in Europe—holding on to a positive, inclusive vision is more important than ever," he said.