Labour slam decision not to debate impact of US Muslim travel ban at Full Council meeting

Barnet's thirty-two Conservative councillors last night blocked a Labour emergency motion on the impact that the US travel ban would have on 15,000 Barnet residents who directly originate from the 7 Muslim-majority countries affected.

The emergency motion had been submitted to last night's Full Council meeting (31 January) by the Leader of the Barnet Labour Group following the US President's executive order issued a few days ago.

Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings said:   "It was extremely disheartening to watch the Conservatives vote against allowing a debate on this US travel ban on Muslims at last night's Full Council meeting.

"As elected councillors we have a community leadership role and a duty to call things like this ban out - especially when it has an impact on people living in Barnet.

"And it will have an impact, whether that's a direct practical impact on dual-nationals who live in Barnet and may need to travel from one of the affected countries to the US, or whether it's an indirect impact on their family members living in those countries.

"And regardless of whether the 15,000 Barnet residents who are from these countries are directly affected, this kind of divisive ban which targets people of a particular faith has a human cost in making people feel that they are 'other' to everyone else.

"We are against this US ban for the same reason that we are against the ban by a number of Muslim countries on Israeli passport-holders which affects Jewish people.

"Last night was an opportunity for all of us to show we are united in standing up for our residents by speaking out against this immoral, illegitimate and divisive act.

"The Barnet Conservatives seem to have completely failed to understand this, and I hope that next time they will do better."


Notes - a copy of Cllr Rawlings' motion follows:
Full Council, 31 January
Emergency motion in the name of Cllr Barry Rawlings
Ban on people from Muslim-majority countries entering the US

Council notes the recent Executive Order from the President of the United States introducing a temporary ban on people entering the US who are citizens of or who were born in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.

Council believes this policy targets people of the Muslim faith, an act that is immoral, illegitimate, may be unconstitutional and will have the perverse effect of increasing hostility towards the United States and the West.

Council therefore welcomes the statements from the UK Government and the Leader of the Opposition opposing this ban.
Council also welcomes the more recent news that this ban will not affect UK citizens travelling from one of the seven affected countries to the US even if they were born in one of those countries.

However, Council notes that the ban will affect UK citizens who have dual nationality with one of the seven countries and who are travelling from one of those countries to the US.

Council notes that according to the 2015 GLA population figures there are approximately 15,000 Barnet residents who directly originate from one of these seven countries: 8,000 from Iran, 4,000 from Somalia, up to 1,000 from Iraq, up to 1,000 from Sudan and up to 1,000 from Yemen.

Council asks officers to investigate how many Barnet residents are actually affected by this ban in practice, including those who may already have plans to travel to the US to visit family and friends, to conduct business or to work, or those just going there on holiday.

Council also asks LB Barnet to offer whatever assistance is appropriate to residents affected, including by liaising with Barnet's three MPs and sign-posting people to advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

Council further asks that an update on how this ban affects Barnet's residents is reported to the Policy & Resources Committee as soon as possible.

Finally, Council calls on the Leader of the Council and the Leader of the Opposition to jointly write a letter of protest to the US Ambassador setting out Council's opposition to this ban and the impact it could have on significant numbers of people living in Barnet.

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