• US President Donald Trump has vowed to exempt Australians with dual nationality from his temporary visa for now. (PETE MAROVICH, AAP)
President Trump has exempted Australians with dual nationality from the US travel ban. But can the hurt felt by many Australians on dual citizenship, at the subject of the controversy surrounding the ban, be undone?
By
Alana Schetzer

31 Jan 2017 - 12:34 PM  UPDATED 31 Jan 2017 - 2:03 PM

Australian PM, Malcolm Turnbull, has just announced that US President Donald Trump has vowed to exempt Australians with dual nationality from his temporary visa plan.

So, for now, Australian permanent residents who hold dual citizenships with any of the seven listed Muslim-majority countries - Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen - may still be able to travel to the US, if Trump stays true to Turnbull’s word.

But can the hurt felt by many Australians on dual citizenship, at the centre of the controversy surrounding the ban, be undone by an Aussie exemption?

Engineer, author and speaker Yassmin Abdel-Magied, who was born in Sudan and grew up in Perth, said she feels “indignant rage and frustration” at Trump’s decision, adding that it has left her feeling “exposed”.

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The high-profile Muslim and women’s rights advocate is due to deliver a keynote address at a multicultural conference in the US in March, but given the uncertainty surrounding the ban and Australian exemption, the future is murky.

“We’re now at a stage when things can be justified against minority groups, people from certain countries, and on the basis of what? Essentially nothing. It doesn’t make any logical sense and it’s scary,” says Abdel-Magied.

Abdel-Magied added that the fact that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Treasurer Scott Morrison have either spoken out in favour of the ban, or refused to condemn it, has left her and many others feeling vulnerable.

“The silence from the government is even more terrifying because what it’s saying to me is that it’s very possible that this could happen in Australia,” she says.

Australian residents from these seven countries who are not yet Australian citizens are unlikely to fall under the travel ban exemption.

“When you create that divide and start to make policies around that divide, all sorts of things can be justified."

The US refugee program has also been suspended for 120 days, Trump says, to strengthen the borders of America.

The purpose of the ban, Abdel-Magied believes, is to intensify the “us versus them” mentality that has been growing over the past few years.

“When you create that divide and start to make policies around that divide, all sorts of things can be justified. Because if you have a “them”, all sorts of things can be justified in order to protect “us”.

“If this is going to continue, what are we going to do?”

Abdel-Magied says we need to break the cycle of hatred and discrimination through acts of kindness and understanding.

“The silence from the government is even more terrifying because what it’s saying to me is that it’s very possible that this could happen in Australia."

Despite the high-profile protests against the ban happening across the US, there are plenty of supporters of the ban, who argue that the decision will make Americans safer. A recent survey revealed that about half of all Americans support banning people from “terror-prone countries”.

Regardless of the debate behind the ban, the fact remains that the travel ban still stands as current US policy.

Abdel-Magied is not the only high-profile Australian who has been caught up in the chaos and uncertainty over who can now enter the US for the next 90 days. Others impacted include:

Thon Maker - NBA basketballer

Sudan-born Maker and his family moved to Australia in 2002. He now lives in the US, where he plays with the Milwaukee Bucks as a rookie center. Maker travels on an Australian passport but is a dual citizen.

Sam Dastyari - New South Wales senator

A question mark hangs over Iranian-born Dastyari, who says he withdrew from his Iraqi citizenship prior to entering parliament in 2013, but is unclear whether he would still be allowed in the US following the ban.

Mario Shabow - soccer player with Sydney Western Warriors

Shabow was born in Iraq and was just six-years old when he and his family fled to Australia in 2004. Today, Shabow is an attacking midfielder for the Sydney Western Warriors and was selected to play in the Australian Under-20s National Football Team.

Osamah Sami - actor, writer and comedian

Sami is an award-winning entertainer who was born in Iran. His book, Good Muslim Boy, was published by Hardie Grant and he wrote and acted in the rom-com, Ali’s Wedding, the script of which was nominated for the 2016 AWGIE Awards.

At the time of writing, the Federal Court for the Eastern District of New York issued a temporary emergency stay halting deportations, although there are reports that this order is being ignored by some border security agents.

The decision went into effect immediately and turned international airports into scenes of chaos, as hundreds of people across the world were either detained in airports, forced to turn back immediately if they had just arrived in the US, and in some cases, were not allowed to board a plane to the US at all.

A permanent court decision is expected to be made soon.

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