First Would-be Mideast Immigrants Grounded Before Flight to U.S. Following Trump's Ban

Iraqi, Yemeni passengers barred from Egyptian flight to New York; all six held valid visas but were kept off an EgyptianAir flight.

A passenger reads a newspaper at a departure hall of London's Heathrow terminal as an EgyptAir plane taxis on the tarmac of the airport, London, U.K., May 20, 2016.
Yannis Behrakis, Reuters

Five Iraqi passengers and one Yemeni were barred from boarding an EgyptAir flight from Cairo to New York on Saturday following President Donald Trump's ban on the entry of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, sources at Cairo airport said.

U.S. lawmaker Jim Cooper claimed that two of the Iraqis had "helped U.S. troops survive during the war.

Trump on Friday put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries, saying the moves would help protect Americans from terrorist attacks. 

The six passengers, bound for John F. Kennedy International Airport, were prevented from boarding EgyptAir Flight 985 at Cairo airport despite holding valid immigration visas, the sources said. 

The five Iraqis had arrived in transit from Irbil and were being held at the airport until they could be re-boarded on flights back to Iraq, whereas the Yemeni passenger had arrived at the airport from elsewhere in Cairo, they added. 

A UN refugee agency spokesman said it was not yet known whether the six travelers had been granted visas earlier under the U.S. refugee program. 

Trump on Friday put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries, saying the moves would help protect Americans from terrorist attacks.

In the most sweeping use of his presidential powers since taking office a week ago, Trump paused the entry of travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days, saying his administration needed time to develop more stringent screening processes for refugees, immigrants and visitors.

"I'm establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. Don't want them here," Trump said earlier on Friday at the Pentagon.