Americans working in Iraq warn of blowback from travel ban

Travel ban blowback

BAGHDAD -- Working in Iraq has always been a risky prospect, especially for U.S. citizens.

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Thomas Donovan CBS News

But lawyer Thomas Donovan says the new immigration ban just made it more dangerous.

“This ban makes it more difficult for us to live, and to work, and to gain the trust of the Iraqi people that we need to continue doing our jobs,” Donovan said.

He has been working in the energy sector here for the past ten years, and has seen the worst of the civil unrest that followed the war.

But he said joining forces with the Iraqis to fight ISIS had improved relations.

Until the travel ban sent that into a tailspin.

Iraqis fighting ISIS respond to ban on entering U.S.

“For those Iraqis who simply don’t understand it and see it as a Muslim ban, all that it becomes is more ammunition to use and more reason to not trust the United States and the people of the United States that work here,” he said.

Some companies with American employees aren’t taking any chances. CBS News has learned one business has already pulled U.S. staff out of Baghdad.

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Hanan Fatlawi   CBS News

The Iraqi parliament has voted unanimously to retaliate, though it’s not clear what they’ll do.

“It’s a bad message to Iraqis,” said lawmaker Hanan Fatlawi, who also called the travel ban “insulting.”

And she said it plays right into the hands of ISIS.

“This is a negative message to other Muslims to be extremists. If you treat someone in a bad way you encourage him to be bad,” she said.

And Donovan says that makes Americans more vulnerable.

“Both sides need to have certainty and transparency in their dealings towards one and other and this travel ban threw out any certainty,” he said.

Widespread anti-American demonstrations are expected to take place in Baghdad and across the country on Friday, with calls to denounce the ban and demand Americans be expelled.