The Trudeau government has received assurances that Canadian passport holders will not be caught up in an American travel ban that has barred citizens of seven countries from entering the United States.
An email from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s office late Saturday said that the U.S. has given assurances that Canadians with dual citizenship will not be turned away at the border.
“We have been assured that Canadian citizens travelling on Canadian passports will be dealt with in the usual process,” said the email from Kate Purchase, Trudeau’s director of communications.
Earlier the U.S. State Department said Canadians with dual citizenship from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya would be denied entry for the next three months along with citizens from those countries.
But Purchase’s email said Trudeau’s National Security Adviser Daniel Jean and other officials were in contact with their American counterparts, including Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
“NSA Flynn confirmed that holders of Canadian passports, including dual citizens, will not be affected by the ban,” Purchase said.
The federal government has been low key in its response to the American ban. Trudeau offered a tweet early Saturday that Canada would welcome those who couldn’t enter the U.S.
“To those fleeing persecution, terror (and) war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith,” read Trudeau’s tweet.
He followed it up by tweeting a photo of himself greeting a young Syrian refugee.
His office said later Saturday that Trudeau was “looking forward to discussing the success of Canada’s immigration and refugee policies” with U.S. President Donald Trump when they next speak.
Trump’s executive order also banned refugees from Syria indefinitely, pending a review of the application process.
Bijan Ahmadi, president of the Iranian Canadian Congress, said he’s outraged by the new policy.
“It’s unacceptable. It’s very unreasonable,” he said in an interview earlier Saturday before the situation regarding dual citizens was clarified. “It’s very discriminatory to target people based on their race, their religion, the country of their origin and the country of their birth. And the community has that same outrage.”
“Everybody’s nervous, everybody of Somali origin and Muslim origin,” said Osman Ali, the Toronto-based director of the Somali Canadian Association of Etobicoke. “The community feels that it’s a way of targeting the Muslim community, the African community and the black Muslim community.”
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Tima Kurdi, the aunt of two-year-old Alan Kurdi, who became a symbol of the Syrian refugee crisis when his lifeless body was photographed on a Turkish beach, is calling the U.S. ban on Syrian refugees inhumane.
“Imagine those children who have one hope, and have been waiting for years to get help. Now imagine them, the next thing you’re going to see is they’re dying,” she said in an interview from her home in B.C.
She said the U.S. has a responsibility to support refugees after having contributed to conflicts and supplying weapons to the Middle East, and this ban will only incite more fear within American borders.
“As a president, you don’t teach your people to fear. Teach them how to be strong, teach them how to love so we don’t create more hate,” she said.
Kurdi, who lives in British Columbia, said she’s proud that Canada has welcomed refugees and urged both individuals and the government to do everything they can to help more Syrians escape the war as the U.S. is no longer an option.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who has been a vocal critic of Trudeau’s environmental and health-care policies, offered his support to the federal government in the face of Trump’s ban.
“Sask has welcomed approx 2000 refugees this past year, Wall posted on Twitter Saturday. “We stand ready to assist fed gov’t re: anyone stranded by the US ban.”
An American law enforcement official told The Associated Press there was an exemption for foreigners whose entry is in the U.S. national interest, but it was not immediately clear how that exemption might be applied.
WestJet and Air Canada said they were waiving cancellation fees for people who hold passports from the affected countries. Air Canada said it expected that only a small handful of its passengers would be affected.