University of Windsor student Rojin Jazayeri has been told she won’t be allowed to enter the U.S. despite reassurances from Ottawa that Canadian permanent residents are exempt from Donald Trump’s travel ban.
Jazayeri, 25, is a Canadian permanent resident and Iranian citizen working to complete a joint law degree from the University of Windsor and University of Detroit Mercy in Michigan.
The federal government says it’s received a promise permanent resident can travel to the U.S. as normal, yet Jazayeri says she was told by officials at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency that she’ll be turned away at the border if she’s attempts to cross.
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Jazayeri has been forced to attend classes at her U.S. school via Skype, over fears she could be detained at the border. She is also worried she could run the risk of creating problems for future visa applications if she is denied entry.
“It was really hard to deal with. It’s disrupted all of my studies,” she told Global News. “It’s been unsettling and stressful.”
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The Iranian national has been living in Canada for five years. After working tirelessly to complete the first half of her law degree and spending close to $100,000, she worries she may not be able to complete her program.
“I’m certainly upset and frustrated but I’m not allowing it to get in the way of my professional life,” she said. “If I don’t deal with this smartly I definitely see myself going through an emotional breakdown.”
After Trump signed the executive order there was widespread chaos at borders and airports as few officials seemed clear on how to implement the order. The federal government moved to clear confusion around the ban, saying they’ve received assurances from U.S. officials that the ban won’t affect Canadian dual nationals or permanent residents.
A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said they would not comment on the decisions being made by U.S. border officials.
“The Government of Canada was informed by the White House that Canadian permanent residents travelling with a valid Canadian permanent resident card and passport from one of the seven affected countries will continue to have access to the United States and will need to continue meeting the U.S requirement to hold a valid U.S. visa,” the spokesperson said in an email Thursday night.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said they would not comment on this story and referred questions to the Department of Homeland Security, who have yet to respond.
However, there are still reports that Trump’s executive order is being applied inconsistently at the border and security check points. And despite assurances from the Canadian Immigration Minister, students and other Canadians say they won’t risk crossing the border.
Two law students at the University of Ottawa had to pull out of a course that requires travel to the U.S., said Michael Geist, a professor who was supervising the students.
“One of the students is of origin from one of the seven countries on Trump’s list and while they are a dual citizen, their families faced some issues at the border and decided it was too risky to go ahead,” Geist said. “This puts Canadian universities, researchers, supervisors and students in a difficult position…many will have to question whether they can participate in those programs.”
Both the University of Windsor and University of Ottawa have taken steps to help students affected by the executive order. U of O announced it would look at alternative enrollment, additional help from Canadian immigration officials and a tuition fee exemption to allow students to study at the same tuition rates as Canadian students.
Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada, which represents 97 universities across the country, said the immigration ban is already having a “real, immediate and profound” impact on schools.
“It’s having very real consequences,” Davidson said. “Universities across Canada are working with students that are affected, working with researchers that are affected and considering how best to respond.”
“The free flow of people and ideas is critically important to following global challenges,” he said. “People are working in real time with good will to address the impacts of an order that is not even a week old.
Jazayeri says that crossing the border always required additional screening and that it was never “easy to enter the U.S” prior to the Trump administration.
She said the University of Windsor has been very supportive and have retained an immigration lawyer to help her apply for Canadian citizenship.