Lawyer urges caution on trips to U.S. for people from targeted countries

A Victoria immigration lawyer is advising permanent residents or dual citizens living in Canada who are from the seven predominantly Muslim countries affected by U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban to avoid travelling to the United States.

David Aujla said even though Canada’s immigration minister gave assurances that Trump’s executive order would not apply to permanent residents or dual citizens living in Canada, the level of uncertainty around the scope of the ban is concerning.

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“[The Canadian government] has had assurances from the U.S. government that it will not apply to Canadians. Well, we do not quite trust that, because the ban seemed to be very comprehensive,” Aujla said.

The seven Muslim-majority countries affected by the 90-day ban are Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan.

Aujla said he has had inquiries from many clients from the seven countries asking if they could travel to the U.S. “My response is: ‘No, you hold tight until the situation is resolved,’ ” Aujla said.

Hissein Idriss is from Sudan and works as a software engineer in the Victoria tech industry.

He was set to attend a tech conference in Seattle in a few months, but said “because of this ban, most probably I won’t be able to go.”

He said his company will likely send another employee.

“I’m missing a lot on an opportunity to network with other people in the industry and it will affect my progress at work,” Idriss said.

“It’s kind of a shock and a shame.”

Aujla said the executive order was put in place without a consideration of the sweeping consequences. “[Trump] is totally inexperienced and that is what has caused the confusion, perplexity and mayhem around the world,” Aujla said.

In Canada, Vice News reported that a Canadian citizen from Somalia was forced to leave an Air France flight from Toronto to Paris because it would fly over U.S. air space.

However, an official with the Department of Homeland Security told Vice News that the executive order did not relate to U.S. air space. In the U.S., there has been confusion as to whether the executive order applies to U.S. green card holders and those with dual citizenship. Some green card holders were detained at airports across the U.S. during the confusion after the order took effect.

Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, said green card holders from the affected country will be allowed to travel, but could be subject to further security screening.

Iranian legal scholar Hossein Raeesi, whose vocal support of political prisoners and journalists forced him to flee to Canada, is scheduled to speak at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo next week as part of International Development Week.

Raeesi, who has dual Canadian and Iranian citizenship, travelled to Texas one day after the ban was in place. He said while he did not have any problems crossing the border, no one deserves to be subjected to additional security measures solely because of their faith.

Raeesi said many people around the world previously looked to the U.S. as a world leader in promoting democracy and liberty, but this blatant religious discrimination is a major step backward.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines freedom of movement, Raeesi said.

“Everyone has the right to move and travel around the world and find a place to live and escape torture and war,” he said.

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