Travel ban prompts Cana­di­ans to rally

Ex­ec­u­tive or­der puts chill on man’s plans to go to U.S. school

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DREA HILL

Hamoon Miri had planned to ring in his birth­day in Las Ve­gas next month.

But the Univer­sity of Saskatchewan chem­istry stu­dent said he no longer has any in­ten­tion of cel­e­brat­ing south of the bor­der.

Miri, who holds dual Cana­dian and Ira­nian cit­i­zen­ship, is among those tar­geted by a travel ban is­sued by United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. The ex­ec­u­tive or­der signed by Trump this week for­bids peo­ple with cit­i­zen­ship from the pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim coun­tries of Iran, Iraq, Su­dan, So­ma­lia, Syria, Ye­men and Libya from en­ter­ing the United States in the next three months.

It also bans refugees from Syria in­def­i­nitely, pend­ing a re­view of the ap­pli­ca­tion process.

The Cana­dian gov­ern­ment is­sued as­sur­ances late Satur­day that Cana­dian pass­port hold­ers will not be caught up in the Amer­i­can travel ban, but Miri has al­ready can­celled his plane tick­ets.

“Even if I’m al­lowed, it’s kind of point­less to go right now. I don’t feel, even if a Cana­dian has a right to go, it would be nice,” he said. “I think you could un­der­stand the frus­tra­tion. You feel dis­crim­i­nated.”

He’s also hav­ing sec­ond thoughts about trav­el­ling to the United States in the spring for an in­ter­view with an Amer­i­can univer­sity. Not only is he con­cerned about com­pli­ca­tions about travel to the in­ter­view, he’s wor­ried about what life will be like in the United States if he chooses to study there.

“I’d just rather — right now — stay in Canada, some­where where I’m com­fort­able and I feel more wel­come. Be­cause with all this un­cer­tainty that’s go­ing around, you will never know what’s go­ing to hap­pen next,” he said.

Mo­ham­mad Rafati, an Ira­nian cit­i­zen and re­cent grad­u­ate of the Univer­sity of Saskatchewan who re­cently moved to Van­cou­ver on a post­grad­u­ate work per­mit, was told Satur­day he could not board a flight from Van­cou­ver to Las Ve­gas. He was to present his univer­sity re­search at a con­fer­ence for en­gi­neers spe­cial­iz­ing in heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing.

Rafati said he had re­cently ob­tained a sin­gle en­try visa to en­ter the United States and was con­fused about why he was sud­denly not al­lowed into the coun­try. It wasn’t un­til he turned on the ra­dio and lis­tened to the news on the way home from the air­port that he re­al­ized what was hap­pen­ing.

Up­set about the sit­u­a­tion, he wrote about the or­deal on Face­book and was over­whelmed by peo­ple’s re­sponses.

“It was a bit of an un­pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence, but when I shared my story with friends there was just so much sup­port from my Cana­dian friends,” Rafati said. “Now I feel even more at home than be­fore so maybe that in­stance hap­pened to help me feel more happy about what I have right now and be­ing happy with where I live.”

Re­ac­tion to Trump’s travel ban has been swift and force­ful around the world.

Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau has said Canada will wel­come those who can’t en­ter the United States be­cause of Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der and Saskatchewan Pre­mier Brad Wall said the prov­ince is pre­pared to help the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in this re­spect.

Wall and other premiers — the ma­jor­ity of whom have pub­licly stated their will­ing­ness to help those stranded as a re­sult of the travel ban — had a con­fer­ence call with Trudeau Sun­day af­ter­noon to dis­cuss the is­sue.

“It’s en­cour­ag­ing: We have premiers rep­re­sent­ing the en­tire po­lit­i­cal spec­trum in ev­ery re­gion of the coun­try who have been very pub­lic in say­ing we can have a dif­fer­ent re­sponse to this is­sue in the coun­try and we should,” Wall said.

Saska­toon Mayor Char­lie Clark also is­sued a state­ment of sup­port for those who can no longer en­ter the United States.

“We will con­tinue to wel­come refugees and new Cana­di­ans to Saska­toon. I be­lieve our strength as a city lies in our ca­pac­ity to be an in­clu­sive, re­silient, and com­pas­sion­ate city for all,” Clark said in the re­lease, adding that he would sup­port Trudeau and Wall in their com­mit­ments to as­sist those af­fected by the ban.

Hamoon Miri

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