Canadian citizens who are also nationals of countries affected by Donald Trump’s travel ban can travel as normal, US Customs and Border Protection has confirmed.
Trump signed the executive order, barring anyone with citizenship of seven Muslim-majority countries from the US for 90 days.
Those countries are Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, and Iraq.
While Justin Trudeau has said he had assurances from the White House that Canada’s dual citizens are not subject to the ban, this is the first official word from the US on the issue.
In a release issued on Tuesday, the US CBP provided guidance and statistics relating to their actions since Trump signed the executive order.
The release does say the ban applies to dual citizens – however, they will be processed according to the passport they travel on.
“Travellers are being treated according to the travel document they present,” reads the release. “For example, if they present a Canadian passport, that is how they are processed for entry.”
With regard to green card holders – also known as US Legal Permanent Residents – their entry was in the national interest, said the release.
“Accordingly, absent significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.”
So far, as of 3 pm on January 30, said the release, 1,059 Legal Permanent Residents had been permitted entry, with only two being denied entry.
One of those, said the release, had a criminal record. The other withdrew his request to enter the US and chose to return to Canada.
The release does mention some visas, noting that F1, J1 or M1 visas are temporarily suspended due to Trump’s executive order.
College students who hold those visas and were in the US at the time the executive order was signed are not affected, said the release.
“However, individuals who were out of the country at the time of the signing, or who travel out of the country and attempt to return will not be allowed to return at this time,” it said.
“The Department is evaluating whether those who are precluded from returning as a result of the Executive Order will be considered to have maintained their status as F1 or M1 students.”
The release notes that so far, no “aliens with special immigrant visas” have been denied entry to the US.
With regard to Canadian permanent residents, the Canadian Immigration Minister said previously he had been assured they would be able to travel as normal.
The CIC re-affirmed this position on Tuesday at the request of Daily Hive, saying:
“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 Canadian government continues to work with the US government during the ongoing implementation of this Executive Order.”
However, this has not been confirmed by the US and no mention was made of Canadian permanent residents in the US CBP release.
In addition, no mention was made of other visas, for example the H-1B visa, which allows US companies to hire Canadians and other workers from overseas.
According to the US CBP statistics provided in the release, since the executive order was signed, there have been 721 recommended denials of boarding.
“The Department of Homeland Security will continue to enforce all of President Trump’s Executive Orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people,” said the release.
“President Trump’s Executive Order affects a minor portion of international travellers, and is a first step towards reestablishing control over America’s borders and national security.”
— Homeland Security (@DHSgov) January 31, 2017
Trump’s executive order also bans Syrian refugees indefinitely and halts the admission of any refugees from anywhere in the world for 120 days.
The president has said that for any Syrians applying for refugee status in the future, the priority would be given to Christians over Muslims.
Trump has also ordered more “extreme vetting” of Muslims travelling to America and argues the ban will make the US safer, and protect people from terrorism.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly described the US immigration system as “most generous in the world.”
But he said, the US system was in dire need of review over the period of the temporary ban to ensure the safety of Americans.
“It is important to understand there are terrorists and other bad actors who are seeking to infiltrate our homeland every single day,” said Kelly. “By preventing terrorists from entering our country, we can stop terror attacks striking the homeland. We cannot gamble with American lives.”
It should be noted that research by the Cato Institute shows that between 1975 and 2015, no Americans died on US soil due to a terror attack by anyone from the banned countries. And in those whole four decades, only 17 people from those countries – none from Libya or Syria – have been convicted of attempting or carrying out terrorist attacks on US soil.
As well, the Cato Institute significantly debunked a list of terror-related convictions released by Senator Jeff Sessions, now nominated to take over as Trump’s Attorney-General. The list claimed that since 9/11, there have been 580 terror-related convictions. However, the Cato Institute found 241 of those were not actually for terrorism offences.
Only 40 of those convictions were for foreigners planning an attack on US soil; 180 were for seeking to join or support a terrorist group overseas or to commit an attack overseas. And 92 of the conviction were were for US citizens.
The new US travel ban has left many Canadian travellers in limbo, unsure as to whether they can enter the US, among them Murtadha Al-Tameemi, whose story we told previously.
Al-Tameemi, 24, who is an Iraqi citizen and a Canadian permanent resident, is a software engineer for Facebook and lives in Seattle, on a H-1B temporary work visa.
He studied at UBC and his family live in Vancouver, but while visiting them last week, he had to rush back to the US ahead of the executive order.
Now he has no idea whether he will be able to re-enter the States if he comes to Canada to see his family.
“I don’t even know what I’m going to do,” said Al-Tameemi previously. “I have to choose, either being with my family, or keeping my job.”
Al-Tameemi told Daily Hive that a CBP border agent had told him Canadian permanent residents like him are not exempt from the travel ban.
As well, Al-Tameemi said, the border agent told him that anyone from one of the countries affected by the ban, who arrives at the border with a visa, is having their visa cancelled.
Reacting the the release, Al-Tameemi told Daily Hive of his frustration with the US government’s justification for the travel ban.
“This whole thing is being advertised as such a necessary measure for national security and fighting terrorism, without any regard to how it impacts real people,” he said. “The students that cannot go back to school; the workers that cannot return to their jobs; the parents that cannot be with their kids; and so many other scenarios of people affected.”
He also questioned the merits of allowing people in, only if it was in the national interest.
“They keep saying we will evaluate on a case-by-case basis and only allow people if it’s in the national interest; but that’s so vague and subjective,” he said. “Is it against the national interest to disagree with this executive order? Does one need to be a Trump supporter to qualify for this ‘national interest’ requirement?”
Daily Hive has contacted the US Customs and Border Protection and the US Department of Homeland Security for clarification, but we are yet to receive a response.
Have you had problems at the Canada-US border due to Trump’s travel ban? We want to tell your story. Contact us at [email protected].