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US travel ban against people from 7 countries causes angst for some Canadians

FILE PHOTO - In this May 5, 2016, file photo Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Charleston, W. Va.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Steve Helber
January 29, 2017 - 11:30 AM

Canadians with roots in seven countries affected by an American travel ban were trying to make sense of how they would be affected, with one British Columbia student expressing relief she wouldn't have to cancel her travel plans after a U.S. suggestion it will be business as usual for Canadian passport holders.

Parmida Esmaeilpour, 20, booked travel to attend academic conferences in the U.S. in the coming weeks, in part to present a research paper on how to disrupt terrorist networks. She was dismayed at initial word from the American State Department that the travel ban would apply to dual citizens.

However, an email from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's director of communications Kate Purchase late Saturday indicated President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had provided assurances that Canadian passport holders, including dual citizens, would not be affected.

"This is great news! And certainly a step in the right direction, Esmaeilpour said in an email. "At the same time, I know that the Executive Order caused much dismay, heartbreak and humiliation — in just one day!"

"This is good news indeed, but it's been a long and emotional day for many of us," the political science grad student said.

Esmaeilpour was born in Iran, but her family moved to Canada when she was six, so she remembers little about her birthplace — one of the nations named in Trump's edict brought down Friday along with Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya. The ban is to remain in place for the next three months and the U.S. also said it would no longer accept Syrian refugees on an indefinite basis.

Esmaeilpour is excited about the prospect of mingling with other students and academic leaders at the American conferences. She's been focusing on terrorist networks and counter terrorism, and is to present a paper on the effect of electoral cycles on the intensity and frequency of terrorist attacks.

"The irony," she chuckled in a phone interview Saturday before Trudeau's office said the ban wouldn't apply to Canadian passport holders.

"I didn't think this would affect me because I'm a Canadian citizen."

A prominent Syrian refugee who has obtained refuge in Canada was more blunt about the American ban.

Tima Kurdi, the aunt of two-year-old Alan Kurdi, who became a symbol of the Syrian refugee crisis when his tiny lifeless body was photographed on a Turkish beach, called the U.S. ban on Syrian refugees inhumane.

She said the U.S. has a responsibility to support refugees after having contributed to conflicts and supplying weapons to the Middle East, and predicts 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 is proud that Canada has welcomed refugees and urged both individuals and government to do all they can to help more Syrians escape the war, as the U.S. appeared to no longer be an option.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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