Confusion about Muslim ban stokes fears in Edmonton

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A supporter, foreground, of President Donald Trump yells as demonstrators chant at JFK on Monday. The ripple effects of new immigration restrictions are being felt as far away as Edmonton.A supporter, foreground, of President Donald Trump yells as demonstrators chant at JFK on Monday. The ripple effects of new immigration restrictions are being felt as far away as Edmonton
Ahmed Abdulkadir’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing.
On the other end it’s been people stopped at the United States border, people with thwarted travel plans, people totally confused about how the new ban even worked.
As the executive director of the Ogaden Somali Community of Alberta, Abdulkadir is suddenly the leader of a community that’s confused, since new American immigration travel restrictions were announced, and since those restrictions disproportionately target countries with majority-Muslim populations.
“To be honest with this and the other event that happened in Quebec City, the community is in fear,” he said.
On Jan. 27, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order that effectively stopped people from Iran, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq—from entering America for 90 days. Syrian refugees have been banned indefinitely.
But what this means, on the ground, is unclear.
At first many thought even dual citizens and green card holders would be stopped at the border. Now, that doesn’t seem to be the case but the rules have been inconsistently applied, Abdulkadir said.
“I did not sleep all night, trying to figure out what’s going on.”
And he’s not alone.
“We’re confused, the immigration officers are confused, the airline employees are confused,” said Raj Sharma, a Calgary lawyer who specializes in immigration issues.
“It’s hard to give advice, when it seems like even the Trump administration is confused,” he said.
“Given how they’ve rolled this out, I can’t in good conscience advise Canadian dual nationals to travel wily nilly,” he said. “The only advice you can give is to wait and see.”
But this is not just about travel problems, said Erick Ambtman, executive director of the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers.
“It’s the stigma that’s goes with the leader of the free world saying you’re too dangerous to be let into the country, you can’t come in,” he said.
“Our staff and clients and students are really upset that they’re being identified in this way. It’s really devastating. This is a really dark, dark day.

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