“I know you might feel like you’re being Trumped” said a border agent to Manpreet Kooner, A Canadian citizen by birth with Indian descent. Kooner was barred from entering the United States after being told she was an immigrant without a U.S. visa.
It was only a day ago when we flipped open the Toronto Star to Kooner’s story, a woman waiting six hours in which she was fingerprinted, photographed and questioned on her way to a Vermont spa (actions that weren’t taken with her two Caucasian friends) and left with no option but to return to Montreal.
This story hit home when a colleague shared her upcoming plans to travel to the U.S. with a group of girls, but after hearing the reports of several Canadians encountering issues at the border, she hesitated on whether she should even go anymore. Even with a Canadian passport, due to her ethnicity and appearance, the actions of one man’s policies have evoked a new fear for those planning to drive across the border.
Sasha Dyck, a nurse from Montreal was told they weren’t welcome the weekend of the Women’s March to take part. They were told to unlock their phones and were forced to wait to be fingerprinted and photographed one by one, a much different experience Dyck shared with U.S. officials in 2009 when he received a high five from a border guard en route to Barack Obama’s first inauguration.
Although each country has the sovereign right to control its own borders, when will we call out our neighbouring country out for their discriminatory practices?
Even though there’s no reason for border officials to question your religion or sexual orientation, it’s clear there’s nothing stopping them from doing so, and unfortunately, it’s not incredibly surprising following the events and rhetoric used south of the border. But according to the constitution, the questions must be posed without a discriminator intent, and they can’t block entry on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
But isn’t that what’s happening?
Sardar Ahmad, a Canadian citien and family doctor from Sarnia was held up for five hours for questioning that included which “tribe” he was part of in his birth country of Afghanistan and who his tribal chief was. Not only was Ahmad denied access but his Nexus card was also revoked.
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly had stated that visitors could be asked to hand over their social media passwords for security measures. But where is the line being drawn? Officers are now asking passengers to unlock their phones to gain access to their photos, documents and Facebook.
New York Times reported that in 2014, 4,444 cellphones were inspected a huge difference from the 23,000 searches made in 2016.
To see the negative implications now rippling down on the lives of Canadians due to one man’s decisions is infuriating. Now in fear of being red flagged and turned away or having a mark on your permanent record, Trump’s travel ban could lead to the result of many Canadians self-censoring their voice on social platforms and changing travel plans all together.
Are you planning on traveling to the U.S. soon? If so, are you facing any of these concerns? Comment and let us know!