Trump’s Immigration Ban and Its Impact on Canadians
On February 9, 2017, a United States federal appeals panel preserved the freeze on President Donald Trump’s divisive immigration order. The unanimous decision from three U.S. Court of Appeals judges for the 9th Circuit stepped in to provide the checks and balances that so many Americans had hoped for on Trump’s spontaneous and poorly implemented ban. President Trump, however, remains adamant that his policy is in the best interest of the United States and he and the United States Department of Justice are showing no signs of backing down.
So, just what does President Trump’s position on immigration and continued support of an immigration ban mean for Canada? Let’s take a look…
The Basics of President Trump’s Immigration Ban
On Friday, January 27th, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” The order, which was both impromptu and poorly planned, placed a ban on immigrants from seven countries from entering the United States but impacted a much larger group of individuals.
Who is Affected By Trump’s Immigration Ban?
According to the presidential order, the following individuals are affected in the following ways by the immigration ban:
- All people from Iran, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria are banned from entering the U.S for 90 days. This includes students, visitors, and workers.
- All refugees are banned from entering the U.S. for 120 days.
- Syrian refugees are banned from entering the U.S. indefinitely.
- The exception to the refugee ban is those belonging to minority religious groups (non-Muslim’s) and those who would experience undue hardship due to already being in transit to the United States at the time of the ban. Additionally, those refugees traveling in line with a pre-existing international agreement will be permitted entry.
- Citizens of Iran, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria currently in the U.S. on temporary visas will not be permitted to enter back into the U.S. if traveling at the time of the ban and those residing in the U.S. may have their temporary visas revoked.
- Citizens of Iran, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria with new immigrant visas that were based on family status or employment opportunities are also banned from entering the country.
- Individuals issued special immigrant visas and green card holders are exempt from the ban.
- Diplomats from the seven countries listed and dual nationals of those countries are not affected by the ban.
Why President Trump’s Travel Ban Was Frozen
In the U.S. governmental system, the judicial branch of government has the final word on the constitutionality of any decision or ruling of any branch of the U.S. government. This means that the executive order signed by President Trump banning immigrants from entering the country, which is being argued as unconstitutional, can be frozen by the federal courts while each “side” (the U.S. executive branch and the immigrants and refugees arguing that the ban is unconstitutional) make their arguments for or against the ban.
Federal judges ruled that President Trump’s travel ban was unconstitutional because it did not uphold the constitution’s protection against religious discrimination. This ruling resulted in a temporary freeze on the travel ban. The federal government then appealed the freeze on the travel ban. A hearing was held in Federal Appeals Court, and the three-judge panel of the Federal Appeals Court upheld the freeze on the travel ban.
The case may be appealed again and taken to the Supreme Court of the United States for a final ruling. At this time, the White House is saying that President Trump is “weighing his options” as for how to proceed with his policy on immigration and will not immediately be appealing the decision to the Supreme Court. So at this time, there are multiple options open: the case goes to the Supreme Court where the travel ban freeze is upheld, the case goes to the Supreme Court where the travel ban is reinstated, or President Trump reformulates his travel ban plan.
So, What Does the Travel Ban Mean For Canada?
Should the travel ban freeze be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, there is likely to be little impact on Canadians and those in Canada. Should President Trump institute a new policy on travel, there is no telling how that policy could impact anyone in Canada. What could impact Canadians and foreigners in Canada, however, is the reinstatement of the original Trump travel ban.
The original travel ban announcement sent alarm and confusion throughout Canadian populations as officials tried to find out how Canadian citizens and permanent residents would be affected by the policy. While officials were able to confirm that Canada’s citizens with dual nationality including citizenship of one of the seven banned countries were still permitted to travel to the U.S., there was still confusion at the actual ports of entry. Further, nobody knows how the ban will be enforced in the future if it is reinstated.
Immigrants to Canada May Be Kept from Family
If the ban is reinstated, temporary and permanent residents of Canada from the banned countries with family in the US will likely be unable to visit their family even if they have already received visas to the US. Family in the US may not want to travel to Canada either, or risk getting denied or delayed at the port of entry upon return to the US.
Canadian Government Officials Are Pressured to Lift Refugee Caps
With the ban on refugees to the U.S., there is increased pressure on Canadian officials to lift immigration caps on refugees. While Canada welcomes refugees with open arms regardless of their religious affiliation or their citizenship in one of the seven U.S. banned countries, there is a cap on the number of refugees the country can take. Currently, Canada has plans to permit the resettlement of 40,000 refugees in 2017, and pressure to increase that number could will create political problems for the Canadian government, stuck between groups who want to admit more refugees to make up for the American ban and those who want to limit the number of refugees after 2016’s record-setting year.
A Strained Relationship Between the U.S. and Canada
The relationship between the U.S. and Canada is a close one. In recent years, the relationship has become closer as more and more policies have become aligned between the two countries. Prime Minister Trudeau, however, has made no secret of his disdain for President Trump’s travel ban. In a somewhat passive aggressive jab at the U.S. president, Trudeau announced shortly after the travel ban enactment, that Canada would welcome all those seeking freedom from persecution regardless of their faith. This starkly different personal view on offering safety to all of those seeking asylum undoubtedly causes a strain on the previously amicable relationship between the two countries.
The Best Outcome for All Involved
It remains uncertain as to how a revamped immigration policy from President Trump could impact Canada, but at this time, it seems that the best outcome for all involved would be for the Supreme Court to uphold the freeze on President Trump’s travel ban. The countries on the list are not the source of any terrorists against the US to date and most of the people affected by the ban had already been approved for travel to the US.