With U.S. travel ban trumped, Canadian airlines have resumed regular operations — for now
Those hoping to travel to U.S. should do so before White House appeals judge's restraining order, say some
As U.S. President Donald Trump gets set to challenge a "ridiculous" move by a "so-called judge" temporarily halting an executive order on travel into the country, some of Canada's major airlines say they're returning to business as it was prior to the ban.
Air Canada, WestJet and Porter Airlines said Saturday that they had been in contact with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and would revert to usual operations, complying with the ruling of U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle. On Friday, Robart ordered a halt "on a nationwide basis" to the enforcement of Trump's controversial order, which barred travel to the U.S. by citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
The executive order, signed just over one week ago, halted the processing of all Syrian refugees and barred entry for at least 90 days on anyone travelling from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia. But Robart's ruling took swift effect, prompting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to announce it would stop enforcing the order.
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"Air Canada was informed by U.S. Authorities Friday evening that the CBP was returning to its operating procedures as they were prior to the signing of the executive order, and we immediately revised our travel documentation checks to remain compliant," Air Canada spokesperson John Reber wrote in an email to CBC News Saturday.
Unknown how many Canadian passengers affected
There was a similar refrain from WestJet, but neither that airline nor Air Canada would say how many passengers were affected while the order was in place.
"The situation is extremely fluid and we are working to ensure the changes are communicated to WestJet frontline staff as they occur. We are not giving out any numbers in regards to any guests that have been turned away," WestJet spokesperson, Lauren Stewart said.
Porter Airlines confirms one person was unable to travel last week as a result of the order.
I expect the Trump administration to fight the court order vigorously. So my advice is to get in ASAP and brace!- Vancouver-based lawyer Bijan Ahmadian
It's unknown how many Canadian passengers were affected by the ban while it was in effect. Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said last Sunday that the government was aware of "a small number of passengers" who had been denied boarding as a result of it.
As a result of the temporary restraint, passengers with valid travel documents who had been banned were allowed to begin boarding U.S.-bound flights on Saturday, no matter their country of origin.
Welcome news to many
And that was welcome news to many travelling out of Toronto's Pearson Airport on Saturday.
Syed Ahmed, who was travelling to Afghanistan via Boston, told CBC News that though he is a Canadian citizen, news of the order had him worried he might face delays and added screening at the border.
"I'm Muslim so I was worried especially because I have a stop in Boston," he said. "But luckily the judge in Seattle overruled the ban," he said, adding he still has some trepidations.
The White House issued a statement Friday evening promising that the Department of Justice will appeal Robart's ruling.
'Common sense should prevail'
"At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this order and defend the executive order of the president, which we believe is lawful and appropriate. The president's order is intended to protect the homeland…" the statement said.
The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!—@realDonaldTrump
In the meantime, some lawyers say anyone hoping to travel to the U.S. should do so before the restrictions are reinstated.
"The judge's order is a demonstration of true democracy — that the rule of law is upheld. But, it may turn out to be just a narrow window for those otherwise banned to get in," said Vancouver-based lawyer Bijan Ahmadian.
"I expect the Trump administration to fight the court order vigorously. So my advice is to get in ASAP and brace!"
For now, Ahmed says, he's hopeful.
"I think common sense should prevail. We are human."
With files from Natalie Nanowski