U.S. border guards nix vacation for Toronto-area family

A trip to Disney World did not go as planned for a Toronto-area family that were turned away by U.S. border officials.

Doctor, wife, 3 kids fingerprinted then turned away by officials at Pearson

A trip to Disney World did not go as planned for a Toronto-area family when they were turned away by U.S. border officials.

Dr. Firas Al-Rawi, an emergency room doctor at Toronto General Hospital, says he and his family got no further than Pearson International Airport when they set off for Florida on Feb. 13. 

Instead, Al-Rawi told CBC Radio's As it Happens, he was pulled aside and questioned. The family was fingerprinted, twice, their electronic devices were confiscated and Al-Rawi was eventually told they would not be allowed into the U.S. 

Their devices, which contained unveiled photos of his wife and daughter, were not returned and they were escorted out of the building, he said. 

"They were parading us like we were a flock of sheep," Al-Rawi said. "It was very traumatic." 

Al-Rawi, a Canadian citizen who was born in Iraq, says the U.S. officials did not ask any questions about his ties to Canada. 

"It's almost as if they made up their minds as soon as they saw us," he said. 

"I have a reasonable online footprint. They could have Googled me and found my ties to Canada, they just didn't." 

Click the audio player to hear the entire interview.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.