Windsor immigrants worried about visiting U.S. family members after Trump travel ban

Immigrants living in Windsor are worried about Trump's executive order that closed the border to seven Muslim-majority nations, despite reassurances from the Canadian government.

Assurances that Canadian citizens and permanent residents aren't affected don't ease fears

Hine Shiyunus is a Syrian immigrant who has been living in Windsor for 11 months. He said Trump's travel ban makes him worry about how he'll be treated at the border when he goes to visit his cousin in Michigan. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Donald Trump's executive order to temporarily close the American border to seven Muslim-majority nations has immigrants in Windsor worried about visiting family in the United States.

The order, which was issued Friday evening, created confusion for travellers over the weekend and led to wide-spread protests across North America.

The U.S. State Department initially said the ban would cover Canadian citizens who also held citizenship with any of the seven countries listed by Trump — Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. But by Sunday, the Prime Minister's Office said Canadian citizens and permanent residents of this country would be allowed to cross the US border.

Worries and woes

Those assurances from the Canadian government haven't soothed fears in Windsor. "I'm worried about the borders, and the people there who are working on borders," said Hine Shiyunus through a translator. "How are they going to treat me if I want to go and visit my cousin or someone on that side? This is my woes, you know."

Although heartened by the protests, the Syrian refugee who came to Windsor 11 months ago said he's now worried about visiting his cousin in Michigan.

Naser Alabood, another Syrian immigrant, has the same fear. Although he planned to visit the U.S., the executive order has given him second thoughts.

"We were dreaming one day to be there, and to visit this great country, established on democracy, but now we're going to stay," he said through a translator. "So the democracy, when people who sacrificed their lives to build up this democratic country, now the image has been changed for us."

As a Muslim, Remy Boulbol is worried about going to work in America after U.S. President Donald Trump issued a travel ban to those coming from seven Muslim-majority countries. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Prove it

On Monday, Remy Boulbol said compared the treatment she received crossing the border to the days after Sept. 11.

Despite having both American and Canadian citizenship with hundreds of border crossings under her belt, a border guard asked Boulbol to provide three separate documents to show she had the right to enter the United States.

"I told him I was a U.S. citizen. He said, 'Prove it.' It even says my place of birth on my passport," she explained. "I gave him my birth certificate. He seemed OK with that, and didn't really say much, was quite rude, tossed it back into my window, and just said, 'Go.'"

That kind of treatment could be the status quo, at least for the next little while according to immigration lawyer Eddie Kadri.

I've never seen anything like this.- Immigration lawyer Eddie Kadri

He said his phone was ringing off the hook over the weekend with worried callers wondering what the executive order would mean for them.

Kadri suggests people have their identification ready and evidence of what they plan to do in the United States when they pull up to the inspection booth.

Immigration lawyer, Eddie Kadri, said his phone was ringing off the hook all weekend with panicked calls from people worried about what the executive order would mean for them when visiting family in the U.S. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"The advice I give to each client is on a case-by-case basis, depending upon the nature and extent of their business interests or the family members that they can't be separated from if it's a wife or a child," he said. "But it's one of the most unique times - I've been doing this almost 15 years now - I've never seen anything like this."