PHOTO: Travel into the United States has become enormously problematic for some. (Photo via Flickr/Fiona Wen Hui C)
Don’t be mistaken. The United States has lost its luster as a nation of inclusion and open arms.
You only need to read this headline from The Hamilton Spectator that reads, “The United States you loved to visit isn't such a friendly place anymore.”
It’s a biting statement that should make most Americans uncomfortable, especially when we have come to pride ourselves on acceptance and warmth.
The Ontario publication relays a recent story about dozens of students from the University of Guelph headed for Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana as part of their work with Habitat for Humanity.
The goodwill tour hit something of a roadblock for a specific set of the group.
The report states: “Most of the vehicles traveling south got through the border at Windsor. But one vanload of students was refused entry. That van was searched. For three hours, the students — all Canadian citizens — were photographed, fingerprinted and their travel documents were flagged.”
A letter from the organization wasn’t enough for border officials who denied entry and demanded that prior authorization was needed.
Volunteer Natalya Savaryn tells the Spectator, “I was pretty surprised and shocked.”
Another Habitat volunteer, Karolina Rabianska, chimed in: “It's kind of frustrating. We had been planning this since November. We were trying to do something nice.”
The publication spoke with immigration lawyer Tim Flannery who credits Donald Trump’s rhetoric and recent travel policies that have led to many Canadians being sent the other way. The internet has been flooded recently with anecdotes from the American border that certainly shade the U.S. in a negative light.
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Australian children’s book author Mem Fox recently explained border officials had quite the effect:
“They made me feel like such a crushed, mashed, hopeless old lady and I am a feisty, strong, articulated English speaker. I kept thinking that if this were happening to me, a person who is white, articulate, educated and fluent in English, what on earth is happening to people who don’t have my power?”
A US-born JPL employee was forced to unlock his highly secure phone for border agents. And, apropos to this situation, a Canadian citizen who frequents the United States was recently denied entry after being asked a religious line of questions.
The impact of the Trump administration has already been felt. ASTA states the first travel ban adversely affected travel into the U.S.
Policy has met uncertain outcomes for those traveling to the border, which is why even the Girl Guides of Canada are steering clear of America.
Via The Hamilton Spectator: “If you are of Middle Eastern descent, the problems are heightened. U.S. border officials say they don't engage in racial profiling. But the experiences of people with brown skin, especially if they were born in a place like Iran or Afghanistan, tell a different story.”
However, the report also cites a statement from immigration and border officials that they, “fully support and appreciate President Trump's swift and decisive action to keep the American people safe and allow law enforcement to do its job.”
An addendum reads that “morale amongst our agents and officers has increased exponentially since the signing of the (executive) orders.”
While officers may savor the new regime, myriad potential travelers are looking towards the United States only to cross it off their respective travel list, if only for the moment.