One local official that work closely with newcomers to Canada is concerned about the tone that is being set with President Donald Trump’s sweeping changes as to who is and is not allowed into the U.S. currently.
Trump recently signed an executive order that closed U.S. borders to people from seven Muslim-majority countries, according to news reports. These countries include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen and the order is to last for 90 days.
Since then, demonstrations have been held in protest. There have also already been legal challenges to the measure as there was some confusion over issues such as dual-citizenship and what that would mean in regards to those trying to enter the United States as well.
Here in Red Deer, Frank Bauer, executive director of the Central Alberta Refugee Effort (C.A.R.E.) said that he is pleased that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has gone the opposite direction by stating that Canada remains open to those seeking refuge.
“I’m happy with the message that our prime minister sent – that every refugee and every person who needs help as a refugee is welcome in Canada regardless of their religion,” he said. “I’m happy with that message. The message is important.”
Meanwhile, Bauer said he isn’t surprised at Trump’s action or of the speed in which it came about.
“The way he announced it – without too much clarity up front – was I think not a smart thing to do.”
He also points out that those behind the Sept. 11th attacks did not enter the U.S. as refugees, so the idea that terrorists are necessarily included in refugees entering a given country is unfounded as well.
“It’s more of a signal that he’s giving out than anything else,” said Bauer. “I can imagine that it makes everybody nervous – what’s next?”
Bauer said that personally, he also wonders about the unpredictability that the American government is showing in introducing these kinds of measures. “It’s difficult to say what the situation will be two days from now.”
He added that he is also concerned about the tone that Trump’s measures may cause in the United States and beyond.
He explained that one of those wrong messages being sent is that Muslims in a general sense are either terrorists and on their way to becoming terrorists.
“That’s a very bad and wrong message,” he said, while acknowledging that Trump didn’t outright say the ban was against Muslims in particular.
“Imagine if you are a Muslim living in the U.S. or even in Canada – regardless of whether you are a refugee or not,” he said, adding it would be hard to not feel nervous in the current circumstances.
Ultimately, regardless of the exact wording of Trump’s order, it’s the potential setting of a mood that is troubling, he said.
Clearly, the future of refugees seeking to settle in the U.S. is growing more uncertain, too. And the numbers of refugees and displaced people is on the rise, said Bauer.
“If you look at the overall statistics, I think the number of refugees world-wide is only increasing,” he said. “So I’m not sure where this is going altogether.
“I’m also really curious, again, as to what the situation is two days from now.”