OTTAWA/TORONTO: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed those fleeing war and persecution on Saturday even as Canadian airlines said they would turn back U.S.-bound passengers to comply with an immigration ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
A day after U.S. President Donald Trump put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from the seven countries, Trudeau said in a tweet: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”
A second tweet included an archive photo of Trudeau welcoming a Syrian refugee at a Canadian airport in 2015.
Confusion abounded at airports around the world on Saturday as immigration and customs officials struggled to interpret the new U.S. rules.
In Canada, WestJet Airlines said it turned back a passenger bound for the United States on Saturday to comply with an executive order signed by Trump on Friday. WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said the airline would give full refunds to anyone affected by the order. It did not say which country the passenger had come from.
The order would help protect Americans from terrorist attacks, the president said.
Stewart said WestJet had been informed by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) that the ban did not apply to dual citizens who had passports from countries other than those covered by the ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
“U.S. CBP has confirmed it is the citizenship document they present to enter the country, not the country of where they were born,” Stewart wrote in an email.
Air Canada, the country’s other major airline, said it was complying with the order but did not comment on whether it had yet denied travel to any passengers.
“We are required to ensure passengers have the required documents for entry into, or transit the countries they are traveling to,” said spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur. “In the case of these nationalities, they are not permitted to enter the U.S.” – Reuters