Calgary man blames Trump for border delays that made him miss niece's wedding in Pakistan

Calgary man blames Trump for border delays that made him miss niece's wedding in Pakistan

A Pakistan-born Canadian says despite getting to the airport three hours early, he missed his flight and his niece's wedding, and is out hundreds of dollars, due to border security delays that he blames on Donald Trump.

Malik Khan arrived at the Calgary airport on Monday to fly to Pakistan, but the first leg of his trip took him to Seattle. He checked his bags and headed to U.S. customs where his plans were derailed.

"And then officer told me I can go in a room," said Khan, a Canadian citizen who was born in Pakistan.

He said he spent 2½ hours in that room, where he said officials seemed as though they were just passing time. 

When he was eventually cleared by U.S. border officials, his flight had left. As a consequence, he missed his niece's wedding.

"This is not the first time I'm going to U.S.," he said. "I went there so many times. Never had any trouble. Why now?"

Khan has his own theory about that question.

"Because of Mr. Trump. This is the only reason I would say," he said. 

Khan says he hasn't decided whether he can afford to buy a new airline ticket, which he says would cost $1,800. To add insult to injury, he says the airline lost one of his suitcases.

Border stories

Khan's delay is just the latest in a series of stories about issues at the U.S.-Canada border, which some feel has hardened in the wake of Donald Trump's election as U.S. president.

Last week, Bill McLevin, who has been regularly travelling to the U.S. for years was barred from entering the country at the Sweetgrass border crossing in Montana. 

McLevin was denied based on a drug charge from the 1970s. 

Others, like Calgarian Vibhu Mahajan are anticipating problems and reconsidering their travel plans to the U.S. based on reported troubles at the border, including a Montreal woman who was denied entry after being questioned about her religion and views on Trump.

New travel ban

That fear is particularly pronounced in light of a new executive order from Trump, which bars new visas for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries and bars all refugees for 120 days.

"I don't think he banned six countries, he banned all the Muslim countries, all the Muslim people I would say, because he doesn't want them to go there," said Khan, adding with some they outright deny visas, and with people like him, they delay until they can't fly in.

Pakistan is not on the list of banned countries. 

"This is their fault, they were just discriminating against me," he said. 

No absolute right to enter a country

Kelly Sundberg is an associate professor at Mount Royal University, and a former Canadian customs officer.

He said travellers who are going to or connecting through the U.S. have to be prepared for changes at the border. 

"The only time we ever have an absolute right to enter another country is when we're a citizen of that country," he said.

"I think it's important we respect the fact that they've brought in new laws, like it or not, that if we go into that country we have to comply with those."

Khan is still in Calgary and hasn't decided if he's going to pay for a new ticket and try again, but he's not going to go through the U.S. if he can help it.

"This is the right way for everybody. I advise everybody, don't go through U.S. because they are not very friendly these days."

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