Canadians boycotting U.S. travel in protest, fear of Trump's ban

A U.S. Border Patrol Agent walks onto a frozen lake near Norton, Vermont that is split between Canada and the U.S. Some Canadians say they will boycott travel to the U.S. in protest of Trump’s travel ban. Photo from Getty Images

Some Canadians are imposing a travel ban of their own — boycotting the United States after Donald Trump issued an executive order that forbids visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering America.

“Officially decided not to go to a conference in the US this summer. Might not step foot on US soil until 2021,” Emmett Macfarlane tweeted.

Macfarlane, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Waterloo, told Yahoo Canada News that he was stirred into action after Trump’s executive order was announced on Friday. It bars citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, as well as suspends admission of refugees for 120 days.

“It doesn’t feel right to attend a conference that other people may simply be prohibited from on the basis of their nationality,” he said.

Macfarlane recently did postdoctoral research at Harvard University and he and his family have visited the U.S. many times in recent years, including trips to New York, Alaska and Oregon. But he won’t be travelling there in the near future.

“It’ll be difficult for me to personally justify going to the United States so long as it continues these sorts of regressive policies,” he said.

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Other Canadians have also decided to boycott the U.S.

Fellow Waterloo professor Josh Neufeld tweeted on Friday evening, “Difficult decision but I am boycotting all travel to the USA for four years under @POTUS. Apologies to seminar and conference organizers.”

Neufeld, who declined an interview, told Yahoo Canada News in an email response that “now, with a refugee and Muslim country citizen ban in place, there is no question in my mind that the appropriate and necessary response for global citizens is to stand in solidarity with those whose travel freedoms have been revoked.”

The professor, who received some backlash on Twitter over his decision, said he knows of at least 10 faculty members, friends and strangers who are also boycotting the U.S.

Chet Robie, a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said in an email he endorsed Neufeld’s decision and that he renounced his own U.S. citizenship in 2012 over concerns about the direction the country was heading “with Republican obstructionism and blatant racism directed at the then POTUS.”

“I don’t have words to express how negatively I feel about the current U.S. administration’s direction and the general swell of populism in the U.S.” Robie said. “I too will not be travelling to the U.S. for any reason whatsoever during the tenure of the current U.S. administration.”

In Ottawa, immigration lawyer Arghavan Gerami and her husband planned on taking their two children to Florida for March Break. But the dual nationals (both were born in Iran) decided to cancel their trip because of the chaos and uncertainty at U.S. airports.

Gerami, an expert in refugee law, told Yahoo Canada News that even though the Canadian government has been reassured by the Trump administration that dual citizens would be allowed to visit the U.S. she didn’t want to subject her family to some arbitrary decision at the border.

“Peace of mind is what you want when you’re going to any country,” she said. “You want to know you’re not going to be singled out, you’re not going to be mistreated, you’re not going to be interrogated at the border or put in a separate line in front of your kids.”

Gerami said her 11-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son were very upset when she broke the news to them that they weren’t going to Walt Disney World or Universal Studios.

She and her husband haven’t decided where to take the children for March Break but they’re thinking of staying in Canada and perhaps go skiing.