Interview with CBC Calgary Rob Brown on the #Muslimban

It was a pleasure being asked to discuss the #muslimban on CBC last night. A transcript of my discussion with CBC Calgary’s Rob Brown follows.

Rob Brown:                                       One of the biggest protests over that travel ban was in Toronto today. Demonstrators gathering outside the US Consulate to condemn Donald Trump’s controversial decision.

Demonstrator:                  This is what democracy looks like!

Demonstrators:                This is what democracy looks like!

Demonstrator:                  What does democracy look like?

Demonstrators:                This is what democracy looks like!

Rob Brown:                                       The US President signed the Executive Order on Friday, late Friday. Protestors say many refugees stuck in airports are being turned back to dangerous places because of their religion, their language, or their skin color.

Still not entirely clear what this travel ban means for some Canadians, so to help clear up some of that confusion, I’m joined now by Calgary immigration lawyer, Raj Sharma. Pleasure to welcome you back to the show.

Raj Sharma:                        My pleasure.

Rob:                                       Let’s start with what you’ve heard from Dr. Farouk [ph] there. In his concerns about entering the US, what would you advise him to do?

Raj Sharma:                        Frankly … I share those concerns. I think a lot of Muslims are [experiencing] sleepless nights. I think in Canada, and after, of course, Quebec city, I think Muslims are experiencing sleepless nights in North America generally. And he’s right. It’s a normalization of hatred, and this is a discourse that politicians have been engaged in in the US, and it’s a discourse that politicians are engaging in Canada as well. What would I tell them? As someone who deals with immigrants and refugees all the time, and growing up just like he did in Canada? Frankly, I think, it’s a very very sad day. It’s a very sad day for a number of reasons. The United States was a economic, scientific juggernaut for decades because they attracted the best of the best. Whether you’re from India, or Iran, or China, or wherever you were from, you would want to go to the US. The beacon, the pinnacle. Where you would be able to-

Rob:                                       And now?

Raj Sharma:                        And now I think a lot of individuals are gonna have second thoughts.

Rob:                                       So you’re advising clients not to go to the US?

Raj Sharma:                        I’m advising my clients … And again, if you put it in the context of the last 72 or more hours, if you’re a Green Card holder from a Muslim majority country my advice is stay put in the US and apply for American citizenship. If you’re a permanent resident of Canada and you’re from a Muslim majority country, not just one of those seven countries, my advice is to stay put and get Canadian citizenship. If you are … Any other reason for example, I mean, bear in mind Rob, they stopped in Iraqi interpreters. People that put their lives on the line to help Canadian and US forces, who got SIV visas, Special Immigrant Visas, they were harassed. They were detained at airports over this weekend.

Rob Brown:                                      It’s so unpredictable. That’s the point.

Raj Sharma:                        I don’t know what to advise my Muslim clients, but my advice would be to … Yeah, second thoughts is probably what my advice would be right now.

Rob:                                       You mentioned seven countries. I want to list them: Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Iran and Syria. So a Canadian who may have dual citizenship any one of those countries, and Canadian citizenship, obviously being Canadian, are they still allowed in the US right now?

Raj Sharma:                        Well as of right now, yes. But as of 48 hours ago, no. And so again, as a lawyer, what advice do you give clients? There’s no certainty right now. These are all turbulent waters. These are all muddied waters. And so on Friday, this came up, this Executive Order, and it seemed to apply to Canadian dual nationals, it seemed to apply to Canadian permanent residents. And by Saturday, okay, it may or may not apply. And by Sunday, okay, it doesn’t apply. So how do you give that advice, and what’s next if this is what happened within week one of the Donald Trump Presidency? We’ve got three years and 51 weeks to go. What’s the next country that’s gonna be on the list? Is Pakistan next on the list? Reince Priebus indicated that it might be on Meet the Press this weekend.

Rob:                                       The point is we don’t know. We’re gonna have to leave this chat there, I expect we’ll continue to talk about it in the weeks, and months, years ahead, you illustrated. Thanks Raj. Nice to see you.

Raj Sharma:                        My pleasure.