02:12 GMT14 July 2020
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    When US President Donald Trump imposed a travel ban on citizens from several Muslim-majority countries in February 2017, Canadian officials had to scramble for details about what exactly the new measure meant, documents released by the US Department of Homeland Security show.

    As The Canadian Press discovered via a US Freedom of Information Act request, Canadian government officials bombarded their southern neighbor with a list of 16 detailed questions, trying to figure out various parts of the order, from refugee claims to biometric tracking.

    Some of the questions included: "Do measures in the executive order related to US privacy policies affect the ‘treatment of data' held about Canadians"; "Are there more details about planned standards to prevent ‘terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals'"; and "What impact, if any, does the order have on the asylum determination system," the website reports.

    According to the "Safe Third Country Agreement" between the US and Canada, an asylum seeker must claim refuge in whichever country they come to first.

    When the order — known officially as the Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States — was signed on February 1, 2017, it immediately caused massive confusion, leading to lots and lots of incidents, such as 200 Canadian residents suddenly having their Nexus trusted-traveller cards disabled, CBC reported.

    It was also unclear how the order would affect citizens of a restricted country that were immigrants to Canada.

    Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale had to personally call then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to get answers.

    Following the talks, the Canadian ministry issued a statement saying they were "grateful to the United States for their assistance to help us understand the effects of executive orders. Canadians now have a better understanding of these changes."

    On a curious note, The Canadian Press discovered that prior to the call, Kelly received notes prepared by department staff. One of the notes said that Goodale might "express concerns regarding the increasing numbers of asylum seekers entering Canada between land ports of entry from the United States."

    The notes also said that, despite the media linking an increased influx of immigrants to Trump's travel ban, the trend actually predated the order and a majority of the asylum seekers had a valid visa that would have allowed them to remain in the United States.

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    Tags:
    Travel ban, Department of Public Safety, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), John Kelly, Ralph Goodale, Canada, United States
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