Disney vacation turns to nightmare for Mississauga family

By: Nicholas Keung, Immigration reporter
Toronto Star | March 3, 2015

A Mississauga family says a dream trip to Disney World in February turned into a nightmare after they were held by U.S. customs at Pearson airport, denied entry and paraded in public before returning home.

Firas Al-Rawi, an emergency room doctor at Toronto General Hospital, said he booked the Family Day holiday trip in early December so his wife and children could join him at a professional conference in Orlando that week. The family had taken numerous trips to the United States by air and car without incident.

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According to the National Council of Canadian Muslims, 14 per cent of the 182 human rights complaints it received between 2011 and 2013 involved travel restrictions to the U.S…

Lawyer Khalid Elgazzar, vice chair of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said being barred from entry to the U.S. can affect a person’s ability to fulfill work obligations, not to mention the stigma that’s created among colleagues and friends.

“There is a sense that these secondary screenings are not random,” said Elgazzar. “Canadians do not have any rights in the U.S. There is no access to information. There’s no redress mechanism and little you can do.”

The council plans to do a survey investigating the Muslim community’s experience with travel and mobility, as well as a spring forum to address the impact of the post-9/11 period on civil liberties.