January 29, 2017 / 5:38 PM / in 10 months

Canada to offer temporary residency to travelers stranded by U.S

OTTAWA/TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada will offer temporary residency to any travelers stranded by U.S. President Donald Trump’s orders temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries, a senior official said on Sunday.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told a news conference he did not know how many people might be eligible but said only a small number of passengers trying to fly to the United States from Canada had been denied boarding.

Trump’s abrupt decision on Friday, which also affects refugees, left people around the world uncertain of whether they would be allowed to enter the United States.

“Let me assure those who may be stranded in Canada that I will use my authority as minister to provide them with temporary residency if they need it, as we have done so in the past,” Hussen said.

The government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far refrained from criticizing the United States, which takes 75 percent of all Canadian exports, preferring instead to stress Canada is open to refugees.

The Canadian Council for Refugees called on Ottawa to pull put of its so-called Safe Third Country agreement with the United States, under which Canada returns asylum seekers crossing the U.S. border.

Such a move would be diplomatically insulting and Hussen said the pact would remain unchanged for now.

Local and national politicians in Canada have already condemned Trump’s ban. On Sunday, the opposition New Democrats called for an emergency debate in the federal Parliament.

Earlier in the day, more than 200 Canadian technology company founders, executives and investors called on Ottawa to immediately give temporary residency to those displaced by Trump’s order.

“Canadian tech companies understand the power of inclusion and diversity of thought, and that talent and skill know no borders,” the letter said.

Canada is eager to attract skilled tech workers from abroad while also retaining employees and students who are often lured away by global companies. More than 300,000 Canadians work in California’s Silicon Valley.

Bob Vaez, the Iranian-born chief executive of tech firm Event Mobi, on Sunday canceled plans to accept an industry award in Las Vegas.

Trump’s move could push many event organizers to seek alternative locations for their events, he said.

“Are they going to keep their conferences in the U.S., knowing that so many people are going to be barred?” he said.

In November, Canada introduced new visa measures that would allow tech companies to quickly recruit foreign talent.

Additional reporting by David Ljunggren; Writing by Amran Abocar and David Ljunggren; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Lisa Von Ahn

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