Canadian 5,000m record holder Mohammed Ahmed is the latest athlete to speak out on Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily bans visitors from seven nations entering the United States. Ahmed, who trains with the Nike-sponsored Bowerman Track Club in Oregon, wrote an op-ed piece for CBC Sports shortly after he “watched his [Trump’s] tiny hands, with a few long scribbles, pen to fruition the words that had been coming out of his pursed lips for a year-and-a-half on the campaign trail.”
Ahmed was born in Mogadishu, Somalia before moving to Canada at a young age. The country of his birth, along with six other predominantly Muslim countries were the subject of the Trump administration’s ban. The details of the ban and its very legality have been called into question, sparking widespread protests and heated debate in the U.S. and around the world.
According to Ahmed, the effects of the executive order “did not hit home” until he spoke with his brother Ibrahim, a standout runner who competed for Southern Utah University, fellow Olympian Cam Levins’s alma mater. Many of Ahmed’s friends messaged him asking how the ban may affect him. Ahmed’s brother texted him saying, “Bro, bad news. Because of the executive order my work visa is in jeopardy.”
“Ibrahim had secured a job offer with Ernst & Young in San Francisco,” Ahmed writes. “The work is scheduled to start in August, well before he completes his master’s degree. E&Y has been working with Ibrahim to secure an H1-B visa. Although the email tried to put a positive spin on the news, holding out hope that business immigration would go unaffected by the ban, it is ultimately at the government’s discretion.”
According to CNN, the Department of Homeland Security has suspended the travel ban as of Saturday.
Following Trump’s executive order announcement, Ahmed “began to calculate the real effects this ban will have on me directly” and goes on to describe past border issues travelling between Canada and the United States. Ahmed, who grew up in St. Catharines, Ont. attended the University of Wisconsin before moving to the U.S. west coast.
“I have been flagged by airlines and had to wait at check-in counters for my name to be cleared by airport security,” he recalls. “I have been denied boarding passes to connecting flights. I have been selected for extra screening more times than I can count.”
The 26-year-old has resided in the United States for approximately seven years. He finished fourth in the men’s 5,000m at the Rio Olympics, narrowly missing out on a podium spot at what was his second appearance at the Games. He won the Pan American Games 10,000m in 2015.
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Ahmed says that there “has to be” a better way to address “cultural differences” between nations. “I am not an expert on foreign policy and I don’t pretend to be, but at face value Trump’s ban does nothing to improve security concerns,” he says.
Once he has finished pursuing his running aspirations, Ahmed would like to attend law school in hopes of being able to “make a difference in issues exactly like the one we are currently facing.” You can read the full transcript of Ahmed’s piece over at CBC Sports by clicking here.