OSF tours canceled due to immigration concerns

Ashland, Ore., — “It’s certainly already affected us negatively cause we want to increase tourism in Southern Oregon.”

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival brings hundreds of people a year to Ashland from across the country, and around the world.

A group of students from Canada were set to visit this season, but recently canceled because of the immigration order.

President Trump signed Executive Order 13769 (Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States) on January 27, 2017. The order restricts travel for 90 days from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Those countries have been deemed by Congress and the State Department as “associated with a heightened risk of terrorism”.

Canada was not included on the list of restricted countries. However, when speaking about the Canadian group, OSF Executive Director Cynthia Rider said, “They were afraid some of their students wouldn’t be able to get across the border.”

The group had more than 200 students and would’ve brought OSF almost $9,000 dollars in revenue.

But Rider says that isn’t her main concern. “What we’re worried about of course is that this could just be the start, and I think there’s a larger issue for us about the economic health of our region.”

Rider is thinking about Ashland as whole and what the order means for tourism. “The worry is while I’m not clairvoyant, I can’t see the future, and we don’t know what’s going to happen with this policy or others that may have consequences that we can’t even see ahead, so that’s what makes me unsettled.”

While Rider can’t do anything to get the students here, she hopes local representatives can do their part. “They’re in a better place to really look at and see what the consequences of what this could be, both short and long term because it already had an impact so quickly.”

[This article has been updated from a previous version to add details regarding President Trump’s temporary travel restrictions.]

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