Canada and the United States have long shared what is popularly known as “the world’s friendliest border,” in addition to being one of the longest in the world. The massive border line between the northern United States and Southern Canada runs along the entire width of the North American continent. For millions of Canadians, it’s an easy matter to cross over into the next country, and in the past, some citizens only required a driver’s license—or even nothing at all if they were border town, frequent travelers—to drive over.
In the modern day, things have changed a lot, and not for the better. While Canadians still have an easy time of crossing the border compared to many other nationalities, things are more difficult now than they ever have been before.
Usually, when a new president is elected to office in the US, there’s minimal impact on how that incoming administration will affect the personal lives of Canadians. That’s completely expected, considering these are the affairs of another country.
However, with the most recent presidential election, one of the primary policies at the forefront of the new president’s outlook is xenophobia, better known as the fear of outsiders or aliens. As an official political policy, this has been implemented on a nationwide, security level right down to the Customs & Border Protection (CBP) that handles the processing of visitors into the United States
How This Affects Canadians
Canadians, comparatively speaking, are still one of the most frequently admitted visitors into the USA, with an overall rejection rate of less than 1%. Even with that small number, things have been changing, and over 27000 Canadians were barred from entry in the US in 2016, representing a nearly 7% increase in rejections.
As unfair as it may seem, this is 100% legal. The CBP has been granted the legal power to make decisions on the spot about who to allow into the country and that authority, while it may be questioned, cannot be challenged. Once a CBP officer has a made a decision, you are breaking the law if you choose to ignore it.
Security, Race, Religions & Politics
There are essentially four reasons that motivate the CBP now to evaluate whether or not to admit a Canadian into the United States. Racial and religious profiling are, unfortunately, are now a part of the admittance process. Anyone that is a visible minority, especially with a name and appearance consistent with the Middle East region, or even the South Asian region, such as India, may be singled out and questioned, detained, interrogated and ultimately not admitted into the US.
Politics also plays a role, as Canadians have now been questioned about their feelings towards the current president, and turned away if they disagree with the current view. Fortunately, this can be easily managed by simply agreeing with the current policy and showing a positive attitude towards the president.
However, security, like race and religion, is more difficult to hide. The CBP has now increased the number of background checks they conduct on visitors. The CBP has always had the power to bar entry to anyone with a criminal record. However, over the years, many people with such records have been admitted into the US without problems simply because the CBP never bothered to conduct such a background check.
This is now changing as Ken Drake of Hamilton, Ontario, found earlier in the year. After decades of visiting Florida, and even owning a winter home there, he was turned away at the Detroit airport. The CBP conducted a check and found a criminal conviction from when he was 17 years old. He is now permanently barred entry into the US and is selling his retirement home there.
What You Can Do
In the case of racial profiling, there’s little a Canadian can do to increase the chances of admittance. Religious and political affiliation can easily be dealt with by agreeing with the CBP about religious or political views. However, a criminal record requires more action.
If you haven’t had a background check conducted at the border, you can seek a Record Suspension. This means when a check is run by the CBP, nothing appears. However, if you have already had a check conducted and the presence of a conviction was found, even a Record Suspension won’t help you get re-entry. That information is now in the CBP database permanently, so a Record Suspension on the Canadian side does nothing.
For those already flagged by a background check, a US Entry Waiver document can be secured to allow travel into the US. We have the knowledge and experience to help people with both record suspensions and a US Entry Waivers. If you need this kind of help, contact us and we can help you.