Posted date : Nov 13, 2017.
Dear Bird Talk,
The official U.S. government website help.cbp.gov/app/answers notes that Canadian vacationers are only required under American law to present a valid passport. Admittedly, they add the caveat that individual officers may ask for further proof.
Imagine my disappointment to see evidence both in your Travel Information Guide as well as in replies in the Bird Talk section of your magazine recommending subservience by Canadians suggesting that we now carry quite literally mountains of supporting documentation.
I’ll use my own situation briefly to illustrate. Over a 15-year span, I visited the States more than 25 times, always for vacation and family visits, and never once overstayed. My encounters with U.S. customs agents had always been professional and often even jovial. In the autumn of 2009, in my motorcoach, I was met by the most hostile officials I have ever dealt with.
It turned into an 11-hour nightmare that resulted in a five-year ban (Expedited Removal); I was charged with being a suspected Intending Immigrant. They didn’t ask for evidence of my ties to Canada and it was apparent that there was no convincing these people otherwise.
I have invested significant time, emotional energy and money in attempting to correct this malicious injustice to no avail. So, my fate remains cast.
However, if you indeed respected the Canadian travellers you claim to represent, in the future you would spend less time counselling timid acquiescence at the border and, perhaps, more effort pointing out to Washington the economic, political and social damage a select few of their civil servants are wreaking.
John R. S.
Ed: Thanks for your letter, John and, if that is your real name, it is even more appreciated. This can and does happen!! For no reason!! And snowbirds should be very aware of the unopposed power of a U.S. border guard. There is unfortunately no formal appeal process, so lawyers are the only possible course to, perhaps, getting a ruling reversed. Appeals can be very expensive…as John is finding out…and are usually unsuccessful. A foreigner suing a U.S. public official and the government, in a U.S. court, will probably have little chance of success. If anyone is aware of a ban being overturned, we would love to hear the details.
As to the CSA counselling subservience when dealing with border officials, we believe that this is the best course to avoid situations exactly like yours. Many guards are very officious and are looking for a confrontation to interrupt what must be long and very boring days. Some of them are actually having a very bad day themselves, due to family or financial matters. They will take their frustrations out on you sometimes; not fair, but reality. CSA regularly meets with these branches of government looking for ways to improve the border crossings so important to both countries. If, and when, our Snowbird Visa is adopted, we anticipate many fewer issues.