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Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Is this the way US Customs and Border Protection should treat Trusted Travellers from Canada?

Asked by Dr_Lawrence (19401 points ) November 9th, 2012

I’ve been married for almost 10 years but because of my disability, I have been unable to sponsor my wife to live with me here in Canada.

I benefit from excellent and extensive health care, full prescription coverage (no deductible or co-payments), complete dental care, and vision care needs all of which provided free to me here. In addition, almost half my income depends on my continued residence in this Canadian Province. That is why I would not and could not afford to take up residence in the USA. I would not never seek to reside in the USA even if I were offered permission to do so.

Despite the fact that I have explained this politely both verbally and in writing to the staff at the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) they continue to treat me treat me with unjustified suspicion when I want to cross the border to visit my wife for short periods (e.g. a week or so) Despite my severe chronic back pain, they routinely force me to come in and sit in the waiting area on a steel bench for up to an hour each time without even asking me any questions or examining the detail log I keep (at their suggestion) of my travels into and out of the USA. They refuse to explain my they force me to sit in “time out.” They won’t even admit that I have been selected for such treatment let alone why they do this to me.

I carry a Nexus card, issued jointly by CBP and Immigration Canada which is issued only to Trusted Travellers. This routine harassment at the US Border keeps me from spending more than a little time with my wife in her apartment in the USA.

My wife is not subjected to such trouble when she enters Canada as long as her visits with me in Canada do not exceed the duration she specifies on her arrival at the border.

In an average month, we are required to be apart far more than we are permitted to spend visiting each other. We manage to see each other 7 to 11 days per month.

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15 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Where does your wife reside? I’m thinking ask her legislative people to look into it. This is so wrong.

Judi's avatar

Maybe your name is the same as a name on the terrorist watch list. I have a couple of friends who have the same problem.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

My wife, an American by birth, resides in the adjacent US state. Since “Homeland Security” runs US Customs and Border Protection, its officers and managers seem to operate as a power not subject to challenge or oversight. The powers granted to Homeland Security under the legislation that created it, seem to support the notion that CBP is free to do pretty much what they want to whomever. Even the courts, it seems have little or no jurisdiction over Homeland Security and the decision of their agents and officers. As someone who is not American, I have no protection from the US Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

My name is so unusual, that there is virtually no chance that I have been confused with anyone on the watch list or no-fly list. It seems that they refuse to overcome the delusion that I am trying to live illegally and secretly in the USA despite all evidence to the contrary!

jrpowell's avatar

How far is the next border crossing over from the one you normally use? Maybe the people at the next one over are less of dicks. In the end you could break even on time.

Judi's avatar

Can you ask your wife to talk to her congressman?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@johnpowell I has discovered that no matter how far East or West I go, something pops up that results in the same mistreatment, – Even in North Dakota, Idaho and Washington !

@Judi I can try to get her to write to her member of Congress and the Senator(s) for Montana. She is so disillusioned with all politicians that she refuses to vote. She is preparing to write to Washington, DC because Border stuff is federal, not state regulated.

Thanks @Adirondackwannabe , @Judi , @johnpowell for your thoughful responses and suggestions!

hearkat's avatar

What about the Canadian Consulate and/or the agencies that issued the “Trusted Traveller” card? Have you searched the web to see if others have similar complaints? If there are a number of people with a similar experience, it may bring more attention to the problem. I hope you find resolution!

bolwerk's avatar

She can write to her Congressman, and he’ll ignore it. And he’s close to powerless to do anything anyway. Probably a lot of it goes back to Obama’s administrative discretion, or certainly the Secretary of Homeland Security’s.

And absolutely, DHS was set up with a lot of arbitrary power. It’s insane, and I know more than one person who refuses to visit the USA now because of it.

augustlan's avatar

We have another Canadian jelly who visits the US frequently, and I’ve sent this question to her to see if she goes through this ordeal every time.

gailcalled's avatar

If you have to sit in an uncomfortable spot for a “time out” that causes you pain, can you exaggerate that? For example, wear a back brace over your shirt and trousers so that, if you take your coat off, the Iron Maiden apparatus will show. Plus, it may actually make sitting on a hard bench a little easier.

For example

Or this

Or use crutches? Or bring several pillows to support you on the hard bench.

snowberry's avatar

Would they permit you to bring your own chair into “time out”? Or just have a portable wheel chair that you have stashed in your vehicle for this purpose.

How about flying instead? You’d be able to go through the checkpoint in a wheel chair. Yes, they’d still be creepos, but you might actually be treated better than this nonsense.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@snowberry, they let me bring in my Obus and/or my portable recliner and that is more comfortable.

snowberry's avatar

Well that’s something. See if they’ll let you bring in your big screen TV, and a refrigerator too!. These folks are definitely in their own insular world.

How do you do with TSA? Would they even let you fly?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I fly very seldom and for reasons of saving money, I fly within the USA not between Canada and the USA.

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