Montreal woman denied entry to U.S.; officials say protest 'not a good enough reason'
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, January 23, 2017 9:40AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 23, 2017 10:00AM EST
A Montreal woman says she was denied permission to cross the Canada-U.S. border after telling officials she was on her way to join more than half a million protesters for the Women’s March on Washington.
Mandi Morgan told CTV Montreal that a U.S. border agent at a Quebec crossing told her, “attending a protest is not a good enough reason to be allowed into the United States of America.”
In the days leading up to inauguration, thousands of Canadians travelled to Washington, D.C., to protest U.S. President Donald Trump and show solidarity with scores of American demonstrators sending the message that, “Women’s rights are human rights.”
Morgan, who claims she has never had difficulty crossing the border and does not have a criminal record, is confused why she was denied entry to the U.S.
After several questions, she said her group was sent to a secondary inspection area. She claims the border agent took her photograph and fingerprints before turning her away, despite her reservations about personal privacy.
“I did not feel comfortable handing over my physical blueprints to another country when my own country doesn’t even have (them),” she said.
Immigration lawyer Neil Drabkin says, easy travel across the Canada-U.S. border is a privilege most Canadians take for granted. He expects border officials on the U.S. side to increase their scrutiny of cross-border travellers under the new U.S. administration.
“With President Trump now in the Oval Office, I expect that there will be more careful vetting at U.S. borders,” he said.
U.S. Border Services said, in a written statement, that it could not comment on specific cases due to privacy laws, noting that it admits one million people into the U.S. every day, and only turns away about 600.
The statement listed several reasons travellers might be denied entry, including a lack of proper travel documents, intent to engage in prohibited activities or smuggling contraband materials.
“Entering the country to participate in a march is not a prohibited act,” the agency said.
Drabkin says border officials can deny entry if there is suspicion that an individual’s engagement in a protest may lead to disruption or violence.
He advises travellers who are denied entry to ask to speak to a supervisor if they believe their rejection is unwarranted.
Morgan said she felt the vetting process was especially arbitrary in her case, since the vehicle her group was travelling in was followed by one of the many buses carrying Canadians to the protest.
“I knew someone on that bus and it was full of people wanting to go down to the protest,” she said. “My process took about an hour and there were 100 people on that bus who would have taken 100 hours to process.”
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Amanda Kline