Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Canadian woman turned back from US border is racial profiling

A Montreal citizen, Canadian by birth, has been turned back at the US border and told she needs a visa in order to enter.
30-year old Manpreet Kooner is of Indian extraction, but was born in Montreal to Indian parents who immigrated to Canada way back in the 1960s. She has no criminal record and was travelling to the US on her Canadian passport, along with two white friends, also from Montreal. Neither of the friends were detained, but Ms. Kooner was subjected to a six-hour wait at the Quebec-Vermont border, where she was fingerprinted, photographed and grilled with questions, before being told she was an immigrant and needed to obtain a valid visa if she ever wanted to enter the States.
Now, a visa is not actually needed for Canadians entering into the USA - as her two friends can confirm - and the US embassy in Ottawa was at a loss to explain the occurrence. However, a US Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman insisted that, while she can't comment on individual cases, the possession of valid travel documents does not guarantee entry to the United States, something that may come as news to most Canadians.
This comes just a few weeks after another Montreal woman was grilled for hours and questioned about her religion, and about her opinions of Donald Trump, before being denied entry into the USA. Fadwa Alaoui is a Moroccan-born Canadian Muslim, but was travelling on a Canadian passport with other members of her family to visit relatives who live in the States. In response to that case, the US Customs and Border Protection has stated quite definitively that "CBP does not discriminate on the entry of foreign nationals to the United States based on religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation" and, if someone feels they have been wronged, they should file a written complaint on the department's website. And a fat lot of good that will probably do...
These are particularly heinous cases, but even before Donald Trump's election a growing number of Canadians were being turned away at the US border, often for little or no reason. In 2016, a total of 27,772 people were refused entry to the USA from Canada, an increase of 6.7% over the previous year, despite a decrease of 9% in cross-border trips over the same period.
But Ms. Kooner's and Ms. Alaoui's cases are clearly racial profiling at its most egregious. The Vermont border guard in Ms. Kooner's case even had the audacity to sneer, "I know you might feel like you've been Trumped". The Conservatives in the Canadian Parliament are - predictably, if inexplicably - blaming Justin Trudeau, as they always do. Montreal-area Liberal MP Anju Dillhon is apparently looking into remedying Ms. Kooner' s situation, preferably before the end of March when she was hoping to attend an American music festival.

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