Rescinding of U.S. travel ban doesn’t prevent some Canadian citizens from being denied at the border

22 Mar 2023

Entry into the U.S. is not a right and remains at the discretion of the border agent you encounter. Border agents are not obliged to disclose the reasons for denying entry to a visitor.

Although President Trump’s travel ban has been overturned, some Canadian citizens are being stopped at the border and refused entry into the U.S. CBC reported one instance of a student being turned away at the border in Quebec. Yassine Aber, a 19-year-old kinesiology student at the University of Sherbrooke, was denied entry to the United States on Thursday while trying to cross the border. The 19-year-old was travelling in a vehicle with five other athletes and their coach. The others were made to wait five hours while he was questioned by border guards. Aber was born in Canada to Moroccan parents and was travelling on a valid Canadian passport.

In another instance reported by the CBC, A Montreal woman says she was denied entry into the U.S. after being fingerprinted, photographed and questioned in detail about her religion and her views on U.S. President Donald Trump. Fadwa Alaoui, a Moroccan-born Canadian citizen who is Muslim and wears a hijab, says she has used her Canadian passport to enter the United States many times without incident to visit her parents and brother, who live there. They were stopped and questioned at the border for 4 hours before being turned away and forced to return to Montreal. They intended to go to Burlington, Vermont for a shopping excursion. Most of the questions they were asked were related to religion and they were even obligated to turn over their cellphones and passwords. She said she was also asked about the mosque shooting in Quebec City, if she knew any of the victims, and what she thought of Donald Trump’s policies.

I felt humiliated, treated as if I was less than nothing. It’s as if I wasn’t Canadian

It should be noted that Morocco is not among the seven countries targeted by a U.S. travel ban introduced by Trump.

Vice News also reported instances of what seems to be like increased scrutiny at the border. While not confirmed, it seems that border agents have demonstrated increased questioning at the border, and are asking about political associations, opinions, and even what travellers might think of Donald Trump and the existing Presidential administration.

The reality is that non-Americans (including Canadians) have very few rights at the border, and that even suspicion of criminal behaviour can be used to deny entry. While the travel ban has been rescinded from a legal perspective, and even though the White House had given assurances on border travel last month after the enactment of the travel ban, border agents can still deny Canadians entry into the United States. It’s really as simple as that.