With some unknown number of people swarming toward Washington to protest the peaceful transition of power, their ranks will be slightly smaller than anticipated when it comes to the Canadian contingent. I first saw this news from Jake Tapper on his twitter feed and I’ll confess that it took me by surprise.
CBC: Montrealers bound for Trump inauguration turned away at border
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 21, 2017
To steal a line from a popular meme… that escalated quickly.
It doesn’t sound like we’re talking about a large number of people. One of the Canadians who was refused entry was traveling with two other companions who were allowed through. CBC has confirmed the story, so it sounds legitimate.
CBC has spoken to two Montrealers who were refused entry to the U.S. en route to Washington for Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential inauguration today and the women’s march Saturday.
Joseph Decunha, a McGill University physics student, said he had tried to cross the border at Lacolle, Que., at 10 p.m. ET Thursday.
“The first thing he asked us point blank is, ‘Are you anti- or pro-Trump?'” Decunha claims he was asked by a border guard who eventually denied him entry.
Joseph Decunha (pictured below, complete with backpack and hipster beard and hairstyle) was eventually refused entry for “administrative reasons” though the Border Guard isn’t commenting on his specific case, nor are they required to. From at least his description of the conversation – we’re not hearing the other side of it – he was asked the purpose of his visit and he told the officials that he intended to attend the inauguration and join the women’s march scheduled for today. Is that a reason to turn somebody away?
Well, that depends who you ask, but the border guards really aren’t under any obligation to let anyone in on a moment’s notice. (Appeals can be filed if you are denied and exceptions are made for visiting government officials.) The U.S. Customs and Border Protection website offers some of the relevant guidance. The Boarder Guard has to make decisions like this every day and they operate under the same general guidelines for alien admission as are found in Sec. 212. [8 U.S.C. 1182] which sets forth a variety of reasons for denial of entry, visas, passports, etc.
(3) Security and related grounds.-
(A) In general.- Any alien who … seeks to enter the United States to engage solely, principally, or incidentally in-
(iii) any activity a purpose of which is the opposition to, or the control or overthrow of, the Government of the United States by force, violence, or other unlawful means
Coming across the border with the stated purpose of protesting the administration could well fall under the general category of opposition to the Government of the United States, particularly if they think you might engage in some rioting, but even if it didn’t that doesn’t really matter. The Border Guard is supposed to question everyone and if they don’t like your answers they don’t have to let you just cross unimpeded. There are processes in place for you to appeal their decision, but since you’re not a citizen of this country you don’t have an automatic right to pass. For that matter, you don’t have an automatic right to protest either. American citizens can lawfully protest all the live long day, but that’s because it’s our government.
So, Joseph, I guess you’re heading back to Toronto. Say hi to Lena Dunham for us.