Quebec student shaken by U.S. border ordeal


Praxius
#1
CBC News - World - Quebec student shaken by U.S. border ordeal

Quote:

A young woman from Gatineau, Que., says she was strip-searched and stranded in Windsor, Ont., in the middle of the night by U.S. border officials.

"It was a horrible experience," said Nina Vroemen, 20, who was on her way to volunteer at a California organic farm. "There was no need for that humiliation and mistreatment of a young female Canadian volunteer."

As of Wednesday morning, U.S. immigration officials had not returned calls about the case.

Vroemen, who studies theatre at Concordia University, set off from Montreal on May 5 on a Greyhound bus. She had found the volunteer job in California through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and thought she would explore the U.S. by bus on the way there. She had previously volunteered through WWOOF in Europe.

"You can go to a farm anywhere in the world and help out," she told CBC's Ottawa Morning Wednesday. "You gain friends and experience…you travel, it's low cost and you feel good."

The bus arrived at the Windsor-Detroit border at 2 a.m., and Vroemen was interviewed about her plans by a U.S. border guard.

"He was trying to make it seem like … because I was getting room and board, that was considered being paid," Vroemen. "He told me that I was taking jobs from American citizens because I was going to help out on this community workshop."

'I watched the bus leave'

The guard asked for official documentation. She provided her WWOOF membership and password, but he said it wasn't enough, and denied her entry.

"They told me to take off all my stuff from the bus and I watched the bus leave," she recalled. "Two women came with blue latex gloves … I was just in a panic."

She was told to take off everything except her jumper and was patted down. Then she was fingerprinted and photographed.

"This photograph is me in tears," she recalled.

With that image on record, Vroemen said she is afraid to cross the border again.

Border officials ordered a taxi to send her to the Windsor bus station, even though Vroemen said it was probably closed and she had no Canadian money.

When she arrived at the station, the doors were locked, but a security guard directed her to a women's shelter. The beds were full, but she spent the night on the couch. The next morning, she managed to buy a new bus ticket and return home.

She said she doesn't think she will make another attempt to get to the volunteer job in California.

And people wonder why I have no interest in going to the US

That's just despicable.... if they put their brain cells together, looked up the information to confirm her situation and story to be true (Google it jeez, it takes like 10 seconds of their time) they'd know she was telling the truth.

Instead, it sounds like some boarder guard acting on their own paranoid prejudice and power trip.
 
petros
#2
So now even Canadians aren't good enough to grow US fascist veg?
 
lone wolf
#3
Border guards all have chips on their shoulders - sorta like mall cops
 
petros
#4
I heard a rumour that US agencies only hire those with an IQ UNDER 100 because they are easier to indoctrinate to be goons.
 
CDNBear
#5
I'm sorry, can someone point me to the problem here? The problem where all your contempt is coming from?

A WWOOF card is not ID. Trying to pass if off as such is grounds for further investigation, including a strip search. And if you think that's a stretch, think again. To top all that off, neither Canadian nor US border services are responsible for you missing your flight of bus.

Especially if you try and pass of an organizations ID card as the appropriate ID to travel abroad.
 
Icarus27k
#6
My country needs to stop with this schizo paranoid border enforcement crap. It makes the officials and the politicians that ordered them to secure the borders look like raving maniacs.
 
Icarus27k
#7
Nothing threatens US national security enough that the borders have to be the Berlin Wall. It's completely absurd.
 
Machjo
#8
According to US law, if you have a valid Canadian passport, which she did, you are allowed to enter the US as long as you're not on any kind of black list of course.

Now of course entering the US is different from volunteering and I don't know the laws on that. It was her responsibility to find out the laws first before heading out. Now if it turns out she had the right to enter, then there could be a case, but I'd have to know first if she was allowed to volunteer in the US and what US law says about that and how it defines paid work, etc.

As for the border guard telling he she was taking work away from American citizens, he was way out of line. To refuse her entry is one thing; to be invoking nationalism as his reason is insulting.

All this being said, I hope:

1. Canadian border guards treat all who cross with respect while operating strictly within the confines of the law, and
2. that the Canadian Federal Government not engage in silly games of tit for tat with the US. That would just make us look as ridiculous.
 
CDNBear
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

According to US law, if you have a valid Canadian passport, which she did, you are allowed to enter the US as long as you're not on any kind of black list of course.

Really? Where does it say that in the article?

It states she attempted to use her WWOOF ID card as an official ID, and nothing more.

Quote:

As for the border guard telling he she was taking work away from American citizens, he was way out of line. To refuse her entry is one thing; to be invoking nationalism as his reason is insulting.

I'll have to agree with you there.
 
Machjo
#10
from the article:

"She provided her passport and WWOOF membership, but he said it wasn't enough, and denied her entry."

So she did provide her passport. But again, a passport only allows you entry, I believe for tourism, transit, etc. and I believe if I'm not mistaken, only for a limited duration at a time.

Since she was going to volunteer, there may have been other laws at play here. Again, I d not know if that border guard violated any rule in disallowing her entry, though his obvious prejudices certainly do not help his case.

I hope Canadian border guards are trained to be courteous and respectful and knowledgeable of the applicable Canadian laws, and that when a person has the proper documents to enter the country, and there is no other legal reason to deny entry, that entry be allowed.
 
Machjo
#11
A border guard, as a civil servant, ought to allow or deny entry according to strict legal criteria, and never on a whim. he is not the government, nor the people. His job is to carry out the wishes of the people as expressed through the laws established the Government.

Again, there may have been a valid legal reason unknown to me for that border guard to have denied her entry, and that's fair enough. However, his obvious prejudices do make it quite legitimate for us to question if that is indeed the case or if he was a rogue border guard.
 
CDNBear
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

from the article:

"She provided her passport and WWOOF membership, but he said it wasn't enough, and denied her entry."

It actually says...

Quote:

The guard asked for official documentation. She provided her WWOOF membership and password , but he said it wasn't enough, and denied her entry.

My bad, the article in the OP, says password. The link states otherwise. My humblest apologies.

Quote:

So she did provide her passport. But again, a passport only allows you entry, I believe for tourism, transit, etc. and I believe if I'm not mistaken, only for a limited duration at a time.

You need a B1 Visa as far as I know.
 
#juan
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

I'm sorry, can someone point me to the problem here? The problem where all your contempt is coming from?

A WWOOF card is not ID. Trying to pass if off as such is grounds for further investigation, including a strip search. And if you think that's a stretch, think again. To top all that off, neither Canadian nor US border services are responsible for you missing your flight of bus.

Especially if you try and pass of an organizations ID card as the appropriate ID to travel abroad.

Contempt arises when people can't read. She provided her passport and her WWOOF card. The US border service is certainly responsible when then held up this woman for no legal reason. She had all the required I.D.
 
CDNBear
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by #juan View Post

Contempt arises when people can't read.



Speaking of can't read...

Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

It actually says...

My bad, the article in the OP, says password. The link states otherwise. My humblest apologies.

You need a B1 Visa as far as I know.

Quote: Originally Posted by #juan View Post

She provided her passport and her WWOOF card. The US border service is certainly responsible when then held up this woman for no legal reason. She had all the required I.D .

You know that for a fact?

Since I'm pretty damned sure you need a B1 Visa to do any volunteer work in the US, and there's no mention of it in the article. Do you think you might be jumping the gun a little?
 
Machjo
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by #juan View Post

Contempt arises when people can't read. She provided her passport and her WWOOF card. The US border service is certainly responsible when then held up this woman for no legal reason. She had all the required I.D.

I agree that the article clearly says she had her passport. From the sounds of it the border guard denied her entry because she was going to volunteer. I do not know the legal details for that, and so do not know if he had valid reason to deny entry. If you know for sure he had no valid reason, fair enough. But it was the things he'd said to her that were totally out of line regardless of whether he had a right to deny her entry. It's not up to him to offer his opinion. He should have laid out to her precisely what law he was denying her access for. She'd have a right to that at least so that she could remedy the situation.
 
Machjo
#16
I'd say the same for someone entering Canada by the way. Though we can deny him entry, we also have an obligation to inform him of the specific law for which we are denying him entry so that he can remedy the situation later if needs be. After all the trouble a person goes through to get to the border that's the least they can expect.
 
CDNBear
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

I agree that the article clearly says she had her passport.

Not the article quoted in the OP.
 
CDNBear
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

I'd say the same for someone entering Canada by the way. Though we can deny him entry, we also have an obligation to inform him of the specific law for which we are denying him entry so that he can remedy the situation later if needs be. After all the trouble a person goes through to get to the border that's the least they can expect.

Actually no we don't. We can deny entry, full stop.
 
Avro
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post



Speaking of can't read...



You know that for a fact?

Since I'm pretty damned sure you need a B1 Visa to do any volunteer work in the US, and there's no mention of it in the article. Do you think you might be jumping the gun a little?

Do you still agree with the treatment she recieved?
 
#juan
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post



Speaking of can't read...



You know that for a fact?

Since I'm pretty damned sure you need a B1 Visa to do any volunteer work in the US, and there's no mention of it in the article. Do you think you might be jumping the gun a little?

The U.S. Visa Waiver Program requires visitors from various countries to have Machine Readable Passports to enter the U.S. Canadian citizens are exempt from this program. This requirement does not apply to Canadians even if the passport is issued abroad.
 
Machjo
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

Actually no we don't. We can deny entry, full stop.

I didn't mean in a legal sense here, but rather as a matter of respect.
 
Machjo
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post


Since I'm pretty damned sure you need a B1 Visa to do any volunteer work in the US, and there's no mention of it in the article. Do you think you might be jumping the gun a little?

That might be the reason she was denied entry. A valid Canadian passport allows you to set foot on US soil, but that's it. She was not going as a tourist but to volunteer, and that might be the issue there.

But honestly, would it have been so difficult for the border guard to say:

"Miss, you need a B1 visa to volunteer in the US, and since your stated purpose for entering the is to volunteer, I have no choice but to see your valid B1 visa before I can allow you entry."

Yes she may have had a fit, but still that would have been well within the guard's mandate, and he could have advised the address of the nearest US consulate, most likely in Toronto, and at least expressed some empathy for her plight and his inability to allow her entry. Compare that to:

"Yeah, you bloody Canadians are taking all our good volunteer jobs. Do you know how many people in our country would kill for room and board in exchange for work. Go back home."

Of course I'm exaggerating his response in the article, but you need to consider that these guys represent their country. What kind of image do you think he gives of his country if he can't even give a valid legal reason to deny her entry and show a little human compassion for her plight?
 
Machjo
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by #juan View Post

The U.S. Visa Waiver Program requires visitors from various countries to have Machine Readable Passports to enter the U.S. Canadian citizens are exempt from this program. This requirement does not apply to Canadians even if the passport is issued abroad.

A valid Canadian passport allows her to set to travel to the US, not do what she wants. There are also ineligibility criteria such as drunk driving or other criminal records. Though granted the article mentions nothing of that.

As for volunteering, it seems to be a grey area:

Canadians who require U.S. visas

It really depends on whether volunteering is classified as employment I suppose. But if in doubt, she should have found out directly from the embassy and that way at the border she could have challenged the border guard (in a friendly and respectful tone of course) to contact the US embassy or wherever he confirms these laws to see for himself, in which case he'd apologize for the error on his part and she'd be on her merry way.
 
CDNBear
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by #juan View Post

The U.S. Visa Waiver Program requires visitors from various countries to have Machine Readable Passports to enter the U.S. Canadian citizens are exempt from this program. This requirement does not apply to Canadians even if the passport is issued abroad.

Your link doesn't work, but I suspect that because you know it's BS. You may want to track that wiki article back to the source so you can see where you went wrong. Although I think you'll likely get hung up on the wording involved.


Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

I didn't mean in a legal sense here, but rather as a matter of respect.

There are no laws regarding respect. Behavior is an internal matter for ones employer to handle.

Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

That might be the reason she was denied entry. A valid Canadian passport allows you to set foot on US soil, but that's it. She was not going as a tourist but to volunteer, and that might be the issue there.

There are exemptions as juan tried to indicate. But as a member of an international organization, the matter changes.

Quote:

But honestly, would it have been so difficult for the border guard to say:

"Miss, you need a B1 visa to volunteer in the US, and since your stated purpose for entering the is to volunteer, I have no choice but to see your valid B1 visa before I can allow you entry."

Nope, not at all.
Quote:

Yes she may have had a fit, but still that would have been well within the guard's mandate, and he could have advised the address of the nearest US consulate, most likely in Toronto, and at least expressed some empathy for her plight and his inability to allow her entry. Compare that to:

"Yeah, you bloody Canadians are taking all our good volunteer jobs. Do you know how many people in our country would kill for room and board in exchange for work. Go back home."

But we don't know what she did, when informed she was going to be denied. Not that that negates the inappropriateness of his opinions. But over the years I've learned, when dealing with people who can cause you to be legally stripped searched, and have cavities probed. Discretion is always the better part of valour.

Quote:

Of course I'm exaggerating his response in the article, but you need to consider that these guys represent their country.

I understood that and I agree, to some extent.
Quote:

What kind of image do you think he gives of his country if he can't even give a valid legal reason to deny her entry and show a little human compassion for her plight?

We don't know he didn't. We only have half the story.
 
CDNBear
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

A valid Canadian passport allows her to set to travel to the US, not do what she wants. There are also ineligibility criteria such as drunk driving or other criminal records. Though granted the article mentions nothing of that.

As for volunteering, it seems to be a grey area:

Canadians who require U.S. visas

It's not really grey.
Quote:

It really depends on whether volunteering is classified as employment I suppose.

It is isn't, it is classified as "work". You are considered an employee of an international organization, if you are acting or working under there guidance.
 
petros
#26
This clears up this thread:

Quote:

B-1 NON-IMMIGRANT VISA FOR VOLUNTEER SERVICE

Quote:


How to apply for a B-1 visa for Volunteer Service:

Appointments may be scheduled by calling our Visa Information Service at
0900-1-850055 ( 1.86/min., Monday – Friday 7am – 8pm) or online at: www.usvisa-germany.com ($10, credit card required). Applicants for visitor visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.

The purpose of this visa is service to one’s neighbour and community. The validity of the visa may not exceed one year.
At the time of your personal interview the following documents must be submitted
:

-- a
passport valid for at least the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States for German citizens; for certain other nationalities, the passport must be valid 6 months beyond the departure date);
-- the
DS-156 Electronic Visa Application Form (EVAF) must be completed for each applicant, regardless of age, online, and can be accessed at Electronic Visa Application Forms - Instructions Page ;
-- a
form DS-157 ( Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application), to be filled out by all male nonimmigrant visa applicants between the ages of 16 and 45;
-- one
photograph taken within the past 6 months , for each applicant, including children (size: 5x5cm, white background, directly facing the camera, both ears visible);
-- evidence of your
intention to leave the U.S. after a temporary stay;
-- evidence of having paid by bank transfer
(Überweisung) the non-refundable application fee of $100 for each application. The visa application fee must be paid on-line via Roskos & Meier: www.visasystem.de . If you do not have internet access, payment of the visa application fee can be made to the Embassy account at Dresdner Bank AG Berlin, Bankleitzahl 120 800 00, account number 40 512 576 00. The visa application fee must be paid in Euros – to obtain the current Euro amount required please check one of the following websites:

Roskos & Meier OHG | Visa Application Fee | Visa Deposit Slips
or [Obsolete] - Visa Processing Fee

The original receipt from the bank must be submitted with each application as proof of payment; cash will not be accepted;
-- a self-addressed, stamped
envelope large enough for your passport and all submitted documents ( regular mail, please).

FRN-NIV-02 07/2007 FRN-NIV-02 07/2007
These additional documents should also be presented on the date of your visa interview:
A precise description of the program in which you wish to participate and proof of their non-profit status;
A letter from the organization stating the volunteer’s name and date and place of birth; the foreign permanent residence address, the name and address of initial destination in the United States; and anticipated duration of stay. If visa is approved, this will be stapled in your passport for the Immigration Officer at the Port of Entry.);
Evidence of financing for this trip: (Savings; funds from parents; allowance, etc.);
Evidence of your plans upon completion of the volunteer service (Studienplatz, zukünftige Arbeitsstelle, etc.).
B-1 Visa for Volunteer Service (except from Foreign Affairs Manual)
9 FAM 41.31, N9.1-5 - participants in Voluntary Service Programs
a. Aliens participating in a voluntary service program benefiting U.S. local communities, who establish that they are members of, and have a commitment to, a particular recognized religious or non-profit charitable organization. No salary or remuneration shall be paid from a U.S. source, other than an allowance or other reimbursement for expenses incidental to the volunteer’s stay in the United States.
b. A "voluntary service program" is an organized project conducted by a recognized religious or non-profit charitable organization to provide assistance to the poor or the needy or to further a religious or charitable cause. The program may not, however, involve the selling of articles and/or the solicitation and acceptance of donations. The burden that the voluntary program meets the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) definition of "voluntary service program" is placed upon the recognized religious or non-profit charitable organization, which must also meet other criteria set out in the DHS Operating Instructions with regard to voluntary workers.
c. The consular officer must ensure that the written statement issued by the sponsoring organization is attached to the passport containing the visa for presentation to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officer at the port of entry. The written statement will be furnished by the alien participating in a service program sponsored by the religious or non-profit charitable organization and must contain DHS required information such as the:
• The volunteer’s name and date and place of birth;
• Volunteer’s foreign permanent residence address;
• Name and address of initial destination in the United States; and
• Volunteer’s anticipated duration of assignment.

 
DurkaDurka
#27
Border Guards are pricks, regardless if they are Canadian or American it seems.

http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/...d-doesn-t-work


A friend of mine travels to the US for work regularly and claims that border guards have been quite vigilant of late in ensuring that you are not "stealing US jobs". So he ends up having to show a Visa, letter from the contractor, bills etc everytime he crosses.
 
petros
#28
Quote:

Border Guards are pricks, regardless if they are Canadian or American it seems.

Some aren't that bright either. I had one confuse my NRCan I.D. as some sort of narcotics officer I.D. and was moved to the front of the line and walked right through airport security without any hassles.
 
Machjo
#29
Quote: Originally Posted by DurkaDurka View Post

Border Guards are pricks, regardless if they are Canadian or American it seems.

Border rudeness: Maybe the jerk method doesn?t work - thestar.com


A friend of mine travels to the US for work regularly and claims that border guards have been quite vigilant of late in ensuring that you are not "stealing US jobs". So he ends up having to show a Visa, letter from the contractor, bills etc everytime he crosses.

That's fair enough as long as the border guards let him in if they have no valid grounds to refuse him entry. To ask for id is perfectly reasonable. It's just the attitude that comes with it sometimes.
 
CDNBear
#30
Quote: Originally Posted by DurkaDurka View Post

Border Guards are pricks, regardless if they are Canadian or American it seems.

Border rudeness: Maybe the jerk method doesn?t work - thestar.com


A friend of mine travels to the US for work regularly and claims that border guards have been quite vigilant of late in ensuring that you are not "stealing US jobs". So he ends up having to show a Visa, letter from the contractor, bills etc everytime he crosses.

You know I hear this a lot. Right along side the whole Cops and CO"s are dicks too.

I will agree that they can be ignorant, but if you help escalate the situation, you're going to lose in the short term. Sure, some point down the road you might be vindicated, but why put yourself through the misery.

And Durka, I can totally relate to your friend. Which of course punches more holes in juan's post.