Canada and the United States have a unique relationship: the two countries share the world’s longest border, are among each other’s top trading partners, and possess close cultural and historical ties. Bilateral trust between the nations has enabled a relatively free flow of goods, services and people across borders, as illustrated by Canada-U.S. preclearance measures. However, the Trump Administration has promised stricter vetting of visitors to the country, which some Canadian officials and immigration lawyers worry may infringe on Canadians’ privacy.
In May, the Canadian Press reported that Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien warned the House of Commons public safety committee that ‘recent pronouncements from the Trump administration could mean intrusive searches.’ Therrien referred in particular to comments made in February by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who said that individuals entering the United States may be asked for cellphone and social media passwords, cellphone contacts, and be quizzed about their online history. The measure would likely apply to travelers arriving in the U.S. from preclearance points in Canada.
“It would appear that Canadians who wish to enter the U.S. will, at preclearance locations in Canada as well as at border points in the U.S., have to face the difficult choice of either accepting a search without grounds or forgoing their wish to travel to the U.S.,” wrote Therrien in a letter to the public safety committee.
Preclearance rules current apply to passengers flying to U.S. cities from international airports in Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Halifax. The measure allows travelers to pass through U.S. customs before boarding their flights, and is governed by Canadian laws, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which prohibits unlawful searches. The House of Commons is currently studying legislation to expand preclearance to Toronto’s Billy Bishop airport, Quebec City’s Jean Lesage International, and rail service in Montréal and Vancouver.
Security, technology and legal experts, immigration lawyers, and human rights and civil liberties organizations have expressed concern over the U.S. government’s proposed vetting measures and approach to border policy, which has already created scenes of chaos at American airports.
If you are travelling to the United States and are concerned for your privacy or safety, consider contacting the immigration lawyers at Nanda & Associate today to learn more about evolving conditions at the American border.
You may also have already experienced trouble entering the United States – Global News wrote in May that reports of Canadians being turned away at the border have begun to surface. If you believe your rights have been infringed upon, the immigration lawyers at Nanda & Associate can help.