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Wednesday, 25 January 2017 09:45

Denial of US Entry to Canadian Protesters Signals Era of Heightened Repression

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31706098183 351a70b9e2 zU.S. Customs and Border Protection Headquarters in Washington DC  (Photo: Mobilus In Mobili )

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The Guardian US, in an article following the historic Saturday march in Washington, DC, recounted the experience of a group of Canadians -- with two French nationals -- traveling in two cars to join the protest. The paper interviewed Montrealer Sasha Dyck:

Border agents first told the two French citizens that they had been denied entry to the US and informed them that any future visit to the US would now require a visa.

“Then for the rest of us, they said, ‘You’re headed home today’,” Dyck said. The group was also warned that if they tried to cross the border again during the weekend, they would be arrested. “And that was it, they didn’t give a lot of justification.”

Dyck described it as a sharp contrast to 2009, when the research nurse made the same journey to attend Barack Obama’s inauguration. “I couldn’t even get in for this one, whereas at the other one, the guy at the border literally gave me a high five when I came in and everybody was just like, ‘welcome’. The whole city was partying; nobody was there to protest Obama the first time.”

Meanwhile a January 21 CNN article recounted the experience of Canadian Joseph Decunha at a New York immigration checkpoint while driving with friends to Washington, DC, for the march:

At the second border inspection, they were asked if they were pro- or anti-Trump, Decunha said.

"We were honest and said we were anti-Trump and at that point, he engaged me directly in conversation because I assumed I was the only Canadian," he said.

Decunha elaborated as to why he didn't support Trump and talked about the Affordable Care Act and other policies he disagreed with....

Decunha was told that he was denied entry to the US.

The officer used the term "silent disruption" as the reason and Decunha said he "kept dropping it as though it was a verifiable law regulation to not let me in the country."

Add the Orwellian term "silent disruption" to the reasons a foreigner cannot enter the United States, and you have these incidents on the US-Canadian border as another chilling indicator of what is in store for civil liberties under a Trump administration.

Even a UK citizen who is studying in Canada was denied entry, according to the Guardian US:

UK national Joe Kroese said he, a Canadian and two Americans were held at the same border crossing for three hours on Thursday.

The group had travelled from Montreal, where 23-year-old Kroese is studying, and had explained to border agents that they were considering attending the Women’s March but had yet to finalize their plans.

After being questioned, fingerprinted and photographed, Kroese and his Canadian companion were refused entry because they were planning to attend what the border agent called a “potentially violent rally,” he said. The pair was advised not to travel to the United States for a few months, and Kroese was told he would now need a visa to enter the US.

What's clear is that the US Customs and Border Protection department was applying a political litmus test for entry into the United States for at least some Canadians and citizens of other nations.

This chilling development has enormous implications for freedom of expression in the US.

Indeed, the entry denials to the US this past weekend from Canada make a mockery of the national anthem's tribute "to the land of the free and the home of the brave" when it closes its borders to dissent.