The good news is the US border guards didn't care about my Canadian passport.
The bad news is the US border guards didn't care about my Canadian passport.
Several people had warned me that as a dual Canadian-US citizen, I could be hassled, denied entry or - as one person put it - "face certain criminal prosecution" for entering the US without a US passport. I know many dual citizens who hold only Canadian passports, and who regularly travel back and forth to the US without the slightest hitch, so I knew this wasn't true. I understand it may technically be true, a law on the books, but it's obviously not enforced in any way.
The only unanswered question was whether my troubles at the border would continue - whether, without my US passport to scan, if I would be flagged. That question has now been definitively answered. Border hassles are now a way of life.
The border guard saw the US birthplace on our passports, typed in our names, and we were off to the races: surrender the keys, escort into the building, the long wait, the questions they already know the answers to. This one took about an hour and 15 minutes.
Once we were cleared, Allan asked the guard returning our passports, "Can you tell us why we were brought in here?"
The guard was clearly uncomfortable with the question. "Don't you know?"
We both said, "We have no idea. No one ever tells us anything. We just come in, answer questions, and they let us go."
Guard: "Have you ever been in trouble?"
Us: "No, never."
Guard: "I'm not at liberty to tell you." He said he could give us a paper explaining how to apply for more information. We said we'd like that, and he went off to get it. When he returned, he was downright chatty. "Here's the information, you fill this out, and you will get a response. I'm sorry, I'm not at liberty to tell you more, but you can apply here, and they will respond. . . . "
Yeah thanks have a nice day.
So. I am flagged with the US state department, and that is that.
* * * *
We had dinner with our friends Bruce and Mary and Russell, great peace activists from Buffalo, then stayed up til all hours talking. Bruce Beyer is kind of a legendary figure in the peace movement, a Vietnam draft resister who turned in his draft card, lived in Sweden and then Toronto, returned to the US without amnesty, and continues to work tirelessly for peace and on behalf of military resisters. Bruce is a mainstay of the War Resisters Support Campaign. And becoming friends with him is one of my favourite benefits of this blog.
We had a really good time last night, and we're now groggy and sleep-deprived. (Those things often go together, eh.) Now we're in JFK Airport with about a five-hour wait for our flight to Oakland, equipped with music, netbook and plenty of reading material.
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