After finding out that they intended to attend the Women’s March on Washington, U.S. border guards harassed and denied entry to Canadian, British, and French citizens.
The Guardian is reporting that, over the inaugural weekend, people were being stopped and turned away from crossing the U.S./Canadian border because they were headed to Washington, D.C. for the big Women’s March.
Sasha Dyck, a research nurse from Montreal, was one of eight people traveling together to the march. The group of six Canadians and two French nationals were separated in two different cars. When they attempted to cross the border where St Bernard de Lacolle in Quebec connects with Champlain, New York on Thursday, they were harassed and denied entry after telling the guards where they were headed.
Dyck said they told the border guards they were going to the march right up front.
“We said we were going to the women’s march on Saturday and they said, ‘Well, you’re going to have to pull over’.”
The group was held for two hours while the guards searched their cars and examined their cell phones. All eight of them were also fingerprinted and photographed.
The border agents then told the two French citizens that they were denied entry. And they informed them that if they tried to cross the border again they must have visas.
“Then for the rest of us, they said, ‘You’re headed home today’.”
The guards then warned the group that if they attempted to cross the border again over the weekend they would be arrested. “And that was it, they didn’t give a lot of justification.”
Dyck said that she attended Obama’s 2009 inauguration and had no trouble at all crossing the border.
“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.”
Also on Thursday another group of two Americans, a Canadian, and a U.K. national were traveling from Montreal and were stopped at that same border crossing. And again after telling the guards that they were going to the Women’s March they were harassed.
Like the first group, they spent three hours being questioned, fingerprinted, and photographed. And then they were denied entry.
The UK national Joe Kroese, said the group was told that they were being denied because they were trying to go to a “potentially violent rally.” And then they were told that they couldn’t come back and cross the border for several months. And when they did they would need visas.
The Guardian reported another instance of the same treatment.
“After an attempted crossing late Thursday, Montreal resident Joseph Decunha said he was also turned away. He and the two Americans he was with told the border agent that they were planning to attend the inauguration and the women’s march.
The group was brought in for secondary processing, where the border agent asked about their political views, Decunha told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “The first thing he asked us point blank is, ‘Are you anti- or pro-Trump?’”
This group was also fingerprinted and photographed. And then Decunha said,
“They told me I was being denied entry for administrative reasons. According to the agent, my travelling to the United States for the purpose of protesting didn’t constitute a valid reason to cross. It felt like, if we had been pro-Trump, we would have absolutely been allowed entry.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection responded to questions about the incidents saying,
“We recognize that there is an important balance to strike between securing our borders while facilitating the high volume of legitimate trade and travel that crosses our borders every day, and we strive to achieve that balance and show the world that the United States is a welcoming nation.”