U.S./Canadian Dispute over Border Crossing Procedures


The main sticking point was Homeland’s unwillingness to accept Canada’s legal problem with having U.S. authorities take fingerprints of people who approach the border but decide not to cross.

Canadian law doesn’t permit fingerprinting unless someone volunteers or has been charged with a crime.

Canada’s assurances that it would co-operate in investigating any suspicious person who approaches the border weren’t enough, said one Capitol Hill source.

“The Attorney General’s office really just wants to grab as much biometric information as it can,” said the source.

Posted on May 6, 2007 at 12:35 PM71 Comments


Michael May 6, 2007 12:53 PM

Here’s another one.

You fly to / in the US and they force you to take your shoes and belts off. But that’s it, once you’re through nobody cares who you are.

Take Canada, keep your shoes, keep your belt (even if it trips the metal detector) but you want to get on board? Have your ID ready.

I have to get into the US regularly via airline (the idea to make the trip in the car / bus has become uninteresting to me since paranoia has kicked into high gear), and the clear message (louder and louder every time I step up to Immigration officials) is: We don’t WANT you here.

Across the Big Pond May 6, 2007 1:02 PM

Although the manner in which Homeland Security have acted appears to be rude and undiplomatic, surely they are within their rights to apply whatever security rules they think are appropriate to their national border?

I have long suspected that the Canadian border is the easiest barrier to overcome if you wish to illegaly enter the USA. Obviously, if you go through customs then you play by USA border guards rules but can anybody comment on how well the entire length of the border is protected?

As long as border controls treat travellers like criminals, I do not intend to travel abroad; for me personally, the idea of being fingerprinted is demeaning. I’m not just talking about the USA in this respect.

Geoff Lane May 6, 2007 2:13 PM

Here is an ideal chance for Canadian freedom fighters to perform a wonderful DOS on US border staff.

All you need is a couple of hundred people to walk up to but not cross the border at five minute intervals. With care you should be able to screw up the border crossing for a day or two.

Unix Ronin May 6, 2007 2:51 PM

It’s interesting to ponder how the US would be likely to respond should Mexico (for example) suddenly demand that US citizens who approach the Mexican border, then turn around while still on US soil and never actually cross the border, be fingerprinted by Mexico. I strongly suspect the US position would be something like “They’re US citizens on US soil, so you know where you can shove your silly-ass fingerprinting requirement.”

Richard May 6, 2007 2:57 PM

AS long as the US keeps this stupid rule of photographing and fingerprinting, I will not come to the US.

I’m a Canadian living in France, and I have friends in the States, but I won’t visit them until these useless practices changes.

On the subject of the border, it is the longest border between 2 countries in the world. At some point, there is two roads parallel on both side of the border which doesn’t have any barrier. It is not uncommon to see tire tracks in the grass going from one road to the other …

At some other border crossing, there is no one manning the border. Actually, there is nothing apart from a indication that your crossing the border, no one, nothing. A bit like when you cross between two states un the US !



Mark May 6, 2007 4:03 PM

How hard is this really to sort out? They just need 2 queues the pre-clearance queue where you ‘volunteer’ to be fingerprinted, and the other queue where you wait till the border and then get fingerprinted – I think looking at the 2 queues people will ‘volunteer’ a lot. It would appear that it is a typical beauraucratic approach. If a business is run this way it’d be bankrupt. There appears to be a lack of willingness to make it work rather than any real difficulty here.

Gerg May 6, 2007 5:33 PM

can anybody comment on how well the entire length of the border is protected?

Most of it isn’t protected at all. Hell, most of it isn’t even marked. Some border crossings consist of an unmanned phone booth, others don’t even have the phone booth.

But is this surprising? How well protected is the Vermont-New Hampshire border?

Ralph May 6, 2007 6:36 PM


Well if this had anything to do with securty that might be a question worth asking.

Most American acts of terror are home grown anyway – so enjoy!

anonymouse May 6, 2007 7:33 PM


The water borders are the least-protected of all (check-in with customs and immigration is along the lines of “please call us when you get to port”), and easy to traverse if one has access to $$ (and hence a boat).

I guess the real threat is from middle-class Canadians, not terrorists.

Bill P. May 6, 2007 9:26 PM

Welcome to the new United States. You are now guilty until proven innocent, where a police state raveling the USSR is in effect and the government has become the ultimate terrorist. Since the majority of our citizens are terrorized, cowered and apathetic about our government, it will become worse. Our only hope may be how the rest of the free world reacts.
Fingerprinting? Blah! Wait until they start chipping visitors!

ryanobjc May 6, 2007 11:31 PM

I’m not really surprised by this evolution in the talks. The US consistently disrespects Canadian and treaty law. The softwood lumber agreement is a sticking point among many Canadians, yet most Americans haven’t heard of it.

The fingerprint law seems like a really good one. I don’t think the Canadian negotiators will back down, congrats to them. They are standing on good legal ground too.

Aviatrix May 7, 2007 12:32 AM

I find it disturbing that the US compels people there to be fingerprinted if they haven’t been charged with a crime. They certainly should not be permitted to fingerprint people who have neither volunteered nor entered their country.

RyanObjc makes an excellent point. The US doesn’t respect other countries’ laws or international agreements and expects its laws to apply elsewhere.

Kaukomieli May 7, 2007 2:07 AM

@Across the Big Pond and your post:
“Although the manner in which Homeland Security have acted appears to be rude and undiplomatic, surely they are within their rights to apply whatever security rules they think are appropriate to their national border?”

They surely are within their rights as soon as people have chosen to cross into US-american territory. Until then people are on canadian territory, where US-rights do not apply.
This seems to be difficult to understand for some US-people (same in the piratebay-case, which is based in sweden and is legal there…), but:
your laws do not apply in the rest of the world. As soon as something is not on US-soil you have to send troops if you want stuff done your way.

@richard: As long as it ain’t a business-trip I avoid flying to the US, too. Since most things can be resolved via phone/video-conference the need to deal with this facist-methods on a 1v1 basis fortunately approaches zero.

Paul May 7, 2007 3:01 AM

I have an idea…

How about the DHS takes the ludicrous budget they have and build an appropriately sized panic room/community/city somewhere in the middle of the desert.

Then, the good folks of the US can vote with their feet and all those who want to act like scared little kids can undergo whatever ridiculous “security” measures the DHS wants to impose for entry into the secure microcosm.

They can arm it with as much firepower as they like to keep the “bad guys” out and be perfectly happy in the knowledge that they are safe from the bogey man.

Then everyone else in the US (and I know you’re not all insane, in fact I know some very sensible folks from that part of the world) can get on with rebuilding what was once a great nation and could be so much better if the morons in charge would get over it and get on with it.

/me shakes head in dismay…

Nostromo May 7, 2007 4:00 AM

@Across the big pond:
“As long as border controls treat travellers like criminals, I do not intend to travel abroad; for me personally, the idea of being fingerprinted is demeaning. I’m not just talking about the USA in this respect.”
It pretty much is just the USA, and the countries of the former Soviet Union, which treat travellers like criminals. Most countries just check your passport and inspect a sample of baggage for prohibited/dutiable items. (Some charge you a nominal amount, $10 to $20, as arrival/departure/entry tax). I don’t understand why anyone would travel to the USA nowadays unless they absolutely have to for business or legal reasons. It’s not just a matter of being treated like a criminal by Immigration; don’t forget that the Bush administration has decided it has the legal right to make non-US citizens disappear. As a foreigner in the USA you can be imprisoned and held indefinitely without being allowed to communicate with anyone except the people who are imprisoning you. It is unlikely, but more likely than other events which people worry about more, like a plane crash, and the consequences are about as bad.

Richard Braakman May 7, 2007 5:40 AM

Note that “take fingerprints of people who approach the border but decide not to cross” is a bit of a euphemism. It would mean giving U.S. agents the authority to arrest and detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil.

And what if people “decide not to cross” by hightailing it out of there? Surely that’s suspicious. Will the U.S. pursue? How far into Canada?

I think this is one genie that is best left in its bottle.

BobSmith May 7, 2007 6:06 AM

With respect to finger print capturing and I guess eventually a system will be used to identify a suspect automatically. What happen to those who fingerprints are so damn difficult that they cannot be matched by systems in various countries. Mine failed the HK system and I have to use manual method. Last time I visited US, the border control had a greet deal of difficulties capturing it. I bet the system would have far more trouble matching mine. Needless to say I cannot use any finger print recognizers on laptops & mouse.

A Nonny Mouse May 7, 2007 6:26 AM


Since the 1980s, the US government has
consistently claimed that some of its
laws do apply worldwide. It started
with terrorism and drugs, and has
expanded. The Bush Administration has
taken it to new lengths, but every
President since Reagan has enforced
some US laws as if they applied
to the whole world. Many other countries
have essentially given into this.

greg May 7, 2007 7:09 AM

@A Nonny Mouse

I don’t think the words “given into this” quite conveys what really happens…..

But the US biggest bargining chip is getting smaller and smaller.

Trade. US is not a very fair trade partner, however nobody shops like americans. Most bigger companies outside the US find the US to be a very lurative. The threat of tarrifs was rather effective.

But not so much anymore, with the rise of china india and the growing base that is the EU. Quite a lot of countries are finding there exports are more deversified. I expect this trend to continue. (I do realize there are some exceptions, but again the number are going down.)

greg May 7, 2007 7:20 AM


I expect there is more to that stroy than meets the eye. Esp since he pleaded guilty. In NZ they tried to get them extradited to the US because of the tougher penetlys and most importantly to scare other “hackers”.

In NZ he was looking at about 5000 fine at most. He did about 500,000 worth of damage. In the US it was more like 50K + damages….

David (Toronto) May 7, 2007 7:40 AM

What are the limits to this extra territoriality?

Assume that you go with the two queue/zone approach complete with signs, in both of Canada’s official lanuguages, warning that by crossing the line you may be arrested and/or fingerprinted.

At this point what do you do about the people that approach and retreat from the second line? Hmmm.

What about folks who geneuinely turn down the wrong road? Easy to do along our border if you’re out in the country.

If I use a homeowner analogy. I don’t have any major problems with the homeonwer photographing flybys. But the notion of running out and fingerprinting balks/flybys is absurd.

There are so many ways that this is just wrong.

Rusty May 7, 2007 9:26 AM


You say “s a foreigner in the USA you can be imprisoned and held indefinitely without being allowed to communicate with anyone except the people who are imprisoning you. It is unlikely…”

Not that unlikely – Ask Mr. Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen that was transiting through an airport in the USA on his way home from an overseas vacation, and suddenly found himself renditioned (sp?) to a Syrian prison and tortured for a year by your ‘government’

As long as the US continues down it’s current path, there won’t be any fussing about borders because it will be the Canadians and Mexicans building fences to keep you loonies in.


Across the Big Pond May 7, 2007 9:29 AM


“They surely are within their rights as soon as people have chosen to cross into US-american territory.”

Yes you are right. I misread the article on the first read. I cannot understand why they think they should fingerprint people in another country. I wonder what happens if you get close to the border then refuse to co-operate?


“It pretty much is just the USA, and the countries of the former Soviet Union, which treat travellers like criminals.”

Unfortunately, I have to say that I think the UK, where I come from, is even worse (the ‘Pond’ in my pseudonym refers to the Atlantic Ocean). Anybody crossing a national border these days is expected to give up some of their privacy and dignity.

Arch Whorl May 7, 2007 10:27 AM

As if having someone’s fingerprints will either identify all potential attackers or somehow dissuade them from future attacks.

greg May 7, 2007 10:57 AM

With such a big database, what are the chances of colisions? I know that DNA does not work very well for such large database at this stage.

I also know that there are several papers that demistrate iris scans can be colisonless on a gloabal scale.

What resolution are the photos that they take at the boarders? (at the airports thay take a photo as well as fingerprints)

Tony H. May 7, 2007 3:26 PM

There seems to be a little confusion here…
First, most people (US and Canadian citizens) crossing the Canada->US border are not fingerprinted as a matter of law and policy. Routine fingerprinting would apply to those citizens of certain other countries either living in or visiting Canada who want to enter the US. Unless… a Canadian or US citizen approaches the border, and decides to turn back at the last moment.

Second, the situation is already there at Canadian airports where the US has pre-clearance. There is specific federal (Canadian) legislation in place to deal with this – the 1999 Preclearance Act
and it makes no distinction between air and land crossing. This was passed under US pressure, and comes as close to being unconstitutional as possible without (perhaps?) quite crossing the line, in that it confers certain police-like powers on US officers operating in Canada. In particular, it makes it a Canadian crime to lie to a US officer, though it does allow you to refuse to answer any question, and provides that such refusal is not itself grounds for suspicion. Yeah, sure…

On the matter of US extraterritoriality, the Preclearance Act allows (but does not require) the Canadian government to restrict any immunity or privileges granted, if the US does not offer reciprocity to Canada. So in theory if Canada decided to set up preclearance points in the US, the US would have to allow Canadian officers the same rights (strip searches…) over US citizens seeking to enter Canada. Regardless, the US has always claimed that some of its law applies to other countries, despite what the rest of the world may think. That ain’t gonna change any time soon.

imarsman May 7, 2007 4:42 PM

I am deeply suspicious of any government’s actions aimed at gathering information. The tendency seems always to gather more and more but seems never to be matched by new laws that would send politicians and government officials to jail for abusing this information. We all need a civics lesson.

posedge clk May 7, 2007 8:31 PM

Dumb question: what’s the point of land pre-clearance?

I live in Canada, I travel to the U.S. by air, and the advantages of airport pre-clearance are obvious: airlines don’t worry about passengers being refused entry upon arrival, and passengers don’t worry about missing a connection due to customs.

But what’s the difference between pre-clearing customs in Canada, and clearing U.S. customs the normal way at the other end of the bridge 1000 feet away? Surely it’s not just to save me the bridge toll?

Steve Jones May 8, 2007 3:14 AM

I don’t have any problem with the US, or any other country, protecting their own borders. However, forced fingerprinting people who don’t enter the US seems pretty outrageous, especially considering that most of the border is not manned. It is obviously some kind of security theatre.

Regarding the photographing and fingerprinting at points of entry, my sister-in-law has had a bad experience. When her family went to the US (from UK) on vacation they were all photographed and fingerprinted, and thought nothing of it. Recently, they went to the US for another vacation and she was lead away at the airport to an interview room. Her husband and child were told nothing about what was wrong.

It turns out that the previous time they came into the US, the idiot at the airport took the fingerprints and photo of her husband and attached them to her passport. So, of course, when she presented her passport a photo of her husband came up.

Now, you would think that such a simple mistake could be rectified. However, this is not possible. She was told that it was not possible to delete the incorrect information and that every time she tried to enter the US from now on, she would be marched off to the interview room and told to explain herself.

Even more crazy is the fact that the computer system in the interview room allows the officer to scroll down and see that there is another photo and fingerprint (her own, i.e. the correct one) below her husband’s details. Sadly, the guys outside at passport control don’t have the scrollbar option, so there is no way for them to be able to see the correct information.

Now, she is a very reasonable person and even accepted this debacle as just one of those things, but to me the whole thing seems ridiculous. The fact that everyone knows the data is wrong, but nobody has the authority to change it is pathetic and it is hard to see how any of this makes the citizens of the US any safer.

Nick from UK May 9, 2007 9:58 AM

this is a serious business – true the US thinks it can do what it wants in any country and the DHS is perceived by many as Bush’s new Gestapo . Be careful near border on Canadien side as yanks think that they can cross it and snatch you if you are contemplating crossing illegally…even tho’ they have no legal right to do this whatsoever. Being apprehended results in being incarcerated in a Boston detentioin facility indefinitely, you are given no trelease date, some inmates have been there for over a year last I knew and release/deportation is arbitrary. You are bullied and assaulted in there, (I know because I was held there after being illegal for 12 years in US) the yanks strut around in there ordering people around like real little Hitlers, (as we say in the UK), even telling you were to sit. It was three weeks before anyone knew where I was!!! I see the Americans as barbarians now and a threat to the stability of the world and agree with previous comments that Canada and Mexico should build a fence to keep the yanks contained, they’re nuts and out of control, and liars as well for that matter.
Good luck, don’t get apprehended near the border you’ll dissappear.

Cameron May 10, 2007 8:34 PM

So I only have one question for the US DHS… Being Canadian, I would just like to know how much warning you are willing to give us when you decide to build the 20 foot concrete wall along the boarder? I mean, honestly, it worked in Germany till those crazy freedom people wanted it torn down and in China it is still working. Do you guys remember the USSR? That whole “papers” thing, well that didn’t work cause look where they are now. All I ask is, can we at least have a day so we can say bye to our friends before it is impossible to get in (or out)?

John May 13, 2007 1:42 PM

U.S. is randomly kidnaps innocent people and put them in secret torture prisons or just simply murder them. Even without allegations, they will collect your fingerprint and wiretap your Internet traffic plus all telephone activity, including the position of your cell phone.

This is why I don’t visit the U.S. anymore – the security risk is simply too big. The fact that I am innocent does not seem to be enough anymore.

Annoyned May 23, 2007 2:14 AM

US border control (esp. on land between US and Canada) is just plain rude and uncivilized to visitors. They certainly don’t want you to be in their country and they treat you like they have every right to know anything about your life when you only go visit there for a week. I hope two things will happen: Let the rest of the world subject all US passport holders going aboard with “special, tedious and rude” greeting without fail. They certain deserve it. Second thing, these arrogant Americans may learn a thing or two from other countries practice in border control service (it’s actually a customer service) to see how stupid and uncivilized USA really is. In the meantime, avoid going USA and tell all Americans you come across how aweful their government really is.

Bob Roberts May 24, 2007 8:48 PM

The US’s position of power in the world slips daily. If Canada joined the EU, shut our borders, turned off our gas and oil pipes, damned our rivers, shut the St Lawrence seaway, and entered an energy and defense pact with Russia and China the US would be finished.

The Criminal July 1, 2007 11:04 PM

I am a Korean-American born in the USA. My girlfriend has a student visa and is from South Korea. We came to Canada to visit and when we were going back to the US and crossing the border, they detained us in the immigration office b/c my gf looked “suspicious” since she wasn’t a US citizen. They put their filthy hands on her and forcefully fingerprinted her like she was a criminal and interviewed us both for about 5 hours. To make things short, they ended her student visa and she has to leave the country in a few days, in Canada of course. I hope everyone will fully understand how RACIST the border control is and how the US treats non-citizens as almost subhumans. FCK YOU BORDER CONTROL and FCK USA.

Mick July 9, 2007 7:47 PM

Let me see if im understanding this right…

At the MAIN border crossings, secutiry is tight the Americans try and fingerprint you…and all these other invasions of privacy. Yet on smaller less used border crossings, there isnt even anyone watching them?

Seems crazy. Its like have a bank vault door for the main entrance on your house, but leaving your backdoor completley open.

US Citizen August 6, 2007 5:17 PM

If you don’t want to follow the rules/laws of the USA then don’t come here, from anywhere, that simple! Follow the rules/laws & you are welcome, even simpler!!

Concerned Canadian August 17, 2007 1:48 PM

“If you don’t want to follow the rules/laws of the USA then don’t come here, from anywhere, that simple! Follow the rules/laws & you are welcome, even simpler!!”

So I guess if your country had a law to gas one of its minorities you’d be OK with that because it’s a US law? Your post is laughably simplistic – and short-sighted. Pissing the rest of the world off is not a wise policy – especially when you’ve already got your hands full fighting people who don’t like you. Why make it worse?

HR August 21, 2007 4:06 PM

I have spent many a precious dollar in the US…..of which I am very regretful. I would never go to a place that makes me feel so bloody unwelcome right at the entrance. Unfortunately many family and friends live there. Dubya is Dubya, but why do the border lackies have to be so uncivilized. Stay home don’t go there!!

Bob September 3, 2007 9:32 AM

Excluding Vegas, Disneyworld and New York, America sucks. Canadians should refuse to travel to the US and focus on Europe and Asia. The US’s importance in the world shrinks daily we just have to let go.

USA November 11, 2007 10:59 PM

I’m an American…
I have been to Canada a few times in my life; I’ve always enjoyed it and the people have always been great. However, I can’t say the same for today. Today, my perspective has changed.
Today, my fiance’ and I decided to go up for some fun at Windsor to relax before finals start this week. We were searched like crazy and asked many ridiculous questions. By the time we were so “graciously” allowed into Canada, I really had no further desire to enter the country. I was scolded by Immigration for not carrying enough cash. Apparently she hasn’t heard that everyone takes plastic nowadays.
I do not wish to return to Canada for a long time-maybe forever. I have no record to speak of, not a traffic citation, nothing!
I will not be treated like a criminal. Thank you border patrol, for making me feel like a criminal. It was truly an enriching experience. I LOVE the USA!
Also, since you treat us Americans like criminals at your border, do not expect our cash to help your businesses. Do not try to capitalize on our cash in any of your businesses. If you don’t want us in your country (obviously!), don’t request international trade or encourage us to buy things when we’re in your country.

Anonymous November 11, 2007 10:59 PM

I’m an American…
I have been to Canada a few times in my life; I’ve always enjoyed it and the people have always been great. However, I can’t say the same for today. Today, my perspective has changed.
Today, my fiance’ and I decided to go up for some fun at Windsor to relax before finals start this week. We were searched like crazy and asked many ridiculous questions. By the time we were so “graciously” allowed into Canada, I really had no further desire to enter the country. I was scolded by Immigration for not carrying enough cash. Apparently she hasn’t heard that everyone takes plastic nowadays.
I do not wish to return to Canada for a long time-maybe forever. I have no record to speak of, not a traffic citation, nothing!
I will not be treated like a criminal. Thank you border patrol, for making me feel like a criminal. It was truly an enriching experience. I LOVE the USA!
Also, since you treat us Americans like criminals at your border, do not expect our cash to help your businesses. Do not try to capitalize on our cash in any of your businesses. If you don’t want us in your country (obviously!), don’t request international trade or encourage us to buy things when we’re in your country.

shady business January 14, 2008 11:17 AM

be it canda or american, I am a visible monority, ndn, I wish we were that paranoid back then, but our way is the way of sharing, if you feel abliged to spend money, there is someone living in the streets, somwhere, in any country.If people would drop their petiness. Anywhere on turtle, you are in my country

not an idiot February 2, 2008 6:06 PM

On December 17 I was crossing the Canadian border on a Greyhound bus at Blaine, Washington. Two very stupid Korean students had been shopping in Seattle and left their bags on the bus after an announcement that all items on the bus had to be brought into the border control building. I know they could speak and understand English because they were using it, as well as Korean, on the trip. Well, they messed it up for all of us, delaying our bus for over 90 minutes and subjecting the rest of the passengers to incredibly rude interrogations by the young Canadian staff in that building. Even though I was only visiting a friend in Vancouver for six days, I was grilled about how I supported myself (had just finished a stint teaching in Korea and had plenty of money for the trip) and just why did I think I could even go to Canada, as a US citizen? It was awful! Finally the stupid Korean students got back on the bus, over $100 dollars lighter in their wallets because of their little “mistake”. Travel is getting way too stressful these days!

Josh February 8, 2008 3:15 AM

‘Tis true, ’tis true, DHS and Dubya have made mincemeat of a “friendly” border crossing. I routinely travel from Seattle to Vancouver by car now, which is horrific on numerous fronts.

However, when I first moved to Seattle (3+ years ago, right after the start of Iraq War, v2.0), a friend and I decided to go visit friends up in Canada. Thinking it would be best to tell the truth, when asked we told Canadian border guards that we met in the United States Navy. This, coupled with the fact that I didn’t have my passport, led to an hour and a half questioning, search (complete with dog) of both ourselves and the car, and calling our Canadian friends that we were to visit. They were searching for deserters from the military, as it had become somewhat rampant.

blue river July 19, 2008 10:51 PM

on july05,2008,i took amtrak to us for a long weekend.
with all the valid paper work and ducoment,i was questioned and searched by us border guard.

have visited us before,never broke any law.come home on time.

but really,1st time in my life,i feel my rights has been taken away,and be treated like a criminal…they’re angry.rude and act strange,looks like grown up on the street,no manners.no education,only thing they know is yelling and screaming.

what a hell! i shouldn’t make this trip.on the end,they send me back to Canada without give me a reason,even i asked them why: they asked me be quiet! i feel like they can kill me anytime or beat me up,i was so strong and didn’t crying.

can’t understand,us border guard had such a power,abuse traverler in their way.they can get above the law,do anything they want???


perhaps it’s a lesson for me,i had good feeling about usa in the past.now us scare me away….

don’t know how long it will take for me to forget this unpleasant trip,and a nightmare.but just let good people know,how dangerous us border guard is!!!

Somethings gotta give August 11, 2008 4:11 PM

Just have to say, it is ridiculous what both canadians and americans must go through to cross the border. Most the majority of us on both sides are nothing like the barbarians that patroll the borders. To me it just seems like a way to shrink the world, make us hate each other and prepare the way for more war and those in charge of the world to be given obscene power over the people.

moody August 31, 2008 12:33 AM

On the 25 of August I flew into LA. I’m a Canadian citizen and I go to LA often to visit family and conduct business. I was detained for 18 hours, strip searched, locked up in a room with no air conditioning and refused water and food. Only after being interrogated several times, forced to sign a statement that was false under the threat that I would be barred from entering the States for 5 years was I given a bottle of water and crackers. While being detained I couldn’t help but thinking of the horror stories I had heard about people disappearing to Guantanamo or elsewhere for waterboarding or worse.
I call on all nations of the world to begin treating American Citizens in the same way we are being treated when entering the US. Maybe after enough of them have had similar experiences will they feel isolated enough to think carefully who they elect as their president.

doobbie September 30, 2008 5:14 PM

I am originally from the UK and have been living in Vancouver now for more than 10 years. I have crossed the border so many times that i have lost count, usually at the Peace Arch but also at Aldergrove and have on ocassion used the Sumas crossing. I have never had a problem getting into the states as so many of you are proclaiming. My biggest gripes are the lack of organisation to get people through in a timely fashion, with 6000 plus vehicles a day passing at the peace arch, most of what is being claimed here is utter B.S.
I must say that coming back into Canada as a Canadian is much more nerve racking and frustrating than entering the US. Just last night Sept 29th 2008, i encountered posibly the most ridiculous clown working as a Canadian border agent, who asked stupid questions and took an unneccesarily long time to scan my passport. This fool was so incompetent that he did not even remove a temporary entry pass that my parents had in their passports, despite me telling him numerous times to remove it. He was far more interested in asking what was the purpose of the alcohol that we had purchased. I mean what do you think is the purpose of buying alcohol, to drink you idiot!!!, this question was asked even after i had stated we only had 70$ worth. But seriously people the Americans are far more accomodating at the border than the Canadians have ever been, maybe they are jealous because the American agents have bigger utility belts with guns…wooo!!!
I have never been finger printed or photographed when entering the US, and i dare say that a large faction of the people commenting here probably deserved the treatment you got!!!

Shocked October 16, 2008 4:55 PM

This is absolute hogwash… Between the majority of the comments I’ve read on this particular blog and elsewhere around the internet, many of you are beginning to change my attitude towards the Canadian population and as an American, I can’t begin to describe how unfortunate I feel that is.

Not once in my entire life have I ever spoken an ill-word about Canadians, nor have I ever encountered a fellow American do so. Further still, I don’t recall an American politician speak ill of the Canadian people… Which is more than I can say in converse to Canadian politicians, such as Carolyn Parish who was quoted as saying “damn Americans, I hate those bastards.”

So many of you dislike and disagree with the administration of George W. Bush… well here’s a newsflash for you, so does the majority of the American people. In case many of you have forgotten, he won by the narrowest of majorities, which means essentially 1 out of every two Americans voted AGAINST him and he now holds the lowest approval rating of any American president in the history of our nation. With that said however, I am simply astonished by the number of Canadians who are seemingly incapable of distinguishing between a term-limited government and the general population. Despite being a rude, ignorant American, I certainly differentiate between the acts of your government and you the people of Canada.

But since we’re just letting it all hang out right now, I might as well let loose myself…

Canadians have become a bunch of world-class hypocrites.

I am amused by how quickly you’ve all forgotten the decade of Chretien and all of the scandals and corruption that accompanied it. Or how you forget the Halifax Explosion when it was the American City of Boston who responded with an immediate outpouring of support – financial, human, or otherwise, while Ottawa’s response was to sit and debate on helping the city. How about Canada’s policies towards the Jews or atrocities of Rwanda?

Most tellingly was Canada’s actions in Haiti only a few years ago… How quickly you’ve all forgotten that as well. Yet, I don’t recall a single condemnation of the Canadian people from neither myself, nor my fellow Americans.

With all that aside, I simply cannot fathom the audacity needed to make references and comparisons between the US and the former USSR, especially from people whose government is formed around many socialist principles… it’s simply absurd.

Yes, there are some very minor issues between our two countries at this moment, but none warrant any sort of division between our two peoples – we share more similarities than we do differences. So why don’t we tone down the smugness and ignorance on both sides and simply continue to work towards common goals. There are far more pressing issues facing all of us… Let’s not be distracted by such meager drivel.

ANA December 8, 2008 11:12 AM


HJohn December 8, 2008 11:30 AM


I’m not saying that didn’t happen to you, but I will say that in the past 4 years, I’ve crossed the US/Canadian border at least 30 times and have never been treated like that. For the most part, guards on both sides were courteous. My trunk is always casually opened when coming into the US (where I give them the keys and they open it themselves, presumably so I can’t floor it and leave), and going into Canada it usually isn’t. The only time i’ve ever had my belongings searched was coming into Canada, however.

There have been some rude guards, but they are in a minority. It is worth noting that this is usually at the Detroit border, so I couldn’t speak for other locations.

I do know one gentleman who lied to the border once while driving a business car, so that business car has been searched every time it goes over for the past few months due to the lie. Often this is when another person is driving it.

In any case, if you find out more, many of us would like to know.

sally young January 7, 2009 11:28 AM

i think the way u are treated at canada border is awful and usa borders canadtans should be aloud in usa any time they want to come this way they are treating canadians is stupid and a bunch of hog wash

Dale Casselman August 24, 2009 6:17 PM

i went through the motions of being told that i didn’t own my pick up truck and no normal male at 44 years old would just go across the border for the day.. so they had an assembly of 4 or 5 people drilling me with questions and then literally took parts off my motor.. i am clean cut.. infact i gave them my company to call. my home to call and provided a half dozen referals as to my trip to the states.. they still were not satisfied. i was detained for about 2 hrs..

rick September 30, 2009 5:37 AM

I’m Canadian (4th generation), yet I get treated badly by both the Canadian and US border people. Finger printed by the US, accused of carrying drugs by the Canadian, etc..

Those of you claiming either that mistreatment doesn’t happen, or those mistreated deserve it.. because it doesn’t happen to you – look at the color of your skin, there is your answer.

I’m squeaky clean, not even a speeding ticket, I don’t even jay walk.. yet the population of both countries is convinced that I am a criminal. f***ing racists.

Sean November 12, 2009 12:37 AM

I do agree that crossing the border can sometimes be an inconvenience, the US border guards can be seen as rude sometimes, I simply see it as a tactic, their rudeness makes people nervous, people trip over their words when they are nervous. While reading some of the posts on here it does seem a bit ridiculous, I cross the border on a monthly basis and never have a problem, occasionally I will have my vehicle searched, but it’s all part of the process. It happens sometimes, thats why I always leave a bit of extra time. The most I have been stopped for is 15 mins, and that includes the lineup at the secondary inspection area. The guard just asks me a few questions (which sometimes are personal) does a quick sweep of my car and off I go. If they had dogs readily available at the border crossing, going up and down the lines of cars that would definitely help speed up the process.

justme January 2, 2010 10:43 AM

US CBP officiers are rude, demanding and insensitive. Actually, I think that is true of most Americans now I come to read that sentence again!

I’m British, have lived in US for many years before returning to UK to live a few years ago when I retired. Eversince then, my access to the US (I have have friends and family there), has been frought with difficulty and secondary inspections. So much so that I no longer travel there on a casual basis to see my loved ones… preferring instead to have them visit me – even at my expense if necessary. It seems that a CBP officer at SFO can make a mistake, such that it follows you each time you visit and for some unknown reason, cannot be corrected or removed from your database, I suspect it can be removed, they just don’t want to because it is things like this that justify their existance and pay slip – courtesy of the US tax payer, of which I was one for many years!. I am currently in the process of transefrring my assets back to the UK and you will not believe the hastle this is causing me.

The only complaint about UK controls is not how you are treated, but how long the line is if you are not British. Sorry about that, but it is much better than being branded a criminal unless you can prove otherwise. It is my opinion the Americans continue to alienate themselves from the rest of the world by their attitudes and actions and I, as just one of the remainng six billion people on this world, hope that one day, someone will stand up to them.

As Wilfy Smith would say, “come the revolution brovver!”

Justme January 3, 2010 6:12 AM

I just found this… http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-8956.htm

to add to the woes of the poor US visitor, it seems the DHS are going to require Airlines and cruise ship companies to collect fingerprints and photoes at the departure gate and submit them to the DHS within 24 hrs of the flight or ship, leaving. You, having lived in the US for almost 20 years, when I retired I chose to return to the UK because I thought the average US jane and Joe were the most oppressed in the world and that they just didn’t know it. It seems the long arm and the depth of the US tax payer’s pocket is now trying to make everyone else equally oppressed. Oh boy!

ayman abdalla June 8, 2010 8:35 AM

i’ve just seen this blog and the respected comments from all participants, but can anyone tell me please, how can i erase the misunderstod (stories ) about me, that the us border’s officials added on their system and it’s increasingly becoming the sole reason to give me a hard time crossing the borders, i mean the legal professional way (if any) and i don’t know why it could be impossible, while criminals can apply for a pardon and get a permission to cross the borders after sometime, WHAT ABOUT INNOCENTS….?????

Thanks to all

annie August 24, 2010 6:42 PM

I am canadian, and do 6 months in Toronto, 6 months in Palm Desert, California.
i overstayed my 6 months this year, because the lawyer who was to get an extension for me, took the money and did nothing. As a result I am now of course red flagged….how long does the alert stay on record? I want to be back into california for this winter for health reasons.

Kurt Steiner August 27, 2010 7:10 PM

I live in Michigan and can see the border just a few blocks away. I used to like going across, especially since I have a good friend in Sarnia, Ontario. I still like going TO Canada, but I go much less than before. It’s not because of the CBSA guards. They’re usually professional and fast on clearing me through. Rarely do I have trouble with them. It’s coming BACK that is a massive pain. US CBP treats you like you’re a criminal for going to Canada and if they think you stayed too long/too little you get the third degree. Honestly, they scare the hell out of me, and they shouldn’t, since I have no criminal record, honorably discharged USAF vet, valid passport…thank you, CBP, for nothing. Mr Obama, are you going to change any of this?

mmb December 2, 2011 2:54 PM

you know why the US is doing this? Because they CAN. Because they are the most powerful country in the world.

Whether or not you bitch or protest about not coming to the US, they really dont care.

It wont affect them. The negative emotions against the US is ON YOU. Not THEM. So keep bitching and keep whining.

They won’t budge. The United States never did nor ever will.

  • A Canadian Compliant US border crosser-

JP April 19, 2013 9:39 AM

I ve just been refused access to USA. I am young entrepreneur I have many meeting but this time I was actually getting payed to go! guess what no work visa….I got treated like a criminal, fingerprinted and photographed. Is there any course of action after? I did not want to get fingerprinted…an now I will have problem everything I cross.
please let me know

Michael March 25, 2014 4:27 PM

When crossing border from Canada to US, I always meet a bald fat old white guy who picks on me and tortures me for being brown. Just because I am brown, they ask me wierd questions and search and break my car.

Am I not a human? There should be security cameras and everything the officers say to the people should be recorded so that no injustice can be done.

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