While many Canadians are concerned about having problems at the United States border, it is Americans who are having difficulties visiting Canada with the number turned away rising by 31 per cent last year, La Presse has learned.
According to federal documents, 30,233 Americans were turned away when attempting to enter Canada in 2016. In 2015, 23,052 people were turned back, representing an increase of 31 per cent in one year.
The numbers are all the more striking when compared to 2014, when 7,509 American citizens were refused entry to Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which is responsible for border security, would not provide reasons for the increase.
“The CBSA is not in a position to speculate,” said Nicholas Dorion, a spokesperson for the agency. “The number of people turned away at the border fluctuates from year to year.”
The announcement of a new intelligence sharing agreement between Ottawa and Washington in 2013 likely played a role, according to Tamara Mosher Kuczer, a lawyer specializing in immigration matters with the law office Capelle Kane in Ottawa.
Under the deal, Canadian border agents can more easily detect Americans with a criminal record who show up at the border. Infractions, some decades old, could not be detected before the deal.
“We receive many more demands from people who travelled for years to Canada without a problem and who are now refused entry for a drinking and driving infractions that dates back 40 years,” the lawyer said.
The CBSA refused to detail the reasons for the 30,233 refusals of American travellers last year. People turned back at the border generally receive “permission to leave,” the federal agency said.
“If an individual is suspected of being prohibited from Canadian territory by a Canadian border agent for a reason cited by the Immigration and Refugee Act, the agent must always consider authorizing the person to leave Canada voluntarily,” said Dorion. “When the agent at the border authorizes a person to take back their request to enter Canada they have to proceed by providing a formula entitled ‘authorized to leave Canada’ “
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