Canadian citizen of Indian origin stopped at US border, told she needs immigrant visa

A 2014 US Customs and Border Patrol policy?"prohibits the consideration of ethinicity in law enforcement, investigation, and screening activities, in all but the most exceptional circumstances". Photo source: Facebook. Photograph:( Facebook )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 07, 2017, 02.38 AM (IST)

A Canadian woman born to Indian parents seeking to enter the United States with a valid Canadian passport was denied entry at the border, and was told she needed a valid immigrant visa, the CBC reports.

Manpreet Kooner is a thirty-year-old Canadian citizen born in Montreal, where she was raised and where she currently lives.

Kooner told the CBC that she was trying to get to a spa in Vermont for a day trip, but never reached because she was held at the border for six hours before eventually being turned away.

A border agent told her, "I know you may feel like you've been Trumped," referencing the American president, Donald Trump.

Adding to her confusion, Kooner was told to apply for the visa at the US Embassy in Ottawa, where she went Monday morning, but was told they could not help her, and that actually she needed to talk to US Customs and Border Protection, CBC reports.

In a statement, the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) said it does not discuss individual cases, but that anybody seeking entry must prove they meet the requirements for admission, and that ultimately border officers are given discretion on entry.

A 2014 policy "prohibits the consideration of ethnicity in law enforcement, investigation, and screening activities, in all but the most exceptional circumstances".


Her recent, innocent past

Kooner told the CBC that her mother was turned away at the border last summer. She wasn't told why, but Manpreet was assured her mother's issues wouldn't affect her. 

Her first trouble entering the United States came last December, after Trump was elected but before he took office, the CBC reports. They say she was pulled over for a random search, where she was fingerprinted and made to fill out numerous forms. Eventually they were told something was wrong with the computer and to return the next morning; She did, and was admitted entry without issue.

But this time around they asked why she was stopped last December. She told them she is a Canadian citizen without a criminal record, who never had any issues entering the US, until the previous December. The CBC report says she was fingerprinted and photographed, then signed a form withdrawing her application for entry into the country.

This is when she was told, "I know you may feel like you've been Trumped".

Even though there weren't any flags on her on her file, a border guard advised her not to fly into the US without the valid immigrant visa, and without saying what kind of visa she needed recommended simply she go to the US Embassy in Ottawa to get one.

At this point, Kooner tells the CBC, she started to cry.


Standard protocol at border

Travellers from Canada and Bermuda typically do not need visas to visit the US, a US Embassy official told the CBC.

Among the category of Canadians who do need visas to enter the US are Canadians intending to immigrate or those planning to marry a US citizen, but Kooner doesn't fall into either group.

There is a kind of visa used for short term, non-immigrant travel into the United States, called the B1/B2 visa.

The website for US Customs and Border Protections describes its mandate: "To safeguard America's borders thereby protecting the public from dangerous people and materials while enhancing the Nation's global economic competitiveness by enabling legitimate trade and travel".

The site claims that on average, 1.2 million people enter the US a day at all crossings. Of those, the CBC says that between 300 to 500 people are denied entry for one reason or another.