'I still don't even know what I did wrong': Another Canadian banned from going to U.S. for 5 years
Rochelle Trepanier was planning to visit her boyfriend in California for the fall, while off work.
“I’ve done the same trip for the past two years. The same exact trip, same vehicle, to visit the same person in the same place.”
Trepanier is a tree planter, and has been for the last eight years.
“It’s my main source of income,” she said.
The work is seasonal, so during her off months in the fall she visits her boyfriend in California.
This time, her trip was different. She tried her usual route first, heading to Port Angeles from Victoria, but was turned away, and told she needed documents to prove she had ties to Canada.
Trepanier told CTV News she had bank and credit card information, cell phone bills and work stubs all on her phone that show her home is in Calgary. A few hours later she tried to cross the border again, this time at the Peace Arch crossing.
“I was detained here at the Peace Arch border crossing for about seven hours,” she said.
Border guards questioned her about her work, her family and her partner. The timing of this trip was important, which is why she decided to try another border-crossing, she said, because she and her boyfriend were planning to go to a friend’s wedding this week.
“I just couldn’t prove it good enough for them,” said Trepanier.
Her case is one of many immigration lawyers say they’ve seen in the last few months.
“I’m seeing at least one a day,” said lawyer Len Saunders. "These five-year bans (are) being given out like speeding tickets at the border.”
CTV News reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and received a statement that said: "Travelers attempting to enter the United States from Canada bear the burden of proof to show they are not intending immigrants. One of the ways they can do this is by presenting ties and equities such as proof of employment and an un-relinquished foreign residence."
“They’re issuing these five year bans to anyone who seems to have missing ties and equities or they don’t have a nine-to-five job,” said Saunders.
A CBP spokesperson told CTV News, “there has been a recent increase in the issuance of expedited removals, there has not been a policy change within CBP, nor is there a quota.” The spokesperson went on to say “every case is unique.”
But it’s prompting a warning to Canadians who don’t own a home or have a full-time, permanent job.
“With expedited removals, the officers at the border are judge, jury and hangmen,” said Saunders. "They have all the powers to basically give out the five-year ban and there’s no appeal.”
“Being banned for this long, it’s traumatic,” Trepanier said. "It’s heart-breaking.”
Saunders told CTV News Trepanier and others facing this ban can apply for a waiver, but it’s not cheap. He’d advise anyone who may be at risk to fly, rather than drive.