Mistaken identity cleared; B.C. man allowed into U.S.
Published Friday, February 4, 2011 5:49PM PST
A Canadian denied entry to the United States after American customs officials mistook him for a criminal will now have free passage across the border.
Mark Gregory Goddard was emotional but visibly relieved after he emerged triumphant from the Peace Arch border crossing office, buoyed by a recent CTV News story on his case as well as support from government and opposition MPs.
"I'd like to say I'm overwhelmed right now. I'm so excited. I'm able to go back to the U.S. and take trips with my family again," Goddard said Friday afternoon.
Border guards had refused entry to Goddard for seven months after they accused him of being Mark Alan Goddard, an Ontario man with a lengthy criminal record.
What concerned Goddard and his family most was that he had been presented with an interrogation transcript that appeared to show Mark Gregory Goddard confessing to Mark Alan Goddard's crimes.
That was despite a clear proof of Goddard's identity and innocence provided by the North Vancouver RCMP.
Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh promised to take up Goddard's case with Canada's ministers of public safety and foreign affairs.
NDP MP Don Davies pointed out that the case could derail sensitive negotiations meant to harmonize security at border crossings.
And Goddard's own MP, Conservative Andrew Saxton, told him Canada's Prime Minister was interested in the case, Goddard said.
Friday morning, Goddard went to the Peace Arch border crossing with CTV News cameras and immigration lawyer Len Saunders.
"I spoke to the Customs and Border Protection people at Blaine port of entry," said Saunders. "They were kind enough to have him fingerprinted and do a record check through the RCMP."
The pair entered the customs office, and two hours later they emerged. Customs checked with the RCMP and confirmed that Goddard was in fact who he says he is.
Goddard said he was incredibly grateful to Saunders, Saxton and CTV News.
"Without CTV I don't know where I'd be today," said Goddard. "It's a great outcome and a great day."
Customs staff didn't answer questions about the so-called confession, and neither did their spokespeople. Goddard's complaint to the Department of Homeland Security that the confession was "fictitious" appears to still stand.
U.S. customs spokespeople also didn't respond to questions about why Antonio Cintron, the customs inspector whose name is associated with the confession, now works in Salt Lake City, Utah.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward and Mi-Jung Lee