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Horrible treatment by Canadian Customs/Immigration (CBSA) at YVR

Horrible treatment by Canadian Customs/Immigration (CBSA) at YVR

Old Nov 2, 12, 1:17 pm
  #1  
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Horrible treatment by Canadian Customs/Immigration (CBSA) at YVR

Mods, feel free to move this if it belongs in Travel Safety/Security or Canada.

So here's the background. I wanted to go to Alaska for my birthday and I've been wanting to fly Cathay Pacific for a long time. I decided to combine the two and booked a JFK-YVR flight on CX in First and then bought an Alaska ticket from YVR-SEA-ANC. When I arrived at YVR I explained this to the first agent I saw and he wrote some numbers on my customs declaration that indicated I was to be sent to secondary screening. Here is where the "fun" started.

Never in my life have I been made to feel more like a criminal. I have friends who have been arrested who were treated better. I explained what I was doing and showed my Alaska E-Ticket reservation to a female agent who promptly requested a supervisor. I was then told "empty your pockets and step away from the table". The two of them looked through all the pictures in my camera, then turned on my cell phone and proceeded to read through my emails and texts and scroll through the photos therein. Meanwhile, I was asked over and over again what drugs I took and what I'd been arrested for. The more I said "none and nothing", the more I said "I'm going to Alaska for fun" the more condescending and accusatory they became.

They saw I had an entry stamp from SDQ on 9/1 and an exit on 9/3 and told me "I've never heard of anyone staying only two days, why were you REALLY there?". They didn't believe that I'd gone because "it's there". They asked how much money I made and then chose to run a criminal background check on me. The whole ordeal took over 45 minutes and what upset me the most was I HAD DONE NOTHING WRONG. The more I explained why I was there, the less they believed me. I almost wanted to start lying so hopefully they'd believe me and let me go. When I asked what they expected to find in my phone they snapped "the Customs Act allows us to look through your phone so be quiet".
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Old Nov 2, 12, 1:27 pm
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While this doesnt justify the CBSA, I take it you never entered the USA as a foreigner and undergone interrogation. It makes your story sound like a visit to a country club.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 1:40 pm
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I can't remember the layout of YVR very well, so don't remember if there is an "international terminal" or just the general terminals. Were you just in transit in a sterile area to connect to an international flight, or did you try to leave the airport, thereby entering the country?

I've had both very good and very bad experiences there, it may just depend on the mood of the person you get.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 1:52 pm
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Originally Posted by rankourabu View Post
While this doesnt justify the CBSA, I take it you never entered the USA as a foreigner and undergone interrogation. It makes your story sound like a visit to a country club.
No, I haven't. I hold a US Passport. But I have done international mileage running where I looked far more suspicious than I did this time (traveling to LHR with just a backpack to "turn around and go home") and never had this issue in the UK, Germany or arriving back in the US. I think that's what I was so surprised by.

Would the US really read the texts and emails of people? I know to do that to a US citizen they'd need a warrant.

Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
I can't remember the layout of YVR very well, so don't remember if there is an "international terminal" or just the general terminals. Were you just in transit in a sterile area to connect to an international flight, or did you try to leave the airport, thereby entering the country?
In this case there was no option for Flight Connections like Heathrow. I had to leave the secure area then go back upstairs to check-in and head to the Transborder (US flights) section.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 2:05 pm
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
Would the US really read the texts and emails of people? I know to do that to a US citizen they'd need a warrant.
No, they don't.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 2:09 pm
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Why not complain? - I have done so entering the US (as a US citizen).
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Old Nov 2, 12, 2:18 pm
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
Would the US really read the texts and emails of people? I know to do that to a US citizen they'd need a warrant.
Of course they would! And break your phone while they're at it!

And dont even try to enter with stamps with squiggly writing in your passport.

Luckily Global Entry eliminated the constant harassment from USCBP.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 2:29 pm
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Originally Posted by PresRDC View Post
No, they don't.
Really? I asked my parents who are lawyers and they seemed to think they did. The fact that they don't scares me.

I guess clearly I've been sheltered, i thought this was an awful, invasive, unfair experience but I guess it's commonplace
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Old Nov 2, 12, 2:38 pm
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[QUOTE=CMK10;19612493
I guess clearly I've been sheltered, i thought this was an awful, invasive, unfair experience but I guess it's commonplace [/QUOTE]

Yes, it happens all the time to "foreigners" entering the US.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 2:45 pm
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Originally Posted by celle View Post
Yes, it happens all the time to "foreigners" entering the US.
Well on behalf of this country I'm sorry. I know border people have a job to do and I respect that, but people shouldn't feel condescended to or as if they've done something when they haven't. Again, I'm lucky because all the law enforcement I've dealt with here, and customs people in other countries, have always been fair and polite to me. I wasn't used to being told I was on drugs and some kind of career criminal.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 2:46 pm
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Question Never Should Have Happened...

Dear CM,

Why (being the ultra elite road warrior that you are) do you NOT have NEXUS and/or Global Entry???

You could have TOTALLY avoided this situation!
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Old Nov 2, 12, 2:50 pm
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Originally Posted by I_Can_Fly_US_Airways View Post
Dear CM,

Why (being the ultra elite road warrior that you are) do you NOT have NEXUS and/or Global Entry???

You could have TOTALLY avoided this situation!
Because I'm cheap, period. I only travel out of the country twice a year (this was my first time in Canada in 60 some odd months). I'd rather have the $100 or whatever in my pocket and not have to go to the interviews and deal with this, than avoid it and spend the money. For a once to twice a year international traveler who doesn't make all that much money, Nexus and Global Entry don't make all that much sense.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 2:54 pm
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
Because I'm cheap, period. I only travel out of the country twice a year (this was my first time in Canada in 60 some odd months). I'd rather have the $100 or whatever in my pocket and not have to go to the interviews and deal with this, than avoid it and spend the money. For a once to twice a year international traveler who doesn't make all that much money, Nexus and Global Entry don't make all that much sense.
Twice a year would make it $10 per trip for GE. TOTALLY WORTH IT not to have to deal with USCBP morons who cant tell Morocco from Afghanistan (and as you've shown, their Canadian equivalent)
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Old Nov 2, 12, 3:05 pm
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
Really? I asked my parents who are lawyers and they seemed to think they did. The fact that they don't scares me.

I guess clearly I've been sheltered, i thought this was an awful, invasive, unfair experience but I guess it's commonplace
DHS' position is that a warrant is not required. To be fair, it has not been fully litigated, but that is the government's position.

Typically, they target single male travelers returning from countries known for child sex tourism or employees of defense companies looking for ITAR violations.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 3:14 pm
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
They saw I had an entry stamp from SDQ on 9/1 and an exit on 9/3 and told me "I've never heard of anyone staying only two days, why were you REALLY there?".
There's the reason for the third degree.
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