Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Welcome to the USA

“Mohammed, you and your family are good to go. Enjoy your trip to the United States,” the customs official said as he handed over a bundle of passports.

“How about those two?” a desk agent inquired, gesturing in our direction.

“No, not them. They are not good,” he answered sternly while giving us the stare down. I picked at my not-so-fresh-manicure while trying to look as innocent and unbothered as possible.


***

After a hectic weekend of final exams and moving out of our apartment in the midst of an ice storm, Matthew and I were so relieved to finally be reunited with my family in Toronto for the Christmas holidays. We chilled, we slept, we ate, we drank, and most importantly, we truly got to enjoy some quality down time with our family and friends.

A couple days into 2014, we repacked little Peppy LePepster (our car, in case you were wondering) with our backpacks, a couple of suitcases, and belated Christmas presents for our American side of the family, then drove south towards Tennessee. The plan was to spend a few days in the States with my in-laws before flying to Honduras and beginning our Central American adventure. We planned to eventually return to the States for a couple of months then drive back up to Canada in the late summer. 


Welcome-to-USA-Canada-border-crossing
All packed up
Unfortunately I didn’t think ahead to print my airline ticket out of the country and, as I learned through some very gruff U.S. border security officials, the fact that I was travelling to the US with my American husband with no job or lease to show my ties to Canada made my trip seem very dubious. 

“How do we know you’re not going to try to illegally immigrate into the United States? What if you take away an employment opportunity from an American citizen?” the agent questioned me.

“I don’t have any proof on paper, but if you let me sign into my email I can show you the e-ticket confirmation,” I offered. “Out of curiosity,” I added in my best attempt at a patient and non-threatening tone, “How come my privilege as a Canadian citizen to travel freely in and out of the States without a visa has been suddenly withdrawn? Just two weeks ago I took a day trip to New York for some shopping and didn’t have any issues.”

I don’t recall ever getting a clear answer to that one, but after lots of questioning, fingerprinting, retina scanning, searching, and threatening (on their part) interspersed by questioning, pleading, promising, and compliance (on my part), I was eventually allowed to enter America for seven days.

“Make sure you give this ticket to immigration on your way out of the country,” the official warned me. “By the way, your passport has been red-flagged. Welcome to the USA.”


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14 comments:

  1. This is horrible! I heard about your troubles at the border, but I'm glad you are safe and sound in Central America! Crossing fingers that you wont have this much trouble coming back! Hugs!

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    1. My fingers are crossed too! The night before we left we filled out an extensive application for my conditional permanent residency (and paid a hefty application fee) which will hopefully be accepted by the time we're ready to come back. If not, you'll be seeing me lots in Canada ;)

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  2. Wow... I am so sorry about your troubles girl... that's ridiculous.

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    1. I know!! Glad I'm not the only one who thinks they overreacted a little bit.

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  3. Oh, wow. So sorry to hear about your awful experience. Hopefully you had/have a great time while in the States. :-)

    Mo

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    1. It was a low key couple of days but very relaxing! We're hoping to house sit for a couple of months when we're back (assuming I'll allowed to come back :S) and will get into lots more during that time!

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  4. Wow that sounds horrible, I'm sorry you had to go through that!!
    xo dana
    thewonderforest.com

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    1. Yeah it was not fun, and I didn't even mention the part when they brought out the drug sniffing dog and told us they were going to rip our car apart! I don't know why but they certainly had it out for us :S

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  5. That is so strange! What a weird experience. Especially since you are Canadian... and not from a country where people try to sneak into the US... Anyway, I'm glad you are one step closer to your adventures!

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    1. I know, I thought it was so weird too! I've since filled out an extensive application for my conditional permanent residency (and paid a hefty application fee) which will hopefully be accepted by the time we're ready to come back. If not, I'll be in a long distance marriage for a while, which is certainly not ideal :s

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  6. Wow, so sorry you had to go through that :( Yeah, I agree with Ashley, Canada and the U.S. have no issues with large amounts of known illegal immigration, so I don't know why they were acting so rude towards you. Ugh, I guess people just have to try and mess up peoples days. On the bright side, you're in sunny Central America now!

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  7. This is pretty insane. It's one of those things that you think will never happen to you until it does. At least you now have a really good story to tell. Make sure it gets more dramatic with each retelling lol. Happy travels and welcome to the US of A!

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    1. haha I'll keep that in mind Candice, thank you!

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