“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.
|All packed up|
“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“How come my privilege as a Canadian citizen to travel freely in and out of the States without a visa has been suddenly withdrawn?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.”