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RandyA

Canada Border Crossing Did Not Go Well

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We crossed into Canada Sunday at Port Huron with the Volvo and fiver.  The border agent pulled us into an area and told us to back up to a building with a loading dock.  We were detained 4-1/2 hours while they searched everything - including the porta-potty in the Volvo and the sewer hose in the fiver.  Slides were pulled out.  Every bag and box was opened.  A dog was brought in to sniff around.  They were looking for a gun which I did not have.  They found nothing that was prohibited.  The border agent made some very nasty remarks about Americans.  We were not allowed to have our cell phones while waiting.  When we finally got to our campsite 75 miles from the border I discovered the wiring for the driver side faring lights was jerked out and broken - all they needed to do was pull a plug in the wiring on the Volvo but they did not know or ask.  Several wires behind the TV were pulled out and the external hard drive for the Dish receiver was pulled off its secure mounting allowing it to fall to the floor in transit. The DW had a Mickey Mouse statue she values broken.  After the search they left most of our stuff scattered across the parking lot and just walked off. What I don't get is that they did not open the hood and look in the engine compartment.  IMHO that would have been a prime location to hide something, like inside the air filter canister or behind a headlight opening.  It really ruined our visit to Canada.  I am filing a formal complaint for both our treatment and the damage to our vehicle and possessions though I doubt it will do any good.

The crossing back into the USA when we entered Maine today was a piece of cake.  A couple of questions, a look at our passports and then "Welcome back to the USA".

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I am sorry that you were treated with such disrespect when you crossed the border.  It is a shame that your first contact in Canada is one that you will remember as unpleasant. As for the agent who said nasty things about Americans,  I really hope you got his name or badge number because he should loose his job or at least be sent for retraining.  That behaviour is unacceptable! 

I went on the Canada Border Service website and found a complaint form (http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/contact/feedback-retroaction-eng.html ) but it does state that the current time for a reply is 30 days!  I hope you persue this and get a satisfactory settlement and more importantly an apology!

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The end of May 2012 we had the same experience crossing at Osoyoos. They were professional but spent 4 hours searching our truck and trailer.  However like you they opened and moved every thing. Leaving things out and strewn about. 

Like you a welcome home from the  US side on return. 

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Wow!

We're crossing next month and I really dislike reading of your experience......Hoping it doesn't go that way for us. Might make it hard for you to return? Wonder how our current events played into the agent's attitude towards you?

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We crossed into New Brunswick back in the middle of June with nothing more than checking the passports and registrations which we had ready.  A couple of questions on guns and booze and we were on out way.

We came back south of Montreal with the same experience, passports, registrations and anything to declare.

I guess I look more honest.

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Should have told them you were Haitian or Moslem. Our useless Prime Minister lets them cross anywhere they like.

I hope the rest of your trip went well and I am sorry you were treated like that. 

Make sure you file a complaint. I am sure nothing will be done but at least if they get enough complaints about one individual officer maybe that will help someone else

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We had a similar encounter in 1999 when we crossed into Canada.  We were detained for hours as they went through everything.   They just left our stuff scattered.   They asked about a gun which we also didn't have numerous times. After they asked the first couple of times a crossing guard approached with 2 others and moved within an inch or 2 of my face sternly asking where the gun was and threatening me.  Before letting us leave they upended my DW's purse on the pavement and went through everything. They also just left that on the pavement. We crossed back into Canada a few more times on that trip to Alaska but these were simple walk throughs.  Crossing into the US involved a couple of simple questions and waved through.  During this trip we planned to spend a few weeks exploring Canada but after our treatment we just drove directly through spending as little as possible until we reached Alaska and back.

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I've been to Canada four times......all on motorcycle.  First time we rode the ferry from Port Angeles, Wash to Victoria, BC and we were passed right though after the preliminary few questions.  The second time we met similar attitude although they didn't tear our bike apart....just nasty, unfriendly attitude.  Kind of made us feel like we were invading their country and they didn't like it.  

We experienced the same nasty attitudes the next two times, as we entered on I-5 north heading to Vancouver.  I figure we spent roughly $2,500 to $5,000 for lodging, meals and incidnetals and we finally decided we'd spent enough money in a country that obviously doesn't want Americans to visit.  Haven't been back in about eight years.

 

By the way....each time we finally got in, we had a great time and experiences.  It was just the government workers at the boarder entrances that had attitude.

 

 

Edited by JCZ

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Out of a hundred or so crossings into and out of Canada, including many at the Port Huron/Sarnia crossing, we've only been sent for a secondary inspection once. That one was on the Queenston side of the Lewiston/Queenston crossing from NY near Niagara Falls, and only took about 20 minutes. We were able to wait outside with our dog while they "searched" the coach, and I put that in quotes because it was most cursory search I've ever seen. They open up most of the cabinets for a few seconds each and looked in the fridge, but they never took anything out of the cabinets or fridge. They never lifted the bed up to check the storage area underneath, they never opened any of the outside storage bins, and while they did have me unlock the toad, they never looked in it. Once they were done looking around, they had us put the dog back in the coach, and sent us inside to  a counter where our enhanced driver's licenses were checked and we answered the usual "Where are you coming from, where are you going" questions and were sent on our way. On the way back to the coach, I asked one of the agents if he could tell me why were chosen for the inspection. He said a random computer selection had picked us out. He said they get a few of those every day, and they never know when one will pop up. Maybe that's why they were so easy going about the search. They were all very polite and professional, and even directed my wife to a small patch of grass where our dog could relieve herself while we were waiting. Every other crossing has been pretty uneventful...

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Damn, that kind of sucks. I have always wanted to spend a summer in Alaska but if this is what you have to go through it doesn't seem worth the hassle. 

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7 minutes ago, Big5er said:

Damn, that kind of sucks. I have always wanted to spend a summer in Alaska but if this is what you have to go through it doesn't seem worth the hassle. 

I have crossed both ways many times. Never has there been and issue. That being said I am sure that I will get my turn in "secondary" either going north or south. I like to see the border in my rear-view mirrors and that is going both directions.

They may have had a reason to be suspisious  but there is no reason to be rude or un professional. Or to take 4 hours to search a truck and trailer. That is just rude and incompetent.

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There are 2 functions in play when you cross the border. One is Immigration, the other is Customs. For reasons unknown you were dealing with both. . I cross the border 6-10 times per year, and have had dealings with both occasionally beyond the routine. Once in a while immigration wants to toss the tractor, it has happened to me maybe twice in 20+ years. Once customs didn't like the brokers dealing with the load I had, so I had to unload it so they could verify. 

My only advice is when you stop at the first booth, shut off the truck, don't put on the parking brake,  have passports ready. Here is the important part. Look the agent right in the eye, like a laser and answer the questions. 

It is impossible to predict what any border personnel will do or why, I think their unpredictability is part of the regimen to keep those crossing off balance. And, like the IRS, they are betting stories like you have shared will "magnify" their effectiveness. I think the intimidation is entirely intentional. 

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 Now Randy that would really irritate me to have that happen.

 

 But it reminded me of my only time being in Mexico. Mid 1970's , a little more hair than I have now.

 

 I posted about it in the general section.

 

 Maybe you need to take a little brown bag the next time. 

 

 Cheer up Randy 

 

 Stay safe up there.   Vern

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Randy,

      Sorry to hear this were you the only one out of the group you were with get checked like this, I mean out of the three of you, you would have been the last one I expected to be stopped the other two look far more suspicious to me. Enjoy Maine and safe travels.

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We were hassled when we crossed on the way to Alaska in '14.  Female customs officer was rude, asking where my guns are kept, whether they're locked up, etc., AFTER she asked if we had any weapons.  She even asked why we had no guns, and if we felt safe with out them.

I would think the crossings have cameras to read your plate, and run it to see whether you have a CC permit.

When we came back, at Portal, ND, they did a cursory search and ran us through the x-ray.

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Quick storye about son-in-laws Dad going to Canada. While stopped at check point he declared his gun ammo etc. Then he remembered about the gun in his suit case. Remember he was still setting never put the car in gear at this time. After saying he remembered the gun they took him straight to jail for two weeks allowing his wife to see him only once per day. After many letters to Canadian officials he was released and told he would never be allowed in Canada again. I would NEVER go to Canada

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55 minutes ago, SuiteSuccess said:

Anyone know if having a conceal, carry permit more likely to trigger such an event?  And do Canadian authorities have ready access to that info?

Unfortunately, we have a similar experience as the original post EVERYTIME we enter Canada.  The change of attitude usually occurs shortly after we hand over our passports.  I believe I must be flagged in a database as a retired law enforcement officer and / or concealed weapons license holder.  As much as we like Canada, we will likely not visit there again.

Safe Travels...  

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I'm very sorry to read about your experience.  I have crossed the border many times over the years, with many years between visits sometimes.  I have only got the bad attitude once.  (Either direction) All the other times the reception varied from friendly to very stern.  

Driving my pickup, pulling our camper, we crossed at Niagara Falls entering Canada after midnight.  We were the only vehicle in line.  It appeared to be a training session for a younger officer/official.  Did I own a gun? Do I have it with me? (no) A few variations of this, then do I own a knife? (yes)  Where is it? (right here in the console, see?) All this with an attitude that would make a street thug look like a high school counselor.  (Perhaps a poor comparison.  Apologies V.T. 😎 )

i consider myself fortunate that I never experienced a search.

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11 hours ago, Mark and Dale Bruss said:

I guess I look more honest.

Obviously proof that profiling based on looks doesn't work. :lol:

What sucks for people like RandyA is that when they say they're going to tear apart your stuff, you're past a point of no return.  It's not like you can just say, "You know what, I'll just go back home."  Fortunately, at least on the US side, border searches/detentions are starting to get more scrutiny from the courts.

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I don't mind going into Canada. Beautiful country and wildlife I really enjoy.

That being said. I get secondary "every" "single" "time" ever since I've been going up there, but I've never had my rig "tossed" like the OP. Maybe because my crossing history goes back so many years and always without incident, but I always plan my travel times accordingly to allow for the 2-3hr delay I can expect. I try to hit the border right about "nap time". ;)

I've regularly crossed into Canada with firearms and have a concealed so it's kind of a double whammy for me. They go through everything, but I've never had my property left laying on the pavement or had any damage done.

Yes... they can see your concealed, LEO or military background. They have full access to NCIS (as well as other U.S. DB's) that pops up any applicable information as soon as your plates are scanned.

You might also mistakenly think that once they gave you a secondary inspection that that was the end of it. Nope. Every agent/officer involved in the inspection files a full report (which is added to your crossing history file)... including any responses or remarks you might have made during the course of the inspection.

Also... whoever you may be travelling with is recorded and THEIR info is also pulled.

Here is a website that goes into fairly decent detail about what border agents see, as well as good information to know when planning a border crossing in to Canada.

I wonder.. in the case of the OP if the treatment and scrutiny wasn't more sever simply because they didn't have a previous crossing history on file.. and/or their NCIS record was nonexistant or "thin" (?).

For me.. I've gotten the attitude before... not often... but I have no doubt part of that isn't, as Jeff was saying, more for show as a "display" of enforcement to the passerby's. Gotta admit... it IS effective (this thread being case in point).

When I go I just try and keep my mouth shut. Answer directly and concisley and don't offer up any details not asked for... OR... let myself be engaged in polite small talk that could lead to further inquiry. If they take the time to "chat" with you they are not just "shooting the bull" but employing technics to illicit further information from you.

Won't stop me from visiting though. Heck... headed that direction after the eclipse. :P

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3 hours ago, SuiteSuccess said:

Anyone know if having a conceal, carry permit more likely to trigger such an event?  And do Canadian authorities have ready access to that info?

I doubt they have that kind of info.  Just the common knowledge that a lot of US travelers will have a gun. I have a friend who lost 4 guns a couple a years ago when he lied to the border guards about having guns. also a $5000.00fine.

I have an AZ concealed carry permit as well as a NIA6 permit from ATF and the only time CC comes up is when the US side asks why if I have ever been finger printed. that is when I tell them I was finger printed for my CC permit.

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39 minutes ago, Yarome said:

Yes... they can see your concealed, LEO or military background. They have full access to NCIS (as well as other U.S. DB's) that pops up any applicable information as soon as your plates are scanned.

Y'all make it sound like they gather all of this info just by running your license plates, which is not true. There is no link between LEO, military, concealed, etc and the license plate on your vehicle in the NCIC database. License plates and vehicles change frequently. NCIC does NOT maintain vehicle registration data. That info is supplied by the states. Local warrants can be linked to registration returns, but they are not flagged in the NCIC database (and yes it is NCIC not NCIS). Felony warrants are logged into NCIC but are rarely attached to a vehicle return. Stolen vehicles are entered into the database. Drivers license and handgun license info is also not in NCIC. But again that info is supplied by each state. The information entered on your vehicles registration (by the state where it is registered) is entered when you buy a vehicle (by some clerk at the dealership who filed the paperwork with the state if you buy it new). The dealer asks "how do you want your name on the title?". Every vehicle I have ever owned is registered with my first initial and last name. There is no cross reference in Texas (and most other states) to your drivers license or anything else. I use the NCIC database on a daily basis, and run many out of state registrations. If you do not enter the specific vehicle make, type and/or registration year some states will not provide a registration return. That info just isn't in a Federal database. Run my license plates through NCIC and the ONLY thing you will get is "no record". Request the owners info and you will get the info on the vehicle make, model and VIN along with the registered owners name and address from the State of registration and that is it. Run my first initial and last name and Texas will tell you that no drivers license is found for that info. You will need the complete name and DOB that is on the license. If you run my complete name (which you will not get from the license plate) without a DOB you will get a list as long as your 5th wheel of "possibilities".

 Now there IS a border crossing database that lists every time you have crossed a border, what vehicle you were driving, who was with you, etc. They can enter your DL, handgun license. etc into that database but until you cross a border that database has nothing on you. 

 

The NCIC database includes 21 files (seven property files and 14 person files).

  • Article File: Records on stolen articles and lost public safety, homeland security, and critical infrastructure identification.
  • Gun File: Records on stolen, lost, and recovered weapons and weapons used in the commission of crimes that are designated to expel a projectile by air, carbon dioxide, or explosive action.
  • Boat File: Records on stolen boats.
  • Securities File: Records on serially numbered stolen, embezzled, used for ransom, or counterfeit securities.
  • Vehicle File: Records on stolen vehicles, vehicles involved in the commission of crimes, or vehicles that may be seized based on federally issued court order.
  • Vehicle and Boat Parts File: Records on serially numbered stolen vehicle or boat parts.
  • License Plate File: Records on stolen license plates.
  • Missing Persons File: Records on individuals, including children, who have been reported missing to law enforcement and there is a reasonable concern for their safety.
  • Foreign Fugitive File: Records on persons wanted by another country for a crime that would be a felony if it were committed in the United States.
  • Identity Theft File: Records containing descriptive and other information that law enforcement personnel can use to determine if an individual is a victim of identity theft of if the individual might be using a false identity.
  • Immigration Violator File: Records on criminal aliens whom immigration authorities have deported and aliens with outstanding administrative warrants of removal.
  • Protection Order File: Records on individuals against whom protection orders have been issued.
  • Supervised Release File: Records on individuals on probation, parole, or supervised release or released on their own recognizance or during pre-trial sentencing.
  • Unidentified Persons File: Records on unidentified deceased persons, living persons who are unable to verify their identities, unidentified victims of catastrophes, and recovered body parts. The file cross-references unidentified bodies against records in the Missing Persons File.
  • Protective Interest: Records on individuals who might pose a threat to the physical safety of protectees or their immediate families. Expands on the the U.S. Secret Service Protective File, originally created in 1983.
  • Gang File: Records on violent gangs and their members.
  • Known or Appropriately Suspected Terrorist File: Records on known or appropriately suspected terrorists in accordance with HSPD-6.
  • Wanted Persons File: Records on individuals (including juveniles who will be tried as adults) for whom a federal warrant or a felony warrant is outstanding.
  • National Sex Offender Registry File: Records on individuals who are required to register in a jurisdiction’s sex offender registry.
  • National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Denied Transaction File: Records on individuals who have been determined to be “prohibited persons” according to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and were denied as a result of a NICS background check. (As of August 2012, records include last six months of denied transactions; in the future, records will include all denials.)
  • Violent Person File: Once fully populated with data from our users, this file will contain records of persons with a violent criminal history and persons who have previously threatened law enforcement.

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