B.C. business people crossing the U.S. border to do business have new protection against expedited removal laws, thanks to a recent U.S. district court ruling.
Under expedited removal laws, a Canadian trying to cross into the U.S. has faced a regime that empowers border guards, at their own discretion, to bar Canadians entry to the U.S. for periods of five years or more.
However, a January 9 decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal has recognized an exemption to expedited removal laws for Canadians crossing the border for bona fide business or tourism purposes. This is the first time since the expedited removal laws were passed in 1996 that any U.S. court, administrative tribunal or other body has recognized the existence of such an exemption.
“This is great news for B.C.’s cross-border business community,” said John Winter, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce, on Wednesday. “This decision lessens border stress for business people and tourists and promotes cross-border trade.”
Additionally, on December 30, 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection cancelled an expedited removal order that had been issued against B.C. actor Chad Rook on January 28, 2013, when Rook was attempting to cross the border to look for acting work in Los Angeles. Under the order, Rook had faced a five-year ban on entering the U.S.
Winter said the court decision, plus the reversal of Rook’s expedited removal order, sends a strong message to border guards to think twice before issuing expedited removal orders.
“We trust these two decisions will make U.S. border services use the expedited removal process more judiciously,” he said. “And if errors are made, B.C. business people can take comfort that they have legal recourse.”
The BC Chamber participated in the 9th Circuit Court legal case, which looked at whether Canadians seeking entry to the U.S. can be subject to expedited removal, by filing an amicus brief, together with the Bellingham / Whatcom Chamber of Commerce, the Northwest Economic Council and the Pacific Corridor Enterprise Council.
An amicus brief is a legal vehicle that allows parties who are not involved in a specific legal action to provide courts with additional information pertaining to the case that’s before the courts.