Montrealer denied entry into U.S. for wanting to join Women's March on Washington
A Montreal woman claims she was denied entry into the United States after telling border security she planned to participate in the massive Women’s March on Washington protest on Saturday.
“It was one of the most momentous protests in the United States and I wanted to be there to show my support and solidarity,” Mandi Morgan admitted, but when she and a friend arrived at the American border early Saturday, they were told to turn around.
After answering some questions from a border agent, the pair were moved to a secondary inspection area for further questioning, including why they were coming to America.
“I informed him I wanted to participate in the women’s march,” she said. “However, that day I did see on the news that there was an increase in violence in Washington, D.C. I informed him we were watching the news very closely and if it seemed unsafe to go, we would spend the weekend in Maryland.”
“He said, ‘Well, attending a protest is not a good enough reason to be allowed into the United States of America,’” she continued.
She was also photographed and had her fingerprints taken before she was able to leave, which Morgan said made her uncomfortable.
Morgan maintains she has never had issues crossing the border before, and has no criminal record, which is usually cited as grounds for restricting entry into America, or Canada.
She also found the decision arbitrary, she told CTV Montreal, as the bus behind her was headed for the march and was allowed to pass without issue.
“I knew someone on that bus and it was full of people wanting to go down to the protest,” she said. “My process took about an hour and there were 100 people on that bus who would have taken 100 hours to process.”
In a statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Services confirmed "entering the country to participate in a march is not a prohibited act." The statement did not elaborate on why Morgan and her friend were barred from entering the U.S.
Montreal immigration attorney Neil Drabkin said border guards have a lot of leeway in determining who they allow into the United States.
He also surmised breezy trips across the border may become more rare, with a new commander-in-chief at the American helm.
“There’s a new president in the Oval Office and he has said he wants to engage in extreme vetting,” he said. “That message has gone out to all borders and they now do have license to look more carefully at all individuals coming in, including people from Canada.”
-with files from CTV Reporter Amanda Kline