Monday, May 7, 2007

Post 911 Grief

You know, sometimes life is just incredibly ironic. I read this evening about a fellow blogger (a Canadian) crossing the US/Canada border today for a speaking engagement in the states, and it would appear he had very little issue with the border guards. I'm glad for him, border crossing isn't always event free.

Such is the case with someone else that tried to cross the border today. My sister in law (a Canadian) was interviewed for a lucrative job in Atlanta 2 months ago, and they hired her on the spot. Due to the fact that she's Canadian and the job is in the US, it's taken her some time to get all her paperwork in order to go to the states to work, and to live. She also sold pretty much everything she owned and planned to start fresh in Atlanta. All she had left, was what she had in her car, and her two dogs. She was absolutely meticulous with her paperwork, and had everything ready when she got to the border early this morning.

When she arrived at the border, she stated her business to the US border guard. They always ask why you're entering the country - to visit, to shop, or whatever. She told them she was hired at a place in Atlanta and she was coming down to start her job. The first thing out of the US border guard's mouth was "what, they couldn't find an American to do the job?". That began a grueling, condescending and humiliating 3+ hour event at the border, which resulted in them denying her access to the US, and sending her back.

She was still in tears when she called us hours later, to tell us they refused her entry into the states on a "technicality" that neither she or her US based employer knew anything about.

Now, here's why this is so ironic. After 911, when it became nearly impossible for most people (whether they admit it or not) to not feel uneasy about certain Eastern nationalities, the US/Canadian immigration folks were under heavy pressure and much scrutiny to tighten up the borders, and keep things under a more firm control. I get that, and I think everyone else gets it too. The more strict we are at the border, the less likliehood there is of another terrorist attack - or so the theory goes.

Here's the issue though. My sister in law is 5 foot tall, 100 pounds soaking wet, blonde haired and blue eyed with 2 tiny little dogs in her car. Not a single run in with law enforcement ever, and carrying a stack of paperwork to prove she had a job in Atlanta, and that's where she was headed. And yet... she was refused entry.

It's a go figure.

Now I know someone would likely say "well rules are rules!" and yes they are. But I find it ironic that the very people we need to keep out of our countries (both US AND CANADA) are the people who seem to have free passage, and the law abiding North American born citizens (at times) are the ones suffering for all this post-911 change.

I have no idea what my sister in law will do now. She's devastated, without a home, and has sold everything she owns to take this job in the states (and be closer to her dad, who lives down there). I'm sure she'll figure something out, as she's pretty resourceful that way. It just should have never happened in the first place, and leaves me feeling very reluctant to ever try and cross the border again. And I'm an American.

How's that for irony?