|FROM ||Rick Moen
|SUBJECT ||Re: [Hangout-NYLXS] Our Friends from Canada love us all
|Quoting Ruben Safir (mrbrklyn-at-panix.com):
> yeah, I took that for granted, accept that I figure there is a treaty
> between the country and that they signed UN conventions and that there
> is rule of Law because Canada is not Afghanistan or Egypt.... sigh.
This is a learning opportunity for you, Ruben. You should consider
listening to me on this matter, as I grew up in an airline family and
have been an international traveler for 53 years, and have visited close
to 100 countries. One of us is fairly expert at this, and I'm pretty
sure it's not you.
> I have a filled passport and NEVER was threatened by anyone in customs
> for border cotrol.
By your account, the officer didn't threaten you. He said they can hold
you for quite a long period of time while they satisfy themselves that
Canadian law is being carried out. That is correct. Border officials
have quite broad authority to detain and inspect arriving travelers,
especially ones from a different country, and you _absolutely_ do not
have the discretion do decide you're tired of it and switch to a flight
home. Any time I go through immigration and customs stations, including
when arriving back in the USA, I prepare myself for the possibility of a
five-hour delay and missed flight connections. Your best move is to be
polite, friendly, relaxed, and patient -- or pretend to be, if you
aren't -- and answer questions directly but minimally and without
One way I like to summarise the basics is: You want to embody an
archetype for the officers' benefit. 'Tourist' is an extremely
well-understood, well-accepted archetype. If you're a tourist, give
nothing but tourist answers (minimal ones).
I've heard a number of small horror stories of science fiction fans
attempting to cross borders to attend Westercons in Canada, Worldcons
in Australia, the UK, Japan, West Germany, Netherlands, Eurocons in
various countries in Europe, or Eastercons in the UK: It almost always
starts with the fan being over-informative to an immigration officer:
'We're here to attend a convention.' Officer is now thinking convention
= business travel, but the visitors are arriving on tourist visas, so
this is irregular and calls for further questioning. The fans should
have been thinking; I'm a tourist. I will give a tourist answer to any
direct question, and then I will then shut up and smile.
You made several blunders.
2. Inadvertently suggesting you're arriving with the wrong visa category.
3. Not just walking through the 'nothing to declare' door. If they
wanted you to stop for inspection or any other reason, they'd have
4. Not being clear to the guy at that door that you have nothing to
declare. It's simple, you say 'You know, I have nothing to declare.'
5. Once in the customs inspection area for people who _do_ have goods
to declare, asking how long it's going to take.
6. Accusing the officer of threatening you.
7. Trying to wave around your rights as a US citizen in a foreign
All of those are recipes for delay at minimum.
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