Canadian librarian is not permitted to cross the border


Anna writes "We librarians are a dangerous lot -- especially those Canadian librarians!

Art Rhyno intented to visit the U.S. today to give a workshop on using XML in libraries, similar to one he had given in California three weeks ago. Unfortunately, the border guards found him suspicious and denied entry. "So 4 hours after leaving my home, I am back in Canada, with nothing to show but a flagged status in the security systems of two countries and a cancelled airline ticket."

I sure feel safer. Don't you?"

Update: 02/13 11:35 EST by B:Art has posted an interesting follow up in the comments below.


Wait... it sounds as if Canada denied him access over confusion about whether he was "working" in the United States. I'm as paranoid as any of us about the dastardly Patriot Act, but what is so suspicious about some bureaucrat being obtuse about Art's honorarium?

If you get paid you need a visa appropriate to the job. Since he was getting paid to give his talk, he needed a visa. If he were coming to the States for dinner and a movie he would not.

Making this into some sort of international incident because he was not in the mood to follow the rules is absurd.

The man is a librarian; he should be able to find the regulations regarding work visas. I cannot go to Canada and work without a proper visa, why would he assume he could come to the States and work without a proper visa.

Honorarium or not it was pay; to describe the remuneration in other words is simply a matter of semantics. If you get something of value for performing a service then it is paid work and you need a visa. The fact that he has a US 'tax number' whatever that may be is neither here nor there. Social security numbers, taxpayer identification numbers, and employer identification numbers are given to persons not authorized to work in the States.

I have grown weary of people complaining about how terrible the US immigration policy is, especially after the murderous attack on the World Trade Center. The policy is available to anyone who wants to see it and it is available in their native language.

He did not want to follow the rules; he wanted to give his talk without getting the visa. If he cared so little about the rules he should have just told them he was going to visit a friend.

Not really so simple. U.S. Immigration policy is definitely in need of an overhaul, right after the CIA overhaul, and every other policy of the current administration. I understand and agree that the immigration officer had the RIGHT to keep him from crossing the border, but he certainly could have tried to at least loosen the red tape a bit. I'm still miffed that a security person out in Queens is enjoying the use of my miniature sewing scissors, while I am scissorless. The most important sentence in your comment is the last... "he should have just told them he was going to visit a friend," in which case POLICY would be moot.

Hmmm...I wonder how the status of librarians as professionals under NAFTA comes into play here. I was under the impression it was supposed to facilitate temporary employment in the other country and you could apply at the border as long as you had proof of the temporary job.

It's been a while since I last contemplated fleeing to Canada, so I haven't looked for information lately (though the current regime in the US provides many inspirational moments), but it seems like something that could apply?

By "loosen the red tap a bit," do you mean break the rules, regulations or even the law. If you need a visa to work in this country then you need a visa. If you need a purple hat to work in this country then you need a purple hat. Just because you don't like the rules does not allow you to break them.

Recall if you will that there were 20 hijackers that entered the US in order to kill people, not just Americans, but people of many nations. Remember if you will that 19 of them got through immingration and only 1 was turned around. The officer who turned that last suspected hijacker back is only now being given accolades.

No matter what country in which you live, which person do you want guarding the border, the one who follows the rules, or the one who loosens the red tape?

Please don't take my comments out of context. I said he should just say he was visiting a friend to demonstrate how improper it would have been, just as improper as feeling the immigration control rules do not apply to him because he is somehow special.

I fail to see how your failure to follow the rules about bringing scissors on an aircraft demonstrates anything other than your contempt for the rules and your desire to be just as special as the librarian in the original article. You do not deserve special treatment. If you do not want your items discarded either leave them at home or send them home with a friend or through the mail if you inadvertently bring them to the airport.

Librarians are on the list of professionals who may use TN visas under NAFTA. If the librarian in question had bothered to consult the relevent literature, or even bothered to call the US Consulate he would have been informed of such. Canadians may recieve TN status at the point of entry. To obtain this the traveller must have evidence of Canadian citizenship, an offer letter from the US employer (the body paying the honorarium), educational credentials or licenses, and a CV.

However rather than complete these requirements the librarian in question apparently failed to check and simply appeared at the airport.

Now, if this man were a doctor or engineer then perhaps I would have some sympathy, but the man is a librarian. That is what we do as librarians, research things just like this. It took me less than 2 minutes.

Political nonsense is not part of this discussion. While you may not like the current administration, it is what we have and we must live with it. Rather than making nonsense remarks about fleeing to Canada, or like Alec Baldwin's threat to move to France if Bush were elected, substantive on topic discussion goes a lot farther than grandstanding and rhetoric.

Pierre Salinger said that he would move to France if Bush were elected and he did. I have respect for him, I have none for Alec Baldwin and all of the others who failed to act on their grandiose promises.

Hi folks, I> this story and the main snippet is this:

Ok, I am definitely more comfortable with technology than trying to moderate my inbox right now and the postings at LISnews. To be clear on yesterday's incident, the part that disturbed me was not so much being blocked at the border, it was the lack of recourse and consistency. All of the passengers I was with were put in jeopardy of missing their planes because the shuttle was told they had to drive me back. I am not a stranger to seeing Canadians blocked at the border, but the shuttle company has an arrangement for people in this situation to get a cab back so that the other passengers are not penalised. I also work within walking distance of the bridge, so I was willing to go and get all sorts of proof of my intentions, and create a declaration of non-payment or whatever was required to prove that I would not accept anything that would add to my net worth if that was the issue. I also had paperwork in my bag, which they were not interested in seeing. I was told that I could not enter the U.S. without a H-B1 Visa (which, given the LISnews comments, isn't even the right documentation?). Period, full-stop, and when I asked if the other passengers could continue on, I was told they had to all drive me back. So 10 people took me back to Canadian Immigration, and then had to circle around and go back across the bridge. I am sure anyone on that shuttle will tell you that I was completely polite, and I know people who work in border security and have nothing but respect for what they do. No, it was that a snap judgement had been made, nothing could alter its course, and that there seemed to be a need to punish everyone around me by association. I felt like if I had of said "this shuttle must wait until we are done with this matter", I wouldn't have put many of my co-passengers in danger of missing their flights because the response was predetermined to be the opposite of whatever I requested.

I am indeed a librarian, and am also married to a lawyer who has dealt with border issues, so yes, I probably should have done my homework (I have done so many workshops that my procedure anymore is usually just to show up when required). I did have to help spring a keynote speaker from a conference I hosted in Canada who was put in a holding cell coming from the States, so I know this isn't a unidirectional phenomenon either. But punishing everyone in my shuttle by making them late for their flights just doesn't make sense to me. If the intent was for them to take out their outrage on me, it very clearly failed since my co-passengers were completely sympathetic. Still, Eric Lease-Morgan saved the day for the workshop, and there was probably some sort of cosmic justice in having me get stuck in the same holding area our keynote had been placed in a few years ago while I waited to get processed back into Canada. Maybe I have over-extended my karma with workshops anyway.

Sounds like you did everything you could and
more...Ah yes... "security policies"...
full permission and sadistic joy to petty little tyrant bureaucrats to create havoc, bring everything to a halt, and make you jump through their hoops while patting your head, rubbing your tummy and standing on one foot while moving backwards.

Hello! It sounds like he could have had a TN visa and a signed note from the president in his bag, the border officials were not remotely interested in the rules or anything else. The person was worried about the people travelling with him, if that's not a librarian I don't know what is.

Actually not telling the truth would have caused a worse problem since 1) He (and the people with him) would have been subjected to a greater amount of interrogation, etc and 2) Potentially, he could be banned for life from entering the United States for making false statements.

If you think these visa requirements are onerous one should wait to see the new provisions of the updated USA Patriot Act which, among other things, give the government the right to exile US citizens for life with trial. That's right. They will be able to simply grab you, accuse you of supporting terrorists, and ship you to another country with no trial or appeals.

What a wonderful world we live in!!!

Here it is:

Section 501: Expatriation of Terrorists.
Under 8 U.S.C. § 1481, an American can lose his citizenship by voluntarily, and with the intent to relinquish nationality, taking any of a number of actions, including: (1) obtaining Nationality in a foreign state; (2) taking an oath of allegiance to a foreign state; and, most importantly, (3) serving in the armed forces of a foreign state that are engaged in hostilities against the United States. The current expatriation statute does not, however, provide for the relinquishing of citizenship in cases where an American serves in a hostile foreign terrorist organization. It thus fails to take account of the myriad ways in which, in the modern world, war can be waged against the United States.

This provision would amend 8 U.S.C. § 1481 to make clear that, just as an American can relinquish his citizenship by serving in a hostile foreign army, so can he relinquish his citizenship by serving in a hostile terrorist organization. Specifically, an American could be expatriated if, with the intent to relinquish nationality, he becomes a member of, or provides material support to, a group that the United States has designated as a "terrorist organization," if that group is engaged in hostilities against the United States.

Yes, I agree that it was noble to think of others before himself. However your statement about having a letter from the president and the immigration personnel not being interested in the rules or anything else, is disingenuous. If the traveller had had the correct paperwork, and if he presented it requesting TN status at the outset rather than playing wordgames with the officer he, and the others on the shuttle, would have been happily on their way.

I am sure that everyone appreciates your workshops, and from reading your pages I would love to attend. However having the TN paperwork in hand and presenting it to the ICE officer would most probably have sped you on your way along with the other passengers in the shuttle.

However in the interest of fairness, and to stir up trouble, I called four points of entry Detroit, Buffalo, Miami, and Del Rio, TX. 3 of the 4 knew exactly what TN status was. Miami asked me to hold three times, disconnected me once( although it may have been my mobile phone as well- free long distance but poor reception), and when I called back found a supervisor that knew about TN status. He suggested that all front line personnel may indeed not know about TN, and that if you encounter that problem ask for supervisor.

Having grown up in Buffalo, I have crossed the Peace Bridge point of entry hundreds of times, including twenty or thirty times since 9/11 without a hitch, of course on one in Canada is paying to see me.

If I had to previously spring someone from the gualg I think I would have my papers in order!

How nice you know what legislation will be enacted. Could you please also tell me who will win the Kentucky Derby next year.

Persons who enter illegally are refused entry for five years, I doubt that anyone is going to be permanently barred from the States for saying they are going to visit a friend when they were coming for a conference. Of course my original remark was to demonstrate the slippery slope one faces when they begin disregarding regulations not to suggest that someone lie to Immigration.

Everything is not a conspiracy. There is significantly more paperwork required when someone is denied entry than when they are admitted. Why would anyone want to make more work for themselves?

I did have every paper I could think of in my bag, more than enough for TN status given the postings in my blog, but I was told I couldn't retrieve anything that wasn't a H-B1 Visa, which seems to take months to acquire. With the incarceration of my keynote a few years ago, all that was needed was proof that the conference was a real event. Several people have mailed me to tell me the entire conference circuit would break down if speakers really needed H-B1 Visas, but I wasn't in a good position to dispute this when I was standing at the counter. The supervisor was also consulted in my case, but I was not allowed to speak directly to anyone but the official at the desk. Still, my big dilemma was that I was with 10 people on a commercial shuttle, and at least one of them had a tight connection to make their flight. I have also crossed the border many times, Detroit is actually north of Windsor, and even going for lunch across the Detroit river from both sides is a common occurance. My experience is that you should never push the point on a shuttle if you are refused once from speaking to a supervisor, maybe I should have pressed this but it's a tense environment and the people I was traveling with would have paid the consequences. I am glad to hear that the Miami supervisor thinks that speaking to upper management should be an option, I have never seen this happen in Detroit but even an inkling of an option for recourse is better than nothing. That being said, the workshop was ok without me, and in the scheme of things, if I was going to be barred from the U.S., it would have been much more of a disaster on my California trip since I can't imagine I could have arranged for a substitute so quickly. But I can see no justification for making the shuttle drive me back across the bridge, this cost the passengers at least 30 minutes, and may have led at least one person to miss their flight. The shuttle has an arrangement with a local cab company for these situations, and as near as I can tell, my mistake was in asking if I could use the taxi option so the shuttle could get going (everyone else had, at this point, been cleared for entrance to the States). If they made their flights, then I will consol myself with the fact that they got to see the view of the river from the bridge twice in one morning. Anyway, you are welcome to come to a workshop I give at any time. My favourite library conference in the world,>, will be in Halifax, Nova Scotia this year from Oct. 13 to 16 if you want to start planning a Canadian trip.