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Go to Kitty Reflects11/7/02

Mixed marriages in the racial sense are not uncommon in today's societies of North America and even Europe, although 50 years ago they were actually illegal in many places in the US. While no one will find a law or regulation that explicitly states that a US citizen and resident can not marry a Canadian citizen and resident, our last experience at the border crossing into Canada tells Tom (Paul) and me that immigration agents are allowed to limit, and possibly forbid, visits based on such a false presumption.

It was approximately 4am Friday November 1 2002, when we approached the border guard at Windsor (Detroit) and were not surprised to have him write up the yellow slip and direct us to the Immigration and Customs Office. (Tom (Paul) was bringing back close to the maximum monetary amount allowed and we were prepared with the detailed list of supplements.) We went to the Immigration office first, since this has never been a real problem before and I had a large amount of documentation verifying my residency in the US.

To our surprise, after I answered the immigration agent's question regarding visit purpose - to visit with my Canadian husband at his residence in Toronto until January when we would drive to Arizona and stay 3 months - she announced that we had to have a "joint residence as a couple". Our response was that we don't have one and have been visiting each other since our marriage 2 years ago. (Our marriage certificate is among the documentation I always carry on crossing the border.) She was unmoved and stamped my passport for a one month stay only and stapled to it a form that required surrendering upon my departure. When asked that she show us the law, she replied that she didn't have the laws there and besides, "it's understood". (Additionally, she was totally uninterested in seeing any of the documentation verifying my residence in Arizona, the primary item of interest to all previous agents.)

Biting our tongues till out of the building, we left in disgust. (Customs merely glanced at the list of supplements letting us pass without the intense car searches we've had on our last two entries.) We were exhausted after driving almost 20 hours with just car and human "pit stops", and now we had a new and totally unforseen problem with which to deal.

Recourse to Immigration Canada's (CIC) website, CIC's phone service, and a lawyer specializing in immigration/visa law has boiled down to the fact that Canada's immigration laws gives wide latitude to the agency (CIC) and that the regulations allow for a court hearing only when entry is refused. Since I was not refused entry, I technically have no grounds to protest. (It reminds me of the US Navy where my father explained to me that an officer could only - at that time - protest a bad fitness report, but not a mediocre one.) The lawyer blandly advised Tom (Paul) on the phone that I just become a resident of Canada, as though that were a simple solution to what should be a non-problem. I doubt very much that he could understand Tom's (Paul's) response that we did not see either country an improvement over the other and really did not wish to be citizens of any particular country, but rather of the world in general, free to travel anywhere.

Our surface anger has subsided since last Friday considering that out of 6 entries we have made together into Canada this year, only 1 time did we encounter an agent whose idea of "residence" ran counter to rationality. Based on this, I will depart within the allotted month and re-enter at another location for our planned stay until early January. As one sympathetic CIC employee (for the refugee board, unfortunately, and therefore not able to assist us) suggested, the agent at Windsor was probably envious of two people she saw presumably having a good time travelling back and forth and was going to get some pleasure of her own by creating a problem for them. (Tom (Paul) added at the time that the agent might also have been personally incensed that a Canadian man wasn't satisfied with a Canadian woman but sought a USer instead.) It's a sad indictment, but true, that there are some people who don't like "mixed marriages" of any type and will, if they are in a government bureaucracy - which by its nature permits them power of force - create difficulties with enormous pleasure.


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