The owner of a hip-hop record label based in Detroit says he has launched a lawsuit against Canadian immigration officials over alleged racial profiling of black hip-hop stars.
Jerome Almon names 95 border guards and two former federal ministers of immigration, Denis Coderre and Elinor Caplan, in the lawsuit filed in Michigan last week.
Almon told CBC radio he has been detained andquestioned at the border 117 of the last 120 times he crossed into Canada.
He is claiming $900-million US in damages in the suit, saying his right to do business in Canada is being impeded by harassment at the border.
"My complaint is rather simple. I'm alleging that Canada Customs and Immigration are barring me from entering Canada to conduct business because I'm a black rapper from Detroit," he said.
Almon owns Murdercap Records, a moniker that reflects Detroit's status as murder capital of the U.S.
He represents Canadian artists and claims to have recorded recent albums in Toronto and Ottawa.
But when Almon tries to cross the border, he is held up for 45 minutes to three hours, he said.
"Their claim is that I have not turned in a police clearance to enter Canada as required by Canada Immigration and that I have a criminal record," he said.
Almon said he has never been convicted of a criminal offence, but he has been arrested twice and those arrests have stayed on his file.
Earlier appeals have failed to resolve problem: Almon
Appeals to earlier immigration ministers and to the Ontario Human Rights commission have failed to correct the problem, he said.
Although Almon's lawsuit was launched in Michigan, he cites the Canadian Charter of Rights, which would not apply there. He also says international law protects his right to conduct business.
Almon's songs include On Ya Neez Bitch and How Stella Got My Backhand.
A female police officer who was called to the border at one attempted crossing listened to the CD and hated the music, he said.
He claims to have the support of Canadian hip-hop artists for his campaign.
Almon hasbeen makingpublic complaints about racial profilingat the border since 2003.
There has been no official response from Canada.