Montrealer heading to Donald Trump inauguration turned away at border

Sasha Dyck was hoping to be in Washington, D.C., Friday for President-Elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, but instead he’ll have to watch the event from north of the border.

‘I think it’s a shame,” says Sasha Dyck, who was carpooling to the U.S. when ordered to turn back

Sasha Dyck does not know why he and a group of fellow Canadians were denied entry into the United States on the day before Donald Trump's inauguration. (CBC)

Sasha Dyck was hoping to be in Washington, D.C., Friday for President-Elect Donald Trump's inauguration, but instead he'll have to watch the event from north of the border.

The dual citizen was denied entry into the United States Thursday when he presented his Canadian passport at the St. Bernard de Lacolle, Que., border crossing. He did not have his American passport with him at the time.

He was with seven other people – five Canadians and two French nationals.

"I went down with people I met over the internet. We went down with two cars and we were turned away at the border," he told CBC.

Dyck said that he wanted to go to Washington to protest Trump and the inauguration.

"I'm also part American and I wanted to be part of sending a signal and a strong message that Americans themselves are not pleased about the development."

Dyck said that he and his fellow travellers told the border agents they were going to Washington, D.C., to take part in Saturday's women's rights march, an event where hundreds of thousands are expected to attend.

They did not mention attending Trump's inauguration.

"We said we were going for the women's march on Saturday – which is true. We did not talk politics at all."

Dyck says they were then held for several hours, fingerprinted and had their cellphones examined.

"At the end they said, 'You have to turn back.' They probably figured Canadians coming down are not going to be sympathetic. They're not there to cheer at the inauguration, especially since we said we were going to the women's march. So they just turned us back."

Dyck said the agents did not say why they were denied entry, but told them that if they tried to cross the border again this weekend, they would be arrested.

"I think it's a shame. I think the U.S. has historically been a very open country -- open to other ideas or open to other people. Perhaps we're seeing the start of them closing in on themselves."

Dyck said he remembers a completely different mood when he went to Washington for Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.

"At that point, the border guard said, 'Come on in!' It was open arms. They were so happy to celebrate with the world. It's going to be a very different feeling this time."

Not obliged to disclose reason for refusal

Chantal Ianniciello, a Montreal immigration lawyer, told CBC that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is not required to tell travellers why they are deemed inadmissible.

In this case, Ianniciello said it is possible that the group may have been sent back because they told the agents they were going to Saturday's women's march while omitting their plans to attend Friday's inauguration.

"If an individual going through the border gives a reason for their trip that might not be the real intent of the trip, the agent can turn them away," she said.

However, Ianniciello said she is stumped as to why Dyck was told that if he tried to cross the border again over the weekend he would be arrested.

"Usually, if an individual is turned back for bigger reasons, such as an invalid passport or driver's licence or visa issues, they will be told."

CBC contacted U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but our calls were not returned.​

With files from CBC's Sarah Leavitt