Montrealers bound for Trump inauguration turned away at border
'The first thing he asked us point blank is: are you anti- or pro-Trump?'
CBC has spoken to two Montrealers who were refused entry to the U.S. en route to Washington for Donald Trump's U.S. presidential inauguration today and the women's march Saturday.
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Joseph Decunha, a McGill University physics student, said he had tried to cross the border at Lacolle, Que., at 10 p.m. ET Thursday.
Sasha Dyck, another Montrealer travelling with a different group of people, was refused entry to the U.S. at the same crossing, after telling agents he was hoping to attend the women's march.
Questioned about political views
Decunha, a Canadian citizen, was travelling with his partner and a friend, who are American citizens.
He told CBC that he and his friends told the first border agent they met that they were planning to attend both the inauguration and the women's march. They were then sent for secondary processing.
Decunha said he had a "casual and jovial" conversation with the second border guard, who asked him about his political views and why he might disapprove of Trump.
The guard also asked him if he had ever travelled to the Middle East or if he believed in violence.
Decunha described himself as a pacifist.
"I've never been denied entry at any border crossing before. I have no criminal record. I've never done anything illegal in Canada or in any other country," Decunha said.
Refused for 'administrative reasons'
He said the border guard, after conferring with a supervisor, told him his two American friends could enter the U.S., but he was being refused.
"They told me I was being denied entry for administrative reasons. According to the agent, my travelling to the United States for the purpose of protesting didn't constitute a valid reason to cross," Decunha said.
Decunha said agents then took his fingerprints and photograph, and told him that if he tried again to enter the U.S. this weekend, he would be refused.
He and his friends turned around and came home to Montreal.
"It's concerning to see that at border crossings you're being screened for what your political beliefs are," Decunha said.
"It felt like, if we had been pro-Trump, we would have absolutely been allowed entry."
No comment on specific cases
Border guards are not obliged to give reasons for turning someone away.
In an email to CBC, Kristoffer Grogan, a public affairs officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said he could not comment on the specifics of these cases due to the privacy act.
"All travellers seeking admission to the United States are subject to inspection," the email said. "As a visitor, stating the true purpose of your travel is a key piece of the inspection process."