The Liberal Government of Canada has introduced legislation that will expand the use of preclearance facilities by United States border officials in Canada, and authorize Canada to set up such facilities in the United States.
Michael Greene, Q.C. is an immigration lawyer in Calgary. He served as the National Chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship & Immigration Section in 2000-2001. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael joins to provide an overview of Bill C-23, the Preclearance Act, and resulting issues including the presence of armed US border officials in Canada, detention, the application of the Charter and the potential denial of entry to Canadian permanent residents.
The United States currently operates border preclearance facilities at a number of airports and ports in Canada. These are staffed and operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. Travelers pass through U.S. Immigration and Customs, Public Health, and Agriculture inspections before boarding their aircraft, ship, or train.
Bill C-23 will:
- provide United States preclearance officers with enhanced powers, including the ability to carry firearms;
- establish that the exercise of any power and performance of any duty or function by a United States preclearance officer is subject to Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act;
- authorizes Canadian police officers and the officers of the Canada Border Services Agency to assist United States preclearance officers in the exercise of their powers and performance of their duties and functions;
- allows a traveller bound for the United States to withdraw from the preclearance process, unless the traveller is detained;
- authorize Canada to set up preclearance facilities in the United States;
- specifies how Canadian immigration law will apply to travellers bound for Canada who are in preclearance areas and preclearance perimeters in the United States, and extends the application of other Canadian legislation that relates to the entry of persons and importation of goods into Canada to those preclearance areas and preclearance perimeters; and
- deems an act or omission committed in a preclearance area or preclearance perimeter to be committed in Canada, if the act or omission would constitute, in Canada, an offence relating to the entry of persons or importation of goods into Canada.
The Canadian Bar Association’s comments can be found here – http://www.cba.org/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?guid=1b0e8f11-c92b-4d80-859b-1e06c379a538
A copy of the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine and Air Transport Preclearance Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America is embedded below.