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Canadians can lose Nexus passes over legal cannabis use in Canada: U.S. document – Global News

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Cannabis use may be legal in Canada, but if U.S. border guards find out about it, a person could have their Nexus pass taken away or not granted in the first place, secret instructions issued to managers at U.S. border posts say.

“If an alien admits to the use of marijuana (post legalization) he or she is technically admissible to the U.S., but would not be eligible for a Trusted Traveller Program,” the instructions say.

The instructions were intended only for supervisors at U.S. border posts and weren’t supposed to be circulated below their rank level. Lower-level border officers got much simpler material.

A software developer on the West Coast, who did not want to be identified for professional reasons, found out about the rule the hard way.

A dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, he went to renew his Nexus card at the Vancouver airport, a process that needs interviews with both Canadian and U.S. officials. The Canadian interview went smoothly, but the trouble began with the U.S. one.

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“He just started asking rapid-fire questions: ‘Have you ever had a DUI?’ He was just looking for something,” he said.

“Finally he asked, ‘Have you ever smoked marijuana?’ He kind of curved his shoulders and looked at me.

“I told him I tried it when it became legal in Canada, but I don’t have any desire for it. I don’t like marijuana.”

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Later he got an e-mail saying his renewal had been denied on the basis that he is “not a low-risk person.”

“The worst I’ve ever gotten is a speeding ticket,” he says. “I can’t believe this is actually happening to me. Even though it’s federally prohibited in the U.S., it’s legal in Canada. How can you hold that against me? It doesn’t make any sense.”






1:47
Prospective Canadian cannabis investor gets lifetime U.S. entry ban


Prospective Canadian cannabis investor gets lifetime U.S. entry ban

The Customs and Border Protection policy creates a dangerous trap for people who don’t see a problem with admitting to legal cannabis use and are then surprised to find their pass taken away for life, says immigration lawyer Len Saunders.

“I get lots of phone calls from people who run into issues with the Nexus program,” he says. “As a U.S. attorney right at the border, they’ll call me and say, ‘I had this really weird situation that happened, I was conditionally approved, I went into the Nexus office, and I was basically interrogated by an American officer on my legal use of cannabis in Canada, and I walked away basically being told I wasn’t eligible.’

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“The people are dumbfounded. When I tell them there’s really not a lot I can do, they’re shocked.”

It’s been clear that a policy along these lines has been enforced, lawyers familiar with the issue say, but a written copy hasn’t been public until recently, when it surfaced during a lawsuit.

The language used internally is clearer and harsher than in CBP’s media talking points about the issue, which use words like “could” and “may.” It’s also much clearer that it’s referring to legal use, not illegal use before October of 2018; the public talking points could be read either way. It also appears to include medical use as a ground for refusal.






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Think twice about asking for a pardon, border lawyer says


Think twice about asking for a pardon, border lawyer says

Nexus cards allow pre-screened travellers to cross the border easily, often skipping long lines.

The U.S. rule also applies to the less well-known FAST program, which is designed to let commercial truck drivers cross the border easily.

“Usually it’s someone who’s younger, in their teens or early 20s,” Saunders says. “The officers will frequently ask if you’ve ever used cannabis in the past. A lot of times people admit to it, whether they’ve done it before legalization in Canada or after.

“They don’t realize that if they’re asked that question and they admit to it, it’s basically the kiss of death to getting a Nexus card. It’s an immediate denial and a lifetime ban from the program.”

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The CBP instructions list 30 different cannabis-related scenarios that could come up at the U.S.-Canadian border, with correct solutions. All of the solutions are censored.

The lawsuit stems from a U.S. freedom-of-information request originally filed with CBP by Davis Wright Tremaine, a large Seattle-based law firm with a cannabis law practice.

The FOIA request was aimed at finding out the legal basis for CBP’s decision to treat Canadians with ties to the legal U.S. cannabis industry as “drug traffickers” liable to be banned from entering the U.S. for life.

Cases of this happening to unwary Canadians regularly come to light.

In 2018, senior executives in a Canadian farm equipment company were banned for life when they tried to cross the border to do a sales demonstration of a cannabis bud trimming machine. In a separate case, a B.C. man who admitted that he’d invested in a legal grow facility in Nevada was also banned for life.

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(In the U.S., cannabis is federally illegal but legal in several states; the tensions and contradictions that result create traps for unwary non-Americans.)

In 2018, CBP said it would also bar Canadians working in the fully legal Canadian cannabis industry, but reversed this position a few days before legalization.


READ MORE:
In major shift, the U.S. says it won’t ban Canadian pot workers

Davis Wright Tremaine’s lawyers take the position that they haven’t been given all the documents they’re entitled to, which led to the lawsuit. The goal is to find out what CBP thinks the legal basis is for policies like banning Canadians for life for involvement with the U.S. cannabis industry, says lawyer Chris Morley.

“There does appear to be, from CBP’s actions and statements, an actual policy that they’re implementing. There appears to be an interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act that they have turned into a policy. It appears that they developed this policy in April of 2018, and they started implementing it then.”

Morley says it isn’t clear to him how CBP justifies policies like these, based on the laws the agency is supposed to be enforcing.

“Really, the long game is to try to figure out what CBP’s policy is. CBP officials have discussed the policy, but we don’t know what it is.”

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Global News asked CBP whether the rule in the manual was still their policy, what the legal authority for it was, and why the language intended for the public was milder than the language used internally. They refused to comment, citing ongoing litigation.

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Past marijuana conviction could still prevent U.S. border crossing


Past marijuana conviction could still prevent U.S. border crossing

Significantly, the instructions advise CBP officers not to try to use a law excluding people from the U.S. for being a “drug abuser or addict” on Canadian cannabis users.

Since U.S. law assumes that any level of use of controlled substances like cannabis is “abuse,” there have been concerns since legalization that it could be used to ban any Canadian cannabis user, no matter how occasional their use was.

“It is recommended that this ground of removal not be used due to being difficult to sustain,” the instructions say. However, the explanation that follows only addresses addiction and not abuse, a much looser category.

(No case of the provision being used this way has become public.)






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Canadian lawyer questions government advice to be honest at U.S. border


Canadian lawyer questions government advice to be honest at U.S. border

The application for a Nexus card asks about a criminal record but not about drug use, licit or illicit. Questions about cannabis use, if any, come up at the U.S. interview.

Bellingham, Wash., immigration lawyer Scott Railton represented an elderly American couple who were denied Nexus cards after admitting in an interview that they used CBD to help them sleep, he says. CBD is legal in the U.S. in most contexts.

“It is both confusing and ridiculous,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The information was volunteered to be candid and truthful in relation to a certain question.”

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READ MORE:
Pay cash for pot if you can, federal privacy commissioner urges






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Trudeau asked to provide pot-users with advice on crossing U.S. border


Trudeau asked to provide pot-users with advice on crossing U.S. border

About 6.1 million Canadians used cannabis at least once in mid-2019, Statistics Canada says. About 1.4 million Canadians, and 400,000 Americans, have Nexus passes, the CBSA told Global News.

If asked the question, Saunders advises refusing to answer it. Not answering doesn’t have long-term consequences, but an admission does.

“I live in fear,” Saunders says. “I work right at the port of entry, in northern Washington State. I cross back and forth frequently. I live in fear that some silly decision by an officer could affect my Nexus privileges.

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“It can be life-changing. If someone has to cross over on a daily basis and they lose their Nexus privileges, or they’re not issued a Nexus card when they move to this area, what happens is that they have to change their job, they have to change where they live. It’s unfortunate if it happens to be an admission to smoking cannabis, when legally they’ve done nothing wrong.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Israel and Palestine agree to a ceasefire

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Cairo, Egypt- Israel and Palestinian militants have agreed to a ceasefire truce following the intervention of Egypt.

Over the past three days, at least 44 civilians and militants have been killed making it the worst flare-up between Israel and Gaza militant groups since Israel and Hamas fought an 11-day war last year.

The fighting has badly damaged Islamic Jihad, Gaza’s second-largest militia. Two of its key leaders are now dead and many of its bases and weapons factories have been destroyed, factors that allowed Israel to claim victory in this round of fighting.

In an official statement, the Jewish State’s Public Diplomacy Directorate said that it would halt its air campaign on Gaza, but would strike back forcefully if the truce is broken.

The terms of the agreement were not immediately made public. However, Egypt’s official State news agency reported that in the push for a truce, Cairo was working to see the release of an Islamic Jihad militant captured by Israel six days ago, as well as ensure a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike in an Israeli jail would be transferred to a hospital for medical treatment.

“Our fight is not with the people of Gaza. Islamic Jihad is an Iranian proxy that wants to destroy the State of Israel and kill innocent Israelis. The head of Islamic Jihad is in Tehran as we speak. We will do whatever it takes to defend our people,” said Israeli interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Israeli aircraft have pummelled targets in Gaza since Friday, while the Iran-backed Palestinian Jihad militant group has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response.

Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas, and little is known about its arsenal. Both groups call for Israel’s destruction, but have different priorities, with Hamas constrained by the demands of governing.

Since the last war, Israel and Hamas have reached tacit understandings based on trading calm for work permits and a slight easing of the border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt when Hamas overran the territory 15 years ago. Israel has issued 12 000 work permits to Gaza labourers and has held out the prospect of granting another 2000 permits.

Before the cease-fire was agreed to, Israeli analysts largely portrayed the episode as a victory and even a warning to Israel’s other enemies in the region particularly Hezbollah, the Islamist militia in Lebanon of the fate that awaits them should they also enter into full-scale combat with Israel in the near future.

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House ethics committee begins second day of hearings into RCMP use of spyware

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OTTAWA — The director of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab says spyware is “like a wiretap on steroids,” and it requires more oversight and a much higher threshold for use than traditional wiretaps.

Ron Diebert will speak to the House of Commons ethics committee as part of its probe into the RCMP’s use of spyware in 32 investigations in the last five years.

In prepared remarks provided to The Canadian Press, Diebert says what he calls the “mercenary spyware industry” is poorly regulated and associated with widespread abuses.

He says the industry is a threat to civil society, human rights and democracy and governments should be transparent about procurement of this technology.

Yesterday, senior officers told the committee the RCMP does not use the controversial Pegasus spyware, but refused to disclose details about the technology it is using, citing national security concerns.

The RCMP also says while the technology is new, the invasion of privacy on a digital device is similar to what police have done for years through wiretapping and installing surveillance cameras.

Federal privacy commissioner Philippe Dufresne told the committee the Mounties didn’t notify his office before starting to use the technology, and he learned about it through the media.

He’s called on MPs to make changes to privacy legislation that would require government departments and organizations to launch privacy impact assessments whenever new technology is introduced that could have an impact on the “fundamental right to privacy.”

Dufresne’s predecessor Daniel Therrien will also appear before the committee today, along with the president of the Privacy and Access Council of Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.

 

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Dawn Walker: Sask. woman facing charges in U.S., Canada – CTV News

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SASKATOON –

Federal prosecutors in the United States have accused a Saskatoon woman of faking her own death and that of her son in what they describe as an elaborate scheme to illegally enter the country.

Kevin Sonoff, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon, says 48-year-old Dawn Marie Walker is being detained as a flight risk as she faces two charges related to identity theft.

Walker was reported missing with her seven-year-old son last month. Police discovered them “safe and well” in a rental unit in Oregon City on Friday, following two weeks of search-and-rescue efforts that included scouring the South Saskatchewan River and its banks, where her pickup truck was abandoned.

Court documents filed Monday in Oregon allege Walker “went through extreme efforts to steal identities for her and her son that allowed them to unlawfully enter the United States and hide.”

The documents allege she “thoughtfully planned and engaged in an elaborate ruse in which she faked her death and that of her son.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has charged her with the felony offence of knowingly producing a passport of another person and a misdemeanour charge of possessing identification that was stolen or produced illegally.

The felony charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison if found guilty, while the misdemeanour charge carries up to six months’ imprisonment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Saskatoon police said they have charged Walker with public mischief and parental abduction in contravention of a custody order, and are looking to extradite her back to Canada.

The boy was returned to Canada on Sunday after a legal guardian picked him up, police said.

Saskatoon police said they began searching for Walker and her son on July 24 after friends reported them missing.

Her red Ford F-150 truck had been found at Chief Whitecap Park, just south of Saskatoon, along with some of her belongings.

The court documents allege Walker took the identities of a colleague and that colleague’s child to open a bank account, and she bought an SUV and drove across the border on July 23. Saskatoon police said she crossed the border south of Lethbridge, Alta., into Montana.

An affidavit from Clinton Lindsly, a special agent with Homeland Security, says Walker and her son’s biological father had been engaged in a lengthy custody dispute and she was supposed to return the boy on July 25.

Lindsly says in the document he told Walker, after her arrest, that “people presumed that she and her son died in the river, to which she spontaneously stated, ‘He doesn’t want to be with his father.”‘

The court documents further allege Walker “put a lot of time and effort in planning her crime.”

The documents say officers found a series of notebooks and handwritten notes in Walker’s SUV that included a checklist: dye hair, cover tattoo, pack car, get toys, throw phone in water, ditch car by bridge, possibly buy fishing rod and find the nearest border.

The documents say Walker has no ties to the U.S. and allege she funded her scheme through hidden financial accounts and assets totalling over $100,000.

“The defendant’s kidnapping of her child is extremely serious. While the child has been safely rescued there are no assurances that if the defendant were released she would not try once again to kidnap her child,” say the court documents.

Walker, who remains in custody, is to next appear in court in Oregon on Sept. 7. A defence lawyer believed to be representing Walker could not be reached for comment.

“As the criminal investigation progresses, there may be further charges that Ms. Walker will face as a result,” Saskatoon police Deputy Chief Randy Huisman said Monday.

“Investigators are looking at several different charges, and in relation to the false identity documents that were alluded to, and how she was able to prepare those documents.”

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, where Walker worked as its chief executive officer, had organized a vigil and walks through the park to raise awareness about the disappearance of the woman and her son.

The federation also issued its own Amber Alert for the pair, and asked police to do the same. Police said there wasn’t evidence to suggest they were in imminent danger.

The boy’s family said in a statement Saturday that “over the past two weeks of hell,” all they had wished for was the safe return of Walker and the boy.

“When we found out they were both safe, there was sobbing, laughing, dancing, shouting, throwing of shoes and hugging.”

Walker, who is from Okanese First Nation, is also a well-known author. Her recent book “The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour,” published under the name Dawn Dumont, was named last week as a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Aug. 8, 2022.

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