The B.C. Chamber of Commerce has joined litigation filed in a U.S. court to push back against border measures that pose a serious risk for B.C. businesses and tourists.
Currently, British Columbians heading to the U.S. for business or tourism purposes face a border regime that empowers border guards, at their own discretion and without avenue for appeal, to bar Canadians entry to the U.S. for periods of five years or more under an “expedited removal” process.
“This draconian regime flies in the face of open borders and Canada’s long-standing friendship and trading relationship with our neighbours to the south,” said John Winter, president and CEO of the B..C Chamber of Commerce. “As our countries strive towards new levels of co-operation through the Beyond the Border Action Plan, these harsh border rules need to be fixed.”
Winter added that the border rules pose a particular threat to B.C. businesses.
“If an overzealous U.S. border guard targets a B.C. CEO or other key company personnel for expedited removal, that company’s business with the U.S. risks grinding to a halt,” Winter said.
The B.C. Chamber of Commerce has joined with the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce, the Northwest Economic Council and Pacific Corridor Enterprise Council to file an “amicus brief” in a case pending before a U.S. appeals court (the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals). That case concerns the issue of whether a Canadian citizen seeking entry to the U.S. can be subject to expedited removal by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
An amicus brief is a legal vehicle that allows parties who are not involved in a specific legal action to provide courts with additional information pertaining to the case that’s before the courts.
Greg Boos is the Bellingham-based immigration attorney who authored the amicus brief on behalf of the B.C. chamber and the other involved parties.
“Allowing CBP to make unreviewable determinations of admissibility into the U.S. invites abuse of discretion,” Boos said.
Recent border situations in the Pacific Northwest have involved Canadians who have been placed into expedited removal after seeking entry to the U.S. to attend meetings, visit vacation homes, or engage in other travel into the United States.
The B.C. Chamber of commerce is the largest and most broadly based business organization in the province, representing more than 125 chambers of commerce and 36,000 businesses of every size, sector and region of the province.