Montreal woman’s ordeal at U.S. border like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces

Manpreet Kooner, pictured with her fiancé was on her way to a Vermont spa. (Photo submitted by Manpreet Kooner)
Manpreet Kooner, pictured with her fiancé was on her way to a Vermont spa. (Photo submitted by Manpreet Kooner)

Weekend getaways to the United States are practically a national past time for Canadians, even when our dollar is well below parity. Getting to the border is often inconsequential: show your passport(s), state what your plans are to the customs agent and off you go.

Not so for Montreal resident and Canadian citizen Manpreet Kooner who was on her way for a spa weekend in Vermont with two friends. She said she was held for six hours before being turned away. Kooner, who was born to Indian parents in Canada and raised here, says her white friends were not questioned but the trio never made it.

Trying to figure out why she wasn’t allowed into the U.S. is akin to solving a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. Kooner was stopped at a New York border crossing in December while trying to visit a winery. After filling out numerous forms, she was admitted to the country the next morning after a computer glitch prevented her initial entry. Separately, Kooner’s mother was denied entry to the U.S. last summer with no reason given.

Her next step? Visiting the U.S. embassy to apply for a visa, only to be told she actually had no reason to need the document to cross the border, as the majority of travellers from Canada are admitted without issue.

U.S. immigration lawyer Leslie Holman, speaking with CBC News suggested that it did not appear that there was a reason Kooner would need a visa to enter the country.

Kooner told CBC News that she felt singled out and that border agents did not speak to either of her friends. “I feel targeted. I'm set aside from everyone else, and I feel helpless because I keep asking, 'What do I need to do?”

If you plan to cross the border for March Break, this article has many handy tips and information on what to do and not to do as a result of the current climate toward some minorities in the U.S.
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