Summary of 2012 U.S. Border Enforcement Efforts: Border Security Becoming More Stringent

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United States Customs and Border Protection release statistics regarding their 2012 border enforcement efforts. Pardon Services Canada comments on the challenges persons with criminal records can face when entering the United States.

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In 2012, CBP officers inspected more than 350 million travelers to the United States and arrested nearly 7,700 people wanted for serious crimes at U.S. ports of entry.

Back in February of this year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released a summary of fiscal year 2012 border enforcement efforts. The CBP is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control, and protection of U.S. borders at and between the official ports of entry. In 2012, CBP officers inspected more than 350 million travelers to the United States and arrested nearly 7,700 people wanted for serious crimes at U.S. ports of entry. As a result, the CBP prevented almost 4,200 high-risk travelers from boarding flights destined for the U.S. This represents an increase of 32 per cent compared to 2011.

Every year, thousands of Canadians travel to the United States for work, vacation, business, and pleasure. However, Canadians are subject to the Immigration and Nationality Act of the United States, which contains several provisions related to criminal records and admission to the U.S. Specifically, the Act renders inadmissible foreign nationals who have been convicted of a controlled substance violation, or who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.

According to CBP, officers in 2012 stopped nearly 145,000 inadmissible aliens from entering the U.S. This number includes all those persons who were denied on grounds of criminality. The most common offenses which may result in inadmissibility include: possession of narcotics (including marijuana), possession of stolen property, fraud, and theft over $1,000. For example, the most recent statistics from Justice Canada indicate that about 600,000 Canadians have criminal records for the comparatively minor offence of marijuana possession. All of these Canadians can potentially be denied entry into the United States at the border.

Any Canadian who has been convicted of such crimes must obtain a nonimmigrant waiver from CBP. Such waivers generally take six to eight months to obtain and thus should be applied for far in advance of the planned entry into the U.S. Companies like Pardon Services Canada can help individuals with the U.S. Entry Waiver and/or Record Suspension application process.

With respect to granted Canadian pardons, now known as record suspensions, Pardon Services Canada indicates that the U.S. government does not recognize them. Therefore, even if an individual has successfully obtained a record suspension, sealing their criminal record, it is still accessible at any port of entry because the CBP database contains information regarding foreign criminal convictions. A Canadian pardon will not seal the record for border-crossing purposes. A U.S. Entry Waiver must be obtained.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has more than doubled the size of its Patrol since 2004. In 2012, CBP employed more than 21,300 Border Patrol agents, keeping staffing levels along the border at an all-time high. Canadians with criminal records should be more careful than ever when it comes to entering the United States.

Pardon Services Canada is an industry leader in the business of helping Canadians overcome the obstacles of a criminal record. Since 1989, PSC has successfully assisted over 100,000 Canadians exercise their lawful rights under the Criminal Records Act of Canada and the Immigration and Nationality Act of the United States.

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Anna Sergeyeva
Pardon Services Canada
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