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A tale of dumbassery and deportation

A tale of dumbassery and deportation

Old Jan 22nd 2013, 10:25 pm
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Default A tale of dumbassery and deportation

Hi expats!

I've written a few times on the forum about how I could go about staying in Canada longer, coming to terms with going back to the UK after two years, and such things. Well, here's a rather long but hopefully entertaining piece on what happens when you don't take matters of immigration seriously enough, and things go from bad to really nauseatingly bad bad.

I wrote this in early September. I've been back in the UK four months now and it still feels strange. I already know how naive and stupid some of the things I did are, but it's ok if you want to tell me again. Just think of me as one of those guys who does stupid stuff so you don't have to.


Dear friends,

Yesterday morning I decided on short notice to change my travel plans and take a trip down to Portland in the US. This trip has unexpectedly brought about the end to my travels on this beautiful continent as I am now to be deported from Canada.

Be prepared because this is a long read. Here's what happened:

I met Ben at my hostel in Vancouver this morning who said if I'd consider changing my plan to coincide with his trip back to California he would happily drive me to Portland. He would be stopping off at a campsite for the night in one of the many picturesque state parks in Oregon (More like OreGONE am I right?) and we could sleep in his car before completing the journey in the morning. As I write this I'm remembering that were it not for Ben's offer I would have dealt with this day and the mountains and mountains of crap that it curled off in front of me alone, and I owe him a small island of gratitude for all his help and patience and driving abilities.

We spent around 40 minutes in the car waiting for our turn at customs and I played through in my head what I thought was going to happen with the implications of my expired work permit and how this would affect my trip. Yes, it was expired, but I was doing what a lot of people refer to as flagpole-ing, whereby you exit a country as your immigration status is ending in order to re-enter with a renewed status. In my case, my work permit was expired and I was travelling to the US and back to attain a visitors visa to Canada.

At the gate I was intimidated and nervous like anyone who crosses into the United States with a foreign passport. I didn't know what to expect but remembered how easily my last few border crossings had been and so when the officer's first question was "Where do you live?" I found myself totally stumped. I mean, I live in Canada, but I moved out of my place in Ottawa so that's not my home, so do I live in Vancouver? No. I haven't been to England in a year so I don't live there, but that's where I'll live when I get home, obviously. But where do I live now? I don't really live anywhere... man.

He wasn't impressed. "You're homeless", he remarked. And in their border-speak, I'm 100% homeless. The number of homes I own is 0. The number of leases I have signed is 0. I tried to tell him I live with my mum and dad now but he was again unyielding. "No, you're a grown man, if you live with mum and dad that's not your home that's their home. You're homeless".

After that it was obvious my crossing wasn't going to be smooth at all and I started to realise the complexity of the situation. When I imagine the border between the US and Canada I imagine a place you could just turn away from if things didn't go your way. No? Not letting me in? Alright I'll just head back this way then, cheers. What most people probably realise is that once you attempt to get in to the US you're in a kindof no-man's-land with very little room to manouvre. Once inside the immigration hall we weren't leaving under our own terms and to be honest it was looking bleak as soon as we entered the immigration hall.

The US border's main line of questioning was my lack of a residence, my lack of a ticket out of the US, and my lack of a place to stay in the US (I intended to book a hostel once in Portland). I'd encountered issues like this before at the border but never all at the same time and it was these intial problems that led them to more closely inspect my situation and find my expired Canadian work permit. They were very upset about it.

"So, what, you just thought you'd stay in Canada for... twenty-five days after it expired? Because what, because you feel like it? Says right here, MUST LEAVE CANADA BEFORE AUGUST 12TH."

"Yeah, I was under the impression the work permit governed my period of work, which I adhered to when I quit my job on August 3rd. I didn't realise the dates on that were the dates by which I had to leave Canada"

"Do you think the Canadians are gonna let you back in when they see this? If you were trying to get back in to the US and you stayed here with an expired work permit I would be welcoming you to a state detention centre right now. To jail".

The situation evolved into him corresponding with the Canadian border patrol asking them their policy on expired work visas etc. If refused entry to the United States I would be directed to Canadian border patrol to negotiate my re-entry into Canada, just like if I had been admitted to the US and was coming back from my travels. After a few hours he told me he was indeed refusing me admission to the United States because I was "travelling without a home" and staying in Canada with an expired work permit. He explained that while the Canadians had to let me in, they could do whatever they wanted once they had done that. He said "but they're a little more liberal and nice up there so you might be ok". As it happens, I did not "be ok", and when I asked him if there was any advice he could give me on how to best explain my situation to the Canadians he said "You can make up whatever story you want to the Canadians, I could[n't] care less what you say to them". He was your typical US immigration officer but he was having a lot of fun acting the part. I asked him if he'd ever visited Ottawa and he said stiffly,

"No I don't go to Canada"

"Why not?"

"What would be the point?"

Exceptional. What would be the point? He'd no doubt given the answer before but something about the way he said it, with impeccable timing and a humourless expression made me laugh out loud right there. What would be the point? Wow. What a put-down. I did consider very briefly answering that with, "Well, there's the world's first steam-powered clock in Vancouver, perhaps that could be the point". But I said nothing. There really wasn't anything to say to that. Perhaps what he meant was he'd never leave the US because then he'd have to come back and contest the same shit-gauntlet he saw people go through every day at work. I don't know. He probably has visited many times and just says that to measure peoples' responses but it was damned funny. Before I left, he took visible pleasure in informing me that I would "never, ever enter the United States, ever again, without a visa". It was the highlight of his day I'm sure.

The whole time I felt bad for Ben, who had to wait it out with me while his visa process was relatively smooth. I sheepishly asked him, "So, if I don't get in, w- um... will you, drive me back to V-"

"Of course I will", he said. I was awash with gratitude.

Next up, we drove around to the Canadian immigration office and it became quickly obvious this was going to get a lot worse for me. The officer outside took my documents and my letter of refusal to enter the United States and looked at my Canadian work visa. "Well, that's not good", he said flatly.

Inside the offices the lady at the desk was even colder than the guy at the US border. I explained how I thought there must have been a few days' grace period (25 days was pushing it, there's no doubt) before I had to leave to return to be granted a visitors permit but she was incredulous, pointing to the date on the work visa and telling me I was breaking the law and an illegal alien. She explained that immigration had seized my passport, and gave me an ultimatum. I was to book a flight home with a departure date within seven days, with no stopovers, to the UK and show her the proof of purchase on paper before 10:30 that night. It was 7:30pm. The phrase she used that struck me hardest was "We need to make sure you leave our country". I asked if I could book the ticket at the office but she said I couldn't use their computers and they had no wifi. I asked her if she knew a place I could use the internet but she cut me off, "I don't care how you do it, it's not my problem. If you aren't back here before 10:30 with a ticket I'm putting out a warrant for your arrest".

If nothing else it was a clear objective. Find a place with wifi, book the ticket, find a place with a printer, print the ticket, get back to immigration before 10:30. If Ben hadn't been with me I would have had no means of booking a ticket, and no chance whatsoever of doing anything but being arrested and detained. I imagine they would have taken my belongings and locked me in a room at immigration in the airport overnight, at least, before escorting me through security at the airport to my flight home. I really didn't want that to happen.

Ben was pragmatic and supportive as we drove around White Rock, BC looking for a Starbucks or McDonalds or any other place that had free wifi. We stopped in a Starbucks and after an hour of searching high and low for a cheap flight, texting friends to ask them to look as well and let us know if they found anything, I ended up booking what is an exceptionally expensive plane ticket. My first with British Airways. We drove to a Great Western hotel and I explained the situation to the desk guy who was the nicest man I'd spoken to all day. He directed me to the printer in the hotel and I printed the itinerary off. It was 9:30. We drove back to immigration and handed over the documents to the officer.

"$248? That's cheap", she said.

"That's the taxes"

"Oh."

It was an exceptionally expensive flight. She handed me a few forms including a notice of seizure outlining the arrangement at the airport whereby I will pick up my passport on Sunday before my flight. I was issued an "Allowed to leave Canada" form and a photocopy of my passport. Ben and I, exhaused, drove back to Vancouver to book a night at the same hostel we checked out of in the morning. I finished the little whiskey I had leftover with Ben and a girl from New Zealand we met in the kitchen at the hostel. I told her about the day we'd had and she was horrified. "God, I need a cigarette just thinking about it", she said. I went to bed shortly after that.

And that's that. What I'm left with is an overwhelming sense of disappointment and displacement. I'm of course angry at myself for expecting it to go any other way than the way that it did. I felt so free-spirited in the morning, deciding to pick up and drive to Portland with Ben who I'd just met. I wondered what else I'd do on my trip and felt very good about it. There's such a divide between the beaurocratic details of my offense and my own intentions as a traveller here. I lived and worked here for 2 years and would end my trip with a beautiful train journey across Canada, a quick trip to explore the west coast of the US, and some volunteer work on farms in picturesque British Columbia. To the border patrol I'm a care-free hippy living out of a bag whose sole purpose is to sponge money off their respective governments. There's no room for common sense either. What on earth would an illegal alien looking to live illegally for a prolonged period of time be doing taking a trip to the United States if he wanted to remain under the radar? Add the tiniest human consideration to my situation and you've got exactly what it looks like- a guy at the end of his work visa making his way home, looking to explore and take in the sights before he leaves. All of that is of exactly zero importance to Canadian or US immigration, and perhaps that's for the best if for every 50 guys like me they send home they catch someone looking to work under the table or live on the streets or whatever the hell it is they're trying to stop people doing. When you try to cross the border you play under their set of rules exclusively, that's the way they like it, and I played my hand about as bad as I could.

I am sad to leave but it's been a while since I've seen a lot of friends and family at home and I've missed them so much the past 2 years. I can come back to Canada but have to take a lot of extra steps now to ensure they let me in but I'm not going to allow this incident to deter me from coming back whenever I want. I have so much love for this country and will continue to do so regardless of what's happened. I've loved living and learning and working here. It's been a great ride and I'll be back for more. Thanks to everyone who's not an immigration officer and to those in the UK that I've missed. I'm excited to see you in 3 days. Imagine that.

See you soon Canada.

Farewell/Adieu.
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 12:04 am
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Default Re: A tale of dumbassery and deportation

Hey Andre,

Wow want an amazing story! It's amazing how quickly something can go from what you think is nothing at all into a gigantic sh!t storm isn't it!

Sounds like you found out the hard way that there is no flex in the rules when it comes to visa's and stuff.

All though it was abit of an unpleasent end to your travels in Canada, at least they'll let you back in at some point and you'll be able to get some free drinks out of telling people that tale
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 1:01 am
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Default Re: A tale of dumbassery and deportation

Credit to the OP for sharing his tale which hopefully will make others think twice about overstaying or not getting status in Canada sorted out before any stay of any kind expires. Im sure its a lesson learned and a warning that it can happen when you least expect it and you are on your way home when you are least expecting it.
One can say he was lucky that CBSA allowed him to go and book his flight and return as opposed to being arrested and detained in a remand centre until his flight arrangements had been made and no removal order issued.
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 1:40 am
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Default Re: A tale of dumbassery and deportation

That's a great story, you have a knack for writing. It's certainly made me more aware of not overstaying, so thanks for that. Good luck on your return!
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 2:30 am
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Great story. I agree the US border guards can be asshats at times.
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 2:39 am
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Default Re: A tale of dumbassery and deportation

Originally Posted by ExKiwilass
Great story. I agree the US border guards can be asshats at times.
Glad you said US and not Canadian
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 3:18 am
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I know which side my bread is buttered

But seriously - I've never ever had a problem with a Canadian border guard. The US? different story.
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 3:31 am
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I wonder what troubles you would have had if you just said England?

A really well writ story!
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 4:44 am
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Default Re: A tale of dumbassery and deportation

Originally Posted by andre_freedom
Hi expats!

I've written a few times on the forum about how I could go about staying in Canada longer, coming to terms with going back to the UK after two years, and such things. Well, here's a rather long but hopefully entertaining piece on what happens when you don't take matters of immigration seriously enough, and things go from bad to really nauseatingly bad bad.

I wrote this in early September. I've been back in the UK four months now and it still feels strange. I already know how naive and stupid some of the things I did are, but it's ok if you want to tell me again. Just think of me as one of those guys who does stupid stuff so you don't have to.


Dear friends,

Yesterday morning I decided on short notice to change my travel plans and take a trip down to Portland in the US. This trip has unexpectedly brought about the end to my travels on this beautiful continent as I am now to be deported from Canada.

Be prepared because this is a long read. Here's what happened:

I met Ben at my hostel in Vancouver this morning who said if I'd consider changing my plan to coincide with his trip back to California he would happily drive me to Portland. He would be stopping off at a campsite for the night in one of the many picturesque state parks in Oregon (More like OreGONE am I right?) and we could sleep in his car before completing the journey in the morning. As I write this I'm remembering that were it not for Ben's offer I would have dealt with this day and the mountains and mountains of crap that it curled off in front of me alone, and I owe him a small island of gratitude for all his help and patience and driving abilities.

We spent around 40 minutes in the car waiting for our turn at customs and I played through in my head what I thought was going to happen with the implications of my expired work permit and how this would affect my trip. Yes, it was expired, but I was doing what a lot of people refer to as flagpole-ing, whereby you exit a country as your immigration status is ending in order to re-enter with a renewed status. In my case, my work permit was expired and I was travelling to the US and back to attain a visitors visa to Canada.

At the gate I was intimidated and nervous like anyone who crosses into the United States with a foreign passport. I didn't know what to expect but remembered how easily my last few border crossings had been and so when the officer's first question was "Where do you live?" I found myself totally stumped. I mean, I live in Canada, but I moved out of my place in Ottawa so that's not my home, so do I live in Vancouver? No. I haven't been to England in a year so I don't live there, but that's where I'll live when I get home, obviously. But where do I live now? I don't really live anywhere... man.

He wasn't impressed. "You're homeless", he remarked. And in their border-speak, I'm 100% homeless. The number of homes I own is 0. The number of leases I have signed is 0. I tried to tell him I live with my mum and dad now but he was again unyielding. "No, you're a grown man, if you live with mum and dad that's not your home that's their home. You're homeless".

After that it was obvious my crossing wasn't going to be smooth at all and I started to realise the complexity of the situation. When I imagine the border between the US and Canada I imagine a place you could just turn away from if things didn't go your way. No? Not letting me in? Alright I'll just head back this way then, cheers. What most people probably realise is that once you attempt to get in to the US you're in a kindof no-man's-land with very little room to manouvre. Once inside the immigration hall we weren't leaving under our own terms and to be honest it was looking bleak as soon as we entered the immigration hall.

The US border's main line of questioning was my lack of a residence, my lack of a ticket out of the US, and my lack of a place to stay in the US (I intended to book a hostel once in Portland). I'd encountered issues like this before at the border but never all at the same time and it was these intial problems that led them to more closely inspect my situation and find my expired Canadian work permit. They were very upset about it.

"So, what, you just thought you'd stay in Canada for... twenty-five days after it expired? Because what, because you feel like it? Says right here, MUST LEAVE CANADA BEFORE AUGUST 12TH."

"Yeah, I was under the impression the work permit governed my period of work, which I adhered to when I quit my job on August 3rd. I didn't realise the dates on that were the dates by which I had to leave Canada"

"Do you think the Canadians are gonna let you back in when they see this? If you were trying to get back in to the US and you stayed here with an expired work permit I would be welcoming you to a state detention centre right now. To jail".

The situation evolved into him corresponding with the Canadian border patrol asking them their policy on expired work visas etc. If refused entry to the United States I would be directed to Canadian border patrol to negotiate my re-entry into Canada, just like if I had been admitted to the US and was coming back from my travels. After a few hours he told me he was indeed refusing me admission to the United States because I was "travelling without a home" and staying in Canada with an expired work permit. He explained that while the Canadians had to let me in, they could do whatever they wanted once they had done that. He said "but they're a little more liberal and nice up there so you might be ok". As it happens, I did not "be ok", and when I asked him if there was any advice he could give me on how to best explain my situation to the Canadians he said "You can make up whatever story you want to the Canadians, I could[n't] care less what you say to them". He was your typical US immigration officer but he was having a lot of fun acting the part. I asked him if he'd ever visited Ottawa and he said stiffly,

"No I don't go to Canada"

"Why not?"

"What would be the point?"

Exceptional. What would be the point? He'd no doubt given the answer before but something about the way he said it, with impeccable timing and a humourless expression made me laugh out loud right there. What would be the point? Wow. What a put-down. I did consider very briefly answering that with, "Well, there's the world's first steam-powered clock in Vancouver, perhaps that could be the point". But I said nothing. There really wasn't anything to say to that. Perhaps what he meant was he'd never leave the US because then he'd have to come back and contest the same shit-gauntlet he saw people go through every day at work. I don't know. He probably has visited many times and just says that to measure peoples' responses but it was damned funny. Before I left, he took visible pleasure in informing me that I would "never, ever enter the United States, ever again, without a visa". It was the highlight of his day I'm sure.

The whole time I felt bad for Ben, who had to wait it out with me while his visa process was relatively smooth. I sheepishly asked him, "So, if I don't get in, w- um... will you, drive me back to V-"

"Of course I will", he said. I was awash with gratitude.

Next up, we drove around to the Canadian immigration office and it became quickly obvious this was going to get a lot worse for me. The officer outside took my documents and my letter of refusal to enter the United States and looked at my Canadian work visa. "Well, that's not good", he said flatly.

Inside the offices the lady at the desk was even colder than the guy at the US border. I explained how I thought there must have been a few days' grace period (25 days was pushing it, there's no doubt) before I had to leave to return to be granted a visitors permit but she was incredulous, pointing to the date on the work visa and telling me I was breaking the law and an illegal alien. She explained that immigration had seized my passport, and gave me an ultimatum. I was to book a flight home with a departure date within seven days, with no stopovers, to the UK and show her the proof of purchase on paper before 10:30 that night. It was 7:30pm. The phrase she used that struck me hardest was "We need to make sure you leave our country". I asked if I could book the ticket at the office but she said I couldn't use their computers and they had no wifi. I asked her if she knew a place I could use the internet but she cut me off, "I don't care how you do it, it's not my problem. If you aren't back here before 10:30 with a ticket I'm putting out a warrant for your arrest".

If nothing else it was a clear objective. Find a place with wifi, book the ticket, find a place with a printer, print the ticket, get back to immigration before 10:30. If Ben hadn't been with me I would have had no means of booking a ticket, and no chance whatsoever of doing anything but being arrested and detained. I imagine they would have taken my belongings and locked me in a room at immigration in the airport overnight, at least, before escorting me through security at the airport to my flight home. I really didn't want that to happen.

Ben was pragmatic and supportive as we drove around White Rock, BC looking for a Starbucks or McDonalds or any other place that had free wifi. We stopped in a Starbucks and after an hour of searching high and low for a cheap flight, texting friends to ask them to look as well and let us know if they found anything, I ended up booking what is an exceptionally expensive plane ticket. My first with British Airways. We drove to a Great Western hotel and I explained the situation to the desk guy who was the nicest man I'd spoken to all day. He directed me to the printer in the hotel and I printed the itinerary off. It was 9:30. We drove back to immigration and handed over the documents to the officer.

"$248? That's cheap", she said.

"That's the taxes"

"Oh."

It was an exceptionally expensive flight. She handed me a few forms including a notice of seizure outlining the arrangement at the airport whereby I will pick up my passport on Sunday before my flight. I was issued an "Allowed to leave Canada" form and a photocopy of my passport. Ben and I, exhaused, drove back to Vancouver to book a night at the same hostel we checked out of in the morning. I finished the little whiskey I had leftover with Ben and a girl from New Zealand we met in the kitchen at the hostel. I told her about the day we'd had and she was horrified. "God, I need a cigarette just thinking about it", she said. I went to bed shortly after that.

And that's that. What I'm left with is an overwhelming sense of disappointment and displacement. I'm of course angry at myself for expecting it to go any other way than the way that it did. I felt so free-spirited in the morning, deciding to pick up and drive to Portland with Ben who I'd just met. I wondered what else I'd do on my trip and felt very good about it. There's such a divide between the beaurocratic details of my offense and my own intentions as a traveller here. I lived and worked here for 2 years and would end my trip with a beautiful train journey across Canada, a quick trip to explore the west coast of the US, and some volunteer work on farms in picturesque British Columbia. To the border patrol I'm a care-free hippy living out of a bag whose sole purpose is to sponge money off their respective governments. There's no room for common sense either. What on earth would an illegal alien looking to live illegally for a prolonged period of time be doing taking a trip to the United States if he wanted to remain under the radar? Add the tiniest human consideration to my situation and you've got exactly what it looks like- a guy at the end of his work visa making his way home, looking to explore and take in the sights before he leaves. All of that is of exactly zero importance to Canadian or US immigration, and perhaps that's for the best if for every 50 guys like me they send home they catch someone looking to work under the table or live on the streets or whatever the hell it is they're trying to stop people doing. When you try to cross the border you play under their set of rules exclusively, that's the way they like it, and I played my hand about as bad as I could.

I am sad to leave but it's been a while since I've seen a lot of friends and family at home and I've missed them so much the past 2 years. I can come back to Canada but have to take a lot of extra steps now to ensure they let me in but I'm not going to allow this incident to deter me from coming back whenever I want. I have so much love for this country and will continue to do so regardless of what's happened. I've loved living and learning and working here. It's been a great ride and I'll be back for more. Thanks to everyone who's not an immigration officer and to those in the UK that I've missed. I'm excited to see you in 3 days. Imagine that.

See you soon Canada.

Farewell/Adieu.
Thanks for sharing this experience. It has reminded me of being mindful all the time. Do take heart in the knowledge 'what does not kill you makes you stronger'
Good luck with the future.
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 6:01 am
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Default Re: A tale of dumbassery and deportation

Originally Posted by Boogler

Wow want an amazing story! It's amazing how quickly something can go from what you think is nothing at all into a gigantic sh!t storm isn't it!
Andre, I too really enjoyed the way that you told us your story. It can sometimes happen that everything conspires to screw you up. I really hope that all your future travels are of the adventurous and fun variety.
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 6:07 am
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Default Re: A tale of dumbassery and deportation

Hi


Originally Posted by MillieF
Andre, I too really enjoyed the way that you told us your story. It can sometimes happen that everything conspires to screw you up. I really hope that all your future travels are of the adventurous and fun variety.
1. As an aside the OP was not deported, he was "allowed to leave" which is not a removal order.
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 6:57 am
  #12  
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Default Re: A tale of dumbassery and deportation

A few years ago I chatted with a CBP (before it was CBP) officer and he said his role was 1% detecting contraband, 1% apprehending bad guys and 98% protecting Americans' jobs.

They don't like admitting people who do not have a clear plan to leave.

An entertaining read though.
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 6:59 am
  #13  
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Default Re: A tale of dumbassery and deportation

Originally Posted by PMM
Hi




1. As an aside the OP was not deported, he was "allowed to leave" which is not a removal order.
Exactly thats why I stated he was lucky. The good news for the OP is that he could come back tomorrow as opposed to being excluded for a year.
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 10:01 pm
  #14  
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Default Re: A tale of dumbassery and deportation

I was lucky not to get officially deported. The Canadian border official seemed to have a soft spot for me, even if it didn't feel like it at the time. The flip side to being given a chance to book my flight was just that- I had to pay for it. A lot of people have excitedly asked me if "they" paid for my flight home, and I do think if I'd declined the offer to go and book my flight and said I didn't have enough money to book one they would have covered it.

HOWEVER- I did not want to spend any time in a cell. The consequences regarding being allowed back in to the country in the future would have been much more severe. I do wonder though if they are encouraged to give people that "last chance saloon" to save money. That flight was damned expensive and I'm sure Canadian immigration would prefer not to cover the cost.
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Old Jan 23rd 2013, 10:30 pm
  #15  
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Default Re: A tale of dumbassery and deportation

Andre

Thanks for taking the time to share your story. It was an interesting and enlightening read. Good luck for the future.
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