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Discussion Starter #1
Background:

I'm a frequent business traveler. In addition to trips all over the globe, I visit the USA often, at least once or twice a month.

About ten years ago, while crossing back into Canada I began getting strange questions such as:

Have you ever lived in Montreal? No.

Have you ever been charged with a criminal offence? No.

Are you sure?......Blank stare. Yes, pretty sure I’d remember that.


Soon thereafter I started getting sent to secondary and they would ask similar questions, sometimes repeatedly.

I learned that there is a person with the same first and last name and the same birthdate and year as me with a VERY lengthy criminal history.

Someone in my office found a newspaper clipping which explained some of the background. They had to let this guy out of prison on humanitarian grounds as the facility could not accommodate his 430 pound frame.

So, because I knew this case of mistaken identity would likely continue to cause me problems I decided to apply for a Nexus card.

Getting a Nexus requires interviews and background checks by both US and Canadian customs, including scans of your iris.

I figured deliberately submitting myself to that scrutiny would put the mistaken identity issue to rest once and for all.

WRONG!!!!

As long as I use the Nexus lanes, no problem, but when traveling with someone who does NOT have Nexus, you have to use the normal lanes. You still use the Nexus card but they obviously have different information systems.

Here’s the shocking part:


In August I was returning to Canada with my boss (a Director of our company) and a guest from Brazil, crossing at Detroit / Windsor. Both of my guests were Japanese and neither speaks English very well.

The officer at the gate obviously saw the other person's information on her screen and closed the window.

That told me we were likely heading to secondary inspection (a bit of an inconvenience but not the end of the world).

So we drive over to the secondary and WTF!!! We were ambushed (SWATTED) by five armed (guns drawn) officers one of which began screaming at the car. DRIVER!!! HANDS ON THE WHEEL!!! and other commands they struggled to understand.

They then took my guests one by one, forced them to lie on their stomachs on the ground, handcuffed them and led them away (basically terrified).

Then they did the same to me.

As this was the first and only time in my life (and for my guests also) I have been in handcuffs and detained at gun point....well you can imaging it was not a happy experience. In fact it was pretty traumatic.

My Countermeasure:

I contacted our MP who in turn contacted Minister Ralph Goodale. Minister Goodale sent a letter (I have a copy) to our Customs officials.


I also visited our police department and obtained a record including my fingerprints that indicate that as of August, 2018 they had absolutely no record of my existence (yup, a total choir boy).


So, now anytime I travel I carry a file folder about an inch thick with the police report, the letter from Minister Goodale and numerous newspaper clippings about my evil twin.

I hand them that plus my Nexus and watch their eyes widen as they read.

So far this has worked perfectly.



The folder is labeled “ Not a criminal, please read”.




Crazy eh?
 

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Interesting. A friend of mine had an almost identical experience- supposedly there is some other person (criminal) with the same name, same birth date. Was crossing the border and got detained for hours and told he was going to jail, there are warrants for you, etc, etc.

This guy works in aerospace and has to have some fairly serious security clearance so his fingerprints are on file (somewhere) and that's what sorted it out for him. He described the experience as pretty awful and the border agent in the secondary as a complete asshole (as well as a liar saying his photo matched and stuff like that which wasn't true).

I hate going through customs to the US but I have to for my job, luckily it's almost always been a smooth process for me.
 

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That is completely nuts and scary. I used to cross the border frequently on business and I only saw something like that once in hundreds of trips. Must have been terrifying.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Going through US customs is never a problem for me. They aren't always the friendliest but no problems in crossing. No, it's my own customs guys.

I shook it off, but I was freaking pissed. I let the officers have it pretty good while they all said, well, we aren't apologizing because we followed procedure and other CYA statements like that.

I've been advised that I should have lawyered up. If any shit like this happens again I definitely will.
 

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Wow, what a nightmare.

I drove across the US border once, a few questions on the way in, no issues.
Coming back into Canada, a hundred questions and a bit of attitude.
Hey, I live here eh?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Wow, what a nightmare.

I drove across the US border once, a few questions on the way in, no issues.
Coming back into Canada, a hundred questions and a bit of attitude.
Hey, I live here eh?
Well as I said, I travel a lot so I know what to say and what not to say, but this was well outside the normal crap. To be honest, it has sort of galvanized me to the extent that, short of being abducted by a Mexican cartel crossing into Juarez, there's not much worse that can happen to me crossing a border.

I put up with some secondary inspections. I appreciate that we must NOT have an open border, but officers had discretion and the situation I described did NOT need to happen. A few questions would have prevented it.
 

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Not to the extent that you have, but I've had the same evil twin situation (same name and birth date as someone with a lengthy criminal history), and have had many phone calls over the last fifteen years over it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It's not feasible for me to avoid the USA, nor would I want to, but I've had to take pretty drastic measures as described above. It was to the point (shortly after the incident) where people were afraid to travel with me.

Since I put the countermeasures in place we've crossed several times under similar conditions as we had during the "problem" with zero issues.

I must say this. I received very good support from my local MP and from Minister Goodale.
 

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I used to go to cornwall and visit Strings and Things and the local pawnshops to check out deals,came across a few.But everytime i would get pulled over and my car checked to see if I had contraband,everytime I went there.I would be driving back to Ottawa,a police cruiser would pass going the other way and see me and do a U-turn and pull me over and check my car.Got so bad that I stopped going there,they weren't the friendliest bunch.I used to drive a Intrepid,so being Native,I figured maybe they thought I was a smuggler?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I used to go to cornwall and visit Strings and Things and the local pawnshops to check out deals,came across a few.But everytime i would get pulled over and my car checked to see if I had contraband,everytime I went there.I would be driving back to Ottawa,a police cruiser would pass going the other way and see me and do a U-turn and pull me over and check my car.Got so bad that I stopped going there,they weren't the friendliest bunch.I used to drive a Intrepid,so being Native,I figured maybe they thought I was a smuggler?
I'm also a native (Miq Maq) so there are at least three ways I can cross the border:


1. Passport
2. Nexus
3. Status Card

But, customs guys get sticky when you try to use your status card to cross.
 

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Did you report all those involved? If not, hopefully theres no next time.

Our drummer was brought in because someone had the same name. When the tattoos dont match though...
 

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When I was younger the Americans tore my car apart everytime I crossed. I’m always shocked when they just let me go in.

The last time the guy actually rolled his eyes and said something like, “Oh, brother.” When he waived me on I was so stunned I said, “Really?”

I haven’t been down in a while, I’m sure they will want to take the dogs through now. The dogs will be disappointed.
 

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Going through US customs is never a problem for me. They aren't always the friendliest but no problems in crossing. No, it's my own customs guys.

I shook it off, but I was freaking pissed. I let the officers have it pretty good while they all said, well, we aren't apologizing because we followed procedure and other CYA statements like that.

I've been advised that I should have lawyered up. If any shit like this happens again I definitely will.
Pretty sure the procedure includes checking yourself before you wreck yourself. Also, how is the argument of just following orders (same thing) still a thing that people actually think excuses their actions?
 
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