In The News: “Winnipeg lawyer saddened, not suprised …”

Published by CBC News on 15 Oct 2015:

Winnipeg lawyer saddened, not surprised by family’s detention at U.S. border

‘These types of situations are increasingly common,’ says Alastair Clarke

A Winnipeg immigration lawyer says his heart goes out to a man who was questioned by customs officers in the United States for seven hours and denied entry into the country.

“He’s a Canadian and, based on the information I have, he had no reason to think anything untoward would happen trying to cross into the U.S.,” Alastair Clarke told CBC News.

Abdelkrim Boulhout said border officials in the U.S. treated him and his wife like terrorists this past weekend.

Boulhout said he, his wife and their four young children were on a family road trip to Grand Forks in North Dakota, but when they arrived at the U.S. border crossing in Pembina, N.D., their vehicle was searched, they were questioned for hours and were eventually asked to withdraw their request to enter the U.S.

Boulhout said he believes the incident was related to the fact that he and his family are Muslim.

Clarke, founder of Clarke Immigration Law in Winnipeg, said he was saddened to hear about the incident, but not surprised.

“Currently, immigration and law enforcement are working very closely to share information, so these types of situations are increasingly common,” he said.

Clarke doesn’t practise U.S. immigration law, but he had general advice for anyone who might find themselves being questioned by border authorities. Co-operation with officials is extremely important, he said.

“These officials have broad discretionary authority,” he said.

Clarke also said if you’re in a situation in which you don’t understand a document, you need to ask for clarification or assistance.

As well, he reminded people never to sign something if they don’t understand it.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection told CBC News it would not comment on specific cases, citing privacy laws and “law enforcement reasons.”