Tuesday, September 3, 2013

PACE & other regional economic development organizations file amicus brief in push back against expedited removal

The BC Chamber of Commerce, the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce, the Northwest Economic Council and Pacific Corridor Enterprise Council (PACE) have joined together to file an "amicus brief"  in a case pending before a U.S. appeals court (the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals). That case concerns the issue of whether a Canadian citizen seeking entry to the U.S. can be subject to expedited removal by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Currently, British Columbians heading to the U.S. for business or tourism purposes face a border regime that empowers border guards, at their own discretion and without avenue for appeal, to bar Canadians entry to the U.S. for periods of five years or more under an “expedited removal” process.

“This draconian regime flies in the face of open borders and Canada’s long-standing friendship and trading relationship with our neighbours to the south,” said John Winter, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “As our countries strive towards new levels of co-operation through the Beyond the Border Action Plan, these harsh border rules need to be fixed.”

Winter added that the border rules pose a particular threat to B.C. businesses.

“If an overzealous U.S. border guard targets a B.C. CEO or other key company personnel for expedited removal, that company’s business with the U.S. risks grinding to a halt,” Winter said.

An amicus brief is a legal vehicle that allows parties who are not parties to a specific legal action to provide the court with additional information pertaining to the case that is before the courts.

Recent border situations in the Pacific Northwest where Canadians have been placed into expedited removal have involved Canadians seeking entry to the U.S. to attend meetings, visit vacation homes or engage in other travel into the United States.

Greg Boos is the Bellingham-based immigration attorney who authored the amicus brief.

“Allowing CBP to make unreviewable determinations of admissibility into the U.S. invites abuse of discretion,” Boos said.