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Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale answers a question during in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Feb. 6, 2017. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale answers a question during in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Feb. 6, 2017. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Nexus cards reinstated pending court decision on Trump order Add to ...

About 200 Canadian permanent residents who had their Nexus cards revoked because of the Trump immigration ban have had their trusted-traveller passes reinstated.

In a statement Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the reinstatements were confirmed by U.S. officials, who have been in regular contact with their Canadian counterparts.

“Some 200 Canadian permanent residents had their Nexus cards revoked a few days ago because the recent presidential executive order rendered them ineligible. But now that the order stands suspended, those 200 Nexus cards have been reinstated, pending further court decisions yet to come,” Mr. Goodale said.

“The government of Canada continues to work to ensure all Canadians are treated in a fair and expeditious manner.”

U.S. President Donald Trump recently ordered a 90-day ban on the entry of people from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. Shortly after, some Nexus card holders in Canada reported their cards being revoked.

Mr. Goodale noted that the situation is “complex” because of a recent judicial suspension of the executive order and the appeal of that suspension. He said Nexus card holders who feel they have been treated unfairly by the eligibility decisions taken by the U.S. government can seek recourse by calling (202) 325-8000.

Nexus cards give “low-risk, preapproved travellers” preclearance at designated ports of entry when travelling between Canada and the United States, allowing them to avoid long lineups and waiting times.

In order to become a Nexus member, applicants must go through a rigorous screening process, including an application form, where they provide information about their work, travel and residence history, and an in-person interview with a Canada Border Services Agency or U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer. Applicants pay a $50 processing fee for a five-year membership; for children under the age of 18, it’s free. As of December, 2016, there were 1.49 million members in the Nexus program – the majority of whom are Canadians, according to the CBSA.

Toronto lawyer Cyndee Todgham Cherniak said she has heard from several Canadians and some permanent residents in Canada who have had their Nexus cards revoked since the Trump directive was signed. She said some of the individuals have dual citizenship with one of the seven countries named in Mr. Trump’s immigration ban while others only have Canadian citizenship, with no ties to any of the affected countries.

As of Wednesday, she said none of her clients had told her that their Nexus cards had been reinstated.

Last week, Ms. Todgham Cherniak said each of the individuals received a letter from U.S. Customs and Border Protection telling them they were no longer eligible for Nexus membership, with no further details provided. Because none of them have broken customs or immigration laws, provided false information or been convicted of any crimes, she said she can only assume that they have been deemed by the United States to be not of “good character,” a determination that can be made by U.S. officials to strip an individual’s Nexus membership.

“The U.S. must be taking the position that if you come from one of these seven countries, then you’re no longer a good character,” Ms. Todgham Cherniak said. “It’s nothing that they’ve done, an action that they’ve taken – it’s based on where they were born.”

Mr. Goodale said last week that there is an appeal process in place for people who feel they have been treated unfairly in having their Nexus cards revoked. However, Ms. Todgham Cherniak said that process is not simple for Canadians, as it often takes months for the U.S. ombudsman to respond to complaints and little transparency is provided. She called on Mr. Goodale to intervene directly.

“What would be preferable would be to have Minister Goodale work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to have a fair, transparent [appeal] process.”

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has said the government received assurances from the United States that Canadian dual citizens and permanent residents in Canada who are citizens of one of the seven countries named in the ban will still be allowed to cross the border. However, a State Department official added last week that permanent residents of Canada who hold passports of a restricted country must obtain a visa to enter the U.S. and can only do so through a Canadian land border or port of entry with preclearance services.

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