After crossing the border without issue dozens of times in recent years, a man from the U.S. with a fiancee and toddler in Ontario says he was indefinitely barred from Canada last month after a border agent took issue with a set of charges placed on him more than a decade ago.
Ohio resident Jimmy Bailey is a father to six children, five of whom live in Aurora, Ont. with his fiancee, Emily. While Bailey is an American, Emily and the children are Canadian citizens. On most days, Bailey says he serves as a stay-at-home-dad in Aurora to his toddler, Lachlan.
But, Bailey hasn’t seen his fiancee or kids since late March, when he says he was told by a Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) employee that he’d been barred from the country indefinitely.
“It’s been miserable,” Bailey said in an interview from his parent’s basement in Ohio, where he’s been sleeping since being told he cannot return to his family.
Since meeting Emily in 2018, Bailey says he’s crossed the Canada-U.S. border dozens of times a year and, when COVID-19 hit and he sold his business in 2020, those trips increased significantly. He said he doesn’t understand what made the last crossing any different.
“Why in the world would the Canadian government allow me in, probably, 500 times without incident and then all of a sudden say, ‘Oh, wait?’”
Bailey, like anyone with a criminal record, has legal avenues available to gain entry into other countries, but experts say many people don’t know they’re inadmissible, let alone of their options to gain back eligible status. Now that Bailey is aware, he said he’s actively working with a lawyer to try and re-enter Canada, but in the meantime, his young son has grown confused and upset.
“He thinks I’m at the store,” he said. “It’s really, really sad, he doesn’t understand why I can’t come back and every time I talk to him, he cries.”
‘INADMISSIBLE TO CANADA’
In the early hours of March 27, Bailey said he was making the 10-hour drive from his parents’ home in Ohio back to Canada.
After arriving at the Peace Bridge border crossing, he says he was flagged by a border services agent and told to report to customs, where he was asked “all the usual questions.”
“I waited about 45 minutes and then [the agent] called me up to the glass and said, smiling, ‘Oh, you’re inadmissible to Canada, actually,’” he recalled.
“And I said, ‘What are you talking about? I have a son. I’m a stay-at-home dad to kids with special needs. My wife goes out and works,’” he said.
However, the agent had made up their mind, he said, citing two charges placed on Bailey as a result of a 2010 incident – one that Bailey describes as a complete accident.
When CTV News Toronto reached out to CBSA for further clarification on Bailey’s case, the agency said they couldn’t comment on individual cases under Canada’s Privacy Act.
In a statement, CBSA spokesperson Maria Ladouceur said all of the agency’s officers are “trained in interview, examination and investigative techniques.”
“They use proven indicators, advanced information, intelligence, innovative technology and information-sharing to carry out their mandate,” Ladoucer said.
The admissibility of travellers is decided on a case-by-case basis based on the information presented to the officers, who then must assess the security risk and admissibility of each individual, she said.
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Original story published by CTV News on April 7, 2023.