It’s a sad state of affairs. But necessary.
Our school district has joined several others, along with a number of service and community groups, like the Girl Guides of Canada, in instituting a moratorium on travel to the United States.
Travel between our two countries truly changed, forever it seems, after the 2001 terror attacks. Now we are required to take off our shoes and show our electronic devices along with the passports we didn’t even need before a few years ago.
Full body scanners await us if we’re among the chosen.
But until last year you could still pretty much count on getting through customs mostly unmolested, and certainly without being detained by authorities.
Not so now.
The news has been rife with accounts of law-abiding, and often frequent-border-hopping Canadians being held for hours at our southern border, or even turned away entirely.
And while you still may be comfortable taking that chance as an individual, or even a family going on a trip, our schools and other groups that are dealing with squads of children can’t.
It would be a nightmare if a child (let’s face it, of colour) is stopped at the border and detained, or prevented from moving on with the rest of their class.
Not only would it be nerve-wracking and perhaps even emotionally scarring for the child involved, it would cause an untenable situation for the entire group.
Class trips only go with so many chaperons, and should a child be stopped, obviously an adult would have to remain with them to try to untangle the mess.
Thus the group would likely be left without an adequate number of supervisors. Then of course there are the questions: do they continue on, or turn back?
There’s also the cost. We’ve all heard the horror stories from bumped airplane passengers who have subsequently missed their cruises or other holiday bookings. This would likely be no different. And may even be non-refundable. And would a school or group be legally liable in some way, if a parent proved litigious?
No, there is just too much uncertainty at the United States border right now to take the chance. Indeed a sad state of affairs with our closest neighbour.