Fifteen hundred dollars and two hundred and fifty pages of documentation. That is what it took for Canadian Stephen Barkey and American Cathy Kolsch to reunite in Canada.
I had posted their story here. Border officials forced them to separate at the Canada-U.S. border because, in life right now, the only important objective is to fight COVID-19.
Even when it makes no apparent sense.
Canada wants to stop the spread of COVID-19 and it restricts some foreigners from entering the country. Not all mind you. There are all sorts of travellers entering the country. How you get into Canada depends on the mode of transportation, the border you cross and the border official you encounter.
Stephen and Cathy are retired. Like us, they currently travel full-time in their RV. Unlike us, they live common law.
To enter Canada, this couple had to prove that they had lived together for at least a year with appropriate documentation.
Unable to satisfy their common law status with the Canadian border official, Cathy was denied entry into Canada. Stephen was not allowed to return with her. He had to remain in Canada with their home on wheels as the U.S. land border is closed to non-essential travel. She was made homeless at the border and had to return to California to stay with friends.
They consulted a Canadian immigration lawyer. He prepared an extensive set of documents to prove their common law relationship. Cathy took the two hundred and fifty pages of material with her to the border.
And this time?
The border official allowed her into the country.
She is now in quarantine in Canada for 14-days.
Is Canada a safer country for keeping cross-border couples separated?
In this CBC update on the story, another couple attempted to reunite. They were also told that they did not have the appropriate documentation and the American was denied entry. The American found a common law union document on the Canadian government’s website and downloaded a copy. He tried to cross the border a second time so that he and his partner could sign the document and get it verified.
The customs officer determined that his second attempt to cross Canada to verify his common law union was non-essential. And, not only was he denied entry a second time, he was barred from entering Canada for one year.
Meanwhile, sixty thousand people have entered Canada through Roxham Road, and, during the pandemic, when the land border is closed to couples attempting to reunite, asylum seekers continue to cross into the country through Roxham Road.
Such bizarre inconsistencies at the border. For example, Canadians can still cross the border to the U.S. but only if they fly.
Canadians want the border to the U.S. closed regardless of impact to family members and loved ones. COVID-19 is the ultimate death scare and most Canadians believe that we have to do all that we can to contain the virus until a vaccine arrives.
I don’t see the Canadian government reopening the border to the U.S. this year. Not with this level of public opinion.