CTA helps ease border requirement for truckers with criminal past

OTTAWA — Responding to several calls from truckers with criminal records forced to secondary inspection every time they cross the border, the Canadian Trucking Alliance has intervened and got the requirement relaxed.

CTA reports that drivers holding criminal waivers and crossing into the U.S. from Ontario complained that they were being regularly referred to U.S. immigration by Customs officers, to be processed for an I-94 card, which records entry and exit to and from US, at a cost of 6 bucks US.

According too the CTA, the drivers were told that they would henceforth be required to do so each time they crossed the border. Previously, drivers holding a valid waiver were not required to report to secondary at any time as a result of their status.

Cross-border work isn’t easy for truckers
with skeletons in their closet

However, after discussions with U.S. authorities, CTA says all ports across the Canada-US border will now require commercial drivers with criminal waivers to obtain an I-94 card only once every six months.

“Requiring drivers with criminal waivers to report to secondary every time they crossed into the U.S. would have been very disruptive to cross-border trade and the operations of land ports,” said CTA CEO David Bradley in a press release. “Secondary parking could have become problematic, causing delays for other vehicles crossing from Canada into the US.”

Based on a survey of CTA membership, it was discovered that approximately three percent of truck drivers engaging in cross-border trade present criminal waivers to CBP inspectors.

For many years, reports CTA, U.S. Immigration law has provided a waiver if the applicant committed a juvenile offense; the applicant committed a single crime involving moral turpitude under the age of 18 and five years have passed since the offense; or if the applicant committed a petty offense as an adult, was convicted of only one crime with a maximum prison sentence of one year, and was sentenced to six months or less.

“Discretionary” waivers have also been issued to applicants based on a variety of criteria, for example, time elapsed and a clean record since conviction, etc.

“To require drivers who have received waivers to report each time to secondary to apply and pay for an I-94 made no sense,” said Bradley. “Treating them at least the same as those drivers who require entry visas is a far more reasonable policy, although questions of need could also be raised even at this minimal level.”

Ian Levine, program director at Pardons Canada — a federal non-profit organization set up under Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) to help people remove past criminal offences from the public record — rewrites histories for truckers.

Levine says that many people honestly don’t know their name is in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database (which U.S. Homeland Security has direct access to), or they assume that because — ’til now — they’ve managed to get through a primary inspection, all is clear. Carriers should tell drivers that the best thing to do is to get the record erased, regardless of how insignificant they think it is.

“Canadian law provides this mechanism and everyone should take advantage of it. By making the record disappear, a person no longer has to admit to it,” Levine says. “The DHS won’t find it even if they look.”

For more on Pardon Canada read Today’s Trucking’s exclusive story: ‘Skeletons in the Closet: Criminal Records’ below.

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