We all know that if you are caught crossing an international border in an illegal manner, you can expect a heapin’ helping of trouble, be it fines and/or imprisonment.
(That is, unless you happen to be an illegal alien sneaking across an “irregular border crossing,” such as the infamous Roxham Road that straddles the province of Quebec and New York State — in that case, the RCMP officers will reimagine themselves as bellhops and dutifully carry your bags. But we digress…)
So, it is very difficult to make sense of a recent and perfectly legal border crossing from New York into Ontario that resulted in four individuals receiving fines of $3,775 per person!
Brothers Menachem Scillag and Yakov Scillag crossed over from the U.S. to Canada with their family friends, Matis Stebben and Matis’s son, Joseph.
Joseph was coming back to Toronto in order to celebrate the Passover holiday. And that’s when they underwent a four-hour ordeal with border agents, with the gist of the conversation suggesting that Matis and company were interpreting the rules wrongly.
Except for one hitch: Matis, who had consulted with a lawyer before making the trip, was in the right. Indeed, the law states that if a foreign student (Joseph) is being educated and residing in the United States, he is allowed to cross back into the country of his habitual residence without penalty.
But the border guards and their supervisors had a different interpretation of the rules. They said that in order to qualify for a hassle-free crossing (i.e., not quarantining), Joseph would have to be making regular border crossings (i.e., crossing the border every day, presumably).
Not only is this an incorrect interpretation of the rules, how does such a mandate even make a modicum of sense?
So it is that the Stebbens and the Scillags are our most recent Fight The Fines candidates. We’re not going to allow this miscarriage of justice to go unchallenged. And if you would like to help crowdfund their legal fees, please visit www.FightTheFines.com. Our thanks in advance.