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HomeCanadaFather of Ontario family banned indefinitely from Canada on decade-old charges

Father of Ontario family banned indefinitely from Canada on decade-old charges


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.

‘BIGGEST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE’

The summer Bailey turned 30, his grandfather gave him a clay pigeon launcher, he recalled during the interview.

“I’ve been shooting guns my whole life,” he said. “In rural Ohio, it’s not like in Canada – you hear gunfire on any given summer day. People shoot their guns.”

On a June day in 2010, Bailey said he decided to take advantage of the gift and set up himself up for a session of target practice in the backyard of his then-girlfriend.

The property Bailey was shooting on backed up against a tree line, he said. Behind that, a field, another treeline, and a small lake separated his property with another resident’s – about a mile away, according to Bailey.

Bailey shot clay pigeons for a while, before deciding to switch to his then-girlfriend’s handgun, aiming at what he thought was a “safe backstop,” he explained.

After “about an hour of shooting the handgun,” Bailey said he packed it up, went back inside, and went to bed.

The next day, the sheriff’s department knocked on his door, Bailey recalled – the officers were investigating after a nearby resident had been shot, he said. The man had been struck by a bullet fragment in the groin, the officers informed Bailey.

At first, Bailey said his girlfriend only admitted to shooting at the clay pigeons when questioned by the police, failing to reveal that a handgun had been fired, he said. Bailey said he initially went along with the lie, a move that would turn out to be “the biggest mistake of my life,” he said.

“A few days later, they came back with a warrant.”

Ultimately, Bailey would end up charged by the state of Ohio with one count of negligent assault and one count of obstruction.

“I plead no contest, took the required gun safety course right away, paid my fine, and completed my probation,” he said.

‘NO QUICK FIXES’

According to Andres Pelenur, immigration lawyer with Borders Law Firm in Toronto, Bailey will likely be able to gain access to Canada again, but the journey to a barrier-free entry process could be an arduous one.

“There are no quick fixes,” Pelenur told CTV News Toronto in an interview Thursday.

Anyone arrested or convicted of a crime may be barred from entering Canada and categorized as ‘inadmissible,’ Pelenur said. Those with criminal records crossing the border are evaluated on a case-by-base basis, with the main factor under consideration being the individual’s risk of reoffending.

Because of the case-by-case evaluation, sometimes individuals who are at risk of being deemed inadmissible due to past crimes are allowed in without issue, the lawyer explained. Often, those crossing the border won’t be outright asked if they have a criminal history, Pelenur said — it depends on the agent.

“A lot of people don’t even know that they’re inadmissible,” Pelenur said. “You can be waved through incorrectly from a strict legal perspective, and this happens quite commonly, so they’ll have no clue.”

Bailey said he’s had a border agent flag his criminal history once before, during the pandemic. However, that particular agent, Bailey recalled, deemed his entry to be low-risk and waved him through.

Once someone with a criminal record has been found to be inadmissible, the process to re-entry can be difficult, Pelenur said – for a clean slate, individuals must go through the criminal rehabilitation program, a lengthy process that can’t be initiated until five years after an individual has completed their sentence.

“[Once submitted], it can literally take years to process,” he said. “It can be a real problem for people.”

Another option, which Pelenur called a kind of “stop gap,” is a ‘Temporary Resident Permit.

“It’s a [permit] that allows people to enter Canada when they have a criminal inadmissibility, and they’re not yet allowed to apply or obtain the criminal rehabilitation,” he explained.

A temporary resident permit is only good for one entry and expires after a predetermined amount of time. These permits are granted to individuals whose need to enter or stay in Canada outweighs any possible health or safety risks to Canadian society, as determined by an immigration or a border agent.

At the time of publication, Bailey said he was in the process of applying for a temporary resident permit so that he can see his family as soon as possible and is also seeking to start the criminal rehabiliation process with his lawyer, he said. 

LOOKING AHEAD

Canada’s inadmissibility rules can be “harsh,” Pelenur said, and the system, at the end of the day, is not a very permissive one, he added. “But I do think it’s fair,” the lawyer stated.

For Bailey, the matter transcends immigration policy into the personal – he says the bottom line, for him, remains his family. His fiancee has been caring for five children alone for two weeks now, he says, while bringing in their primary income.

“It’s been a complete role reversal,” Bailey said. “I used to stay at home and pretty much run the household – with [five] kids it’s its own full-time job.”

In the meantime, he said he’s focusing on getting his temporary permit and consoling his family, including Lachlan, who still doesn’t quite understand the situation.

“He’s starting to freak out when people in his life leave – like when his mom goes to the store,” Bailey said. “He thinks that people aren’t coming back.”

“I just tell him I love him and that I’ll be there as soon as I can.” 

Source: ctvnews

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