Just days after a liberal Judge from Washington state, chose to second guess the President of the United States on a matter of security, something he had no Constitutional authority to do, Agents at the Canadian border confronted a man with terrorist ties. This Canadian citizen with with Moroccan roots was refused entry at the border following five hours of questioning and having his phone searched.
Officials say that Yassine Aber, a 19-year-old student at the University of Sherbrooke, was denied entry to the U.S. on Thursday at the Stanstead, Quebec crossing. While Aber was being questioned, a search of Aber’s phone led ICE agents to a Facebook photo. That photo showed Aber with Samir Halilovic. one of three University of Sherbrooke students believed to have left Canada in 2014 to join Islamist fighters in Syria.
Aber told officials he didn’t know Halilovic well, but the two had friends in common and attended the same mosque. He said the group photo was taken at a wedding four years ago. Aber was traveling to the U.S. for a track meet in Boston with the university’s track-and-field team on a valid Canadian passport at the time.
“They made me fill in papers and made me talk about myself, where I’m from, where I was born,” Aber said. He was also asked about his parents and their origins, and what countries he has recently visited. Then he was fingerprinted and told to hand over his phone and its password.
Aber said he underwent another round of questions, about his Muslim faith, the mosque he attended, and people he knew there. “They asked me, ‘Do you go to the mosque?’ I said, ‘Yes, sometimes.’ They said, ‘How often? Which mosque do you go to?’ They asked me about specific people,” he said.
Ultimately, Aber was told he wasn’t allowed to enter the U.S. Julie Lessard, a Montreal lawyer who specializes in immigration law, said Aber’s acquaintance with Halilovic could have been enough for border agents to deny him entry.
“That might be the reason why,” she said. “They will look at all connections and if they have any belief that he could be linked to anything that could be a threat to security, that’s a reason that they can use for denying your entry.” Border agents are not obliged to disclose the reasons for denying entry to a visitor.
Aber said: “I was told it’s a privilege for people from other countries to come to the United States and that privilege can be taken away at any time.” The entry refusals come amid a court battle in the United States over an executive ordered issued by President Donald Trump that would temporarily ban all refugees and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Trump has said the travel ban would be a first step in the introduction of “extreme vetting” for visitors and immigrants from regions of the world his administration considers dangerous.