Trump travel order prompts federal scramble over report of revoked Nexus cards

Trump order prompts Nexus card scramble

OTTAWA — The Liberal government is trying to ensure Canadian dual-nationals can still use their Nexus trusted-traveller cards at the border following word that cards have been revoked, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says.

The government will urge American officials to apply the rules fairly in the wake of a Trump administration executive order banning travel to the U.S. by people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Goodale told the House of Commons on Friday. The status of the executive order was left unclear Friday after a judge in Seattle temporarily blocked the ban, though the White House indicated it would challenge the order.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel said during question period that doesn’t provide much clarity to Canadians wondering if their Nexus card — which allows speedy passage through airports and border crossings — is still usable.

“Has the minister asked for, and received, written assurance that any and all Nexus cards will remain valid in light of the executive order?” she asked.

Goodale told the House of Commons that those who hold a Canadian passport — whatever other national connections they might have — continue to enjoy the same access to the United States they always did.

The Nexus card, on the other hand, is a special provision “over and above the passport,” he said. 

“We want to make sure that Canadians entitled to a Nexus card, which is discretionary on both sides of the border, are in fact treated properly and fairly.”

As of December, there were almost 1.5 million members in the Nexus program — about 80 per cent of them Canadians.

In a statement, the Canada Border Services Agency said it is aware of “some members having their Nexus cards removed and/or denied. There are a number of reasons a membership may be revoked and a membership may be declined.”

However, a border agency spokesman could not immediately say whether the White House travel order would be sufficient grounds for revoking a Nexus card.

“CBSA continues to work closely with our U.S. counterparts with all cross-border matters to ensure that safety and security of our respective borders are maintained while facilitating legitimate travel and trade to ensure economic prosperity,” the agency’s statement said. 

Some 400,000 people and over $2 billion in goods and services cross the Canada-U.S. border every day.

The NDP pressed Goodale on Friday about another provision of the White House’s executive order on immigration that could eventually see all visitors entering and leaving the United States be subjected to biometric screening, such as fingerprint or iris scans.

“How will these screenings impact our industries that depend on speedy border crossings?” asked New Democrat MP Murray Rankin.

Goodale said he “specifically raised the issue” of the biometric screening provision during a discussion this week with new U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and requested clarification from the United States.

“We want to be completely informed about what it has in mind,” Goodale said.

Global Affairs Canada says Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland stressed the importance of efficient border measures during a phone call Thursday with her U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

A summary of the call says the two highlighted the progress of recent pre-clearance measures, as well as the need for a safe and secure border that does not hamper the flow of goods and people.

— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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