Expensive mistake at border
Acouple in their fifties from Ascot Corner will think twice before returning to Stanstead to go to a concert. Kim Passey and her husband, Arnold Winget, instead of attending the Dave Gordon concert at the Haskell Opera House on September 7th as they had planned, came home with a $5000 fine from the United States Customs and Border Protection.
“We had never been to the Haskell Opera House before and didn’t know where it was,” said Kim Passey, who was driving the vehicle. The couple drove down Dufferin, continued past the Canadian border post when, according to Mrs. Passey, she remembered that the Haskell also had a Canadian address. “I thought that if we hadn’t passed through the American Customs then we were still in Canada, so we turned left onto the street there and went straight to the Haskell.” Once they arrived at the Haskell a parking attendant ushered them into the parking lot. That’s when an American Customs and Border Patrol officer confronted the couple. “I said I was sorry and that it was an innocent mistake, that we were just going to the show. We weren’t trying to smuggle anything and had no alcohol or anything with us. The officer told us to follow him to the big
border and that it was serious,” she added.
Once at the American border post at the end of autoroute 55, the ordeal for the couple continued. “I was visibly upset but I didn’t say anything and just did what I was told. I was even escorted to the bathroom. I’m surprised they didn’t cuff me; it was a real nightmare,” continued Ms. Passey. After spending about one and a half hours there, the couple were finally released with a $5000 fine. “We went home because I was too upset to go to the show.”
“What bothers me is that I know other people, I don’t want to mention names, who have done the same thing and only gotten a reprimand. So why did I get a fine? I think it is unjust. I’m raising two kids and $5000 is a lot of money,” she commented.
Ms. Passey is contesting the fine and has already sent a registered letter for an appeal to the proper authorities in the United States. She has also contacted NDP MP Jean Rousseau, Stanstead mayor Philippe Dutil, an Immigration lawyer and several media outlets with her story. “If the same thing has happened to others they should come forward. We need a better system; it’s not fair that some people are fined and not others.” Asked if she will return to Stanstead, Ms. Passey said: “I don’t want to go near that place!”
Ms. Passey has thirty days, from the time of the event, to pay the $5000. When the paper went to press, we were still waiting for a return call from a spokesperson with the United States Customs and Border Protection Services.