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Even in the old days though, you needed papers to legally work in the other country. I once got hired into a position vacated by a fellow who was deported to Canada. Only capital is allowed to flow freely back and forth, not mere people.
Its the US government that has changed the rules, not the Canadian government. Americans sometimes mistakenly blame the changes on the Canadian government, that is not the case.
I live near the border and cross frequently. I am what they call a "trusted traveller" and have what is called a Nexus card. To get it I have to give the US government my fingerprints, my photo, an iris scan, criminal background check with the FBI and RCMP, my credit card numbers, place of employment, my car registration info, an interview with the Department of Homeland Security. But it was all worth it because I basically drive across the border and barely slow down and just wave my little card with a chip embedded inside it at this machine, and away I go. We even have a secret bridge that nobody else can use. This Nexus card has saved me at least a dozen hours of waiting time, it rules!
Gone are the days when you can cross the border with a library card.
I have to give the US government my fingerprints, my photo, an iris scan, criminal background check with the FBI and RCMP, my credit card numbers, place of employment, my car registration info, an interview with the Department of Homeland Security
Believe me, when you cross the border as often as I do, its worth it.
I live closer to the airport in Buffalo than I do Toronto, there is nothing worse than sitting in a massive traffic jam at the border watching the clock tick knowing that you might miss a flight if the US Customs dude decides to pull you over for a secondary inspection. Like I said, it has easily saved me a dozen hours over the last 3 months.
[edited by: Rugles at 3:23 pm (utc) on Dec. 10, 2008]
I've never even half-way thought of Canada as being a "foreign country" in any way. I feel like they're "part of us" and that we're "part of them" - all one, like all of our states are one, here in the U.S.
...I basically drive across the border and barely slow down and just wave my little card with a chip embedded inside it at this machine, and away I go. We even have a secret bridge that nobody else can use.
Secret bridge? I'm intrigued by the notion that in this day and age there is something in the public realm as big as a bridge that can be described as 'secret'!
It sounds more akin to the days of yore with smugglers having secluded coves into which they could clandestinely bring ashore their swag, or dark trails that go deep into the foreboding woods. How ironic that the situation has reversed and it's the law abiding element that has such secrets!
One other thing - where is it?
It used to be open to the public but has been permanently closed to the public since 9-11. I think that it was a security issue because its very short and has very little room to put a lot of barriers, or radiological detection devices and the other stuff that appeared on the bridges right after 9-11.
Now to use the bridge you need to be a "trusted traveller" like myself. You can't even get on the bridge without the card because you need to wave your card in front of this device and the barrier suddenly opens to let you on the bridge. There is never any other cars on the bridge when I use it and ironicaly just miles away is the second busiest border crossing in North America with massive traffic jams.
But don't tell anybody ... its a secret ;-) .
the day when I have to give up my fingerprints or iris scan for something as simple as getting to PubCon ;-) That'll be the day I stop traveling to the US.
As a European, I stopped travelling when I had to give fingerprints and iris scan to the US government.
US citizens do not need them to get into the UK, and until they do, or the US stop asking for mine, I am happy to avoid travelling to or via the USA.
However, the US inspectors at Calgary airport had a scanner where I had to scan my thumbs and then the remaining four fingers of each hand. Either this scan is peculiar to the Canadian border or about to be rolled out to all airports.
There were notices to the effect that Americans and Canadians will need a passport as of 1 June 2009.