One Canadian man and his family have learned the precise extent of America's commitment to the spirit of NAFTA and the depth of their gratitude for Canada's support of George W. Bush's risible "War on Terror".
Kevin Gibbons was recruited by a Utah company more than a decade ago and has done much valuable work in the state's communications industry. Gibbons says, "I have probably done more than most of the American citizens have to build their infrastructure". His entry to the States was granted through a TN Visa, a special work visa issued to non-immigrant NAFTA professionals.
After visiting family in Canada last year, Gibbons and his wife were denied re-entry to the United States. The problem? Gibbons' thirty-year-old conviction for marijuana possession. He turned his car around.
Later, upon attempting re-entry, he was again refused, this time because he was "unqualified" for the job at which he had performed superlatively for over a decade--this despite the best efforts of his American employer, who made it clear to border authorities that Gibbons was an absolute necessity to them.
Gibbons was given a short time to liquidate his assets in the United States (he claims to have lost about $100 000) and was then effectively deported. After having given the U.S. his technical expertise in a very specialised field of communications and after having raised a family in the States, he now appears permanently barred from entry into the country.
We might be tempted to ascribe this disgraceful infliction of arbitrary cruelty on America's post-9/11 need to purge itself of everything that might threaten their Väterland. We get a very different rationale, though, from Jan Pete, spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. She claims that "there is an increased demand on border guards to be very thorough with NAFTA applicants" because "we do have a commitment at the border to protect the American job market".
That's right: protecting the American job market has become part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's job description.
Kevin Gibbons: a name to remember the next time Americans bark more of their swaggering cant about their commitment to "liberalised trade" and a sobering reminder of how easily, in the land that allegedly prizes the "individual", a man and his family can be chewed up and spit out by a callous, impersonal, xenophobic state apparatus.