A Canadian man who was denied entry to the U.S. says he felt like he was unfairly profiled because he is gay and married.
Michael Potter, 46, was reportedly detained by U.S. Customs officers in Detroit after he told an officer around 11:30 a.m. that he had purchased a bottle of vodka and a box of cigars at the duty-free shop in Windsor, Ontario, before attempting to enter the U.S. via the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, National Post reports.
Potter said he was planning to stay overnight in a Detroit hotel to do shopping and go out with friends, and said he crosses the border once or twice a month.
Potter was allegedly held for three hours, body searched and placed in a cell before being denied entry to the country, according to the Windsor Star.
Agents reportedly asked him why his husband was not traveling with him, to which Potter answered that his partner, Matthew Allsopp, was at home taking care of the couple's pets. Officers checked his phone and wallet, and asked Potter about why he had moved to Windsor from his hometown in Alberta.
Potter said he was then taken into a small cell before being asked to remove his jacket, shoes and belt, and being frisked "on every part of his body."
"I was given no reason at all. I asked and they would not answer," said Potter.
He said he was then taken to a waiting area until around 2 p.m., when he was told he would not be admitted into the U.S., and was escorted back to his car. When he got back to the vehicle, he said that that his small suitcase and other belongings had been opened and thrown around the car.
"I felt like I was profiled and didn't get in because I was gay," said Potter. He said he had made purchases and declared them on the way into the country before without incident, but hadn't previously told customs officers that he was married.
A Detroit Customs and Border Protection spokesman said the agency could not comment on Potter's account.
"Due to privacy rules we can not make comments about any individual," Chief Ken Hammond said. "It's unfortunate he feels that way. There can be issues with each individual situation. He was well within his rights at any time to speak with a supervisor."
Canadian politician Brian Masse said he had heard similar stories about Canadians saying they were denied entry at the U.S. border because of sexual orientation.
"We have heard similar things before where there have been feelings a denial in crossing the border was based on sexual orientation," Masse said, adding that there is "little we can do" since U.S. Customs is on American soil.
"I am very upset," Potter said of the incident. "I feel worse than being bullied or beaten up because you have no rights and couldn't fight back."
"It didn't matter how polite I was, nothing was good enough," he added. "I will never cross into the U.S. again. I have family and friends there, but they will have to come here."