Canadian Jem And The Holograms Artist Gisele Lagace Denied Entry To The US On Her Way To C2E2

While New Brunswick-based artist Gisele Lagace has worked on comics for Dynamite, IDW, Archie and Marvel, she's also a freelance illustrator. Like many freelancers, she saw Chicago's C2E2 as an opportunity to do some important self-promotion and potentially sign on to do some commission work.

IDW

After two days of driving from her home in order to get to the US/Canadian border, though, Lagace was stopped by border patrol, questioned about what business she had in the States, and ultimately denied entry into the country.

In a lengthy Facebook post, Lagace described her experience with border agents who searched through her car and her drawings, body searched her, and took her fingerprints after determining that she didn't have a legitimate reason to be travelling into the US. The issue the agents took, Lagace explained, was the fact that she'd already begun some of her commission work in Canada with the intention of finishing it in the States, which would qualify as her working here.

"They kept pressing about the comics I had and the sketches, and well, I had to be honest and said that I did get paid for commissions but beforehand, but since they weren't complete, it was considered work in the [US]," Lagace wrote. "Comics-wise, I had maybe $700 [$AU930] in value if I had sold everything. Honestly, it's not a lot."

According to Lagace, the border agents also seemed sceptical of the idea that she would be travelling into the US just to promote her art, something that literally entire sections of cons are dedicated to.

It's unclear specifically why the border agents refused Lagace entry into the country, but Lagace's story does bear some resemblance to a number of similar instances of foreigners being turned away from the US in the wake of President Trump's (failed) Muslim ban.

Lagace was able to simply turn around and head home after the ordeal, but she now says that she doesn't plan on trying to come back to the US any time soon.

"Now that I've been refused entry in the US for this, it's on file," she said. "Don't expect to see me at a US con until I can figure out a way to get in and being absolutely certain this won't happen."


Comments

    Yup.... Americas current "Border" protection is so insane that I've absolutely no interest in going there anymore. Screw'em

    It's unclear specifically why the border agents refused Lagace entry into the country...

    Point of order - isn't it fairly clear why she was turned away? I can't imagine a country in the world that would let travellers in to work without the right visa. US Border Patrol did the right thing in following the law - Lagace was the one silly enough to say that she'd be earning commission while in-country.

      Logic has no place within these walls.

      Grrrrr Trump rah rah rah laws don't apply to me

      Wasn't it all paid for in advance? If she isn't receiving income whilst there, just drawing, what is the problem?

        The article also says "Comics-wise, I had maybe $700 [$AU930] in value if I had sold everything. Honestly, it's not a lot". -- presumably this merchandise is in addition to the half finished commission art work. On balance, it does sound like what she planned to do in the US counted as "work", for which she didn't have a visa.

        It's at the low end where a different border agent might have turned a blind eye, but you can't really fault the agents in this case.

          I think you'd have to know what the regulations are before you can say that "on balance" it sounds reasonable. If the story's correct it's clear she'd have been let in if all her commission work was finished before she crossed the border, and it'd already been paid for etc. so it's a pretty narrow interpretation. I'd be willing to bet that if she had resources to challenge it she'd win.

          I used to work from home in the USA, I was paid from Australia by an Australian company and at the time immigration there saw it as supportive of my right to be there because I wasn't going to be sponging off any system there, and any money I earned was being spent in their country. I came and went with this explaination 4-5 times over 3 years.
          Whether she or I were in the right is one thing, but if it's interpreted differently by different agents, that's a problem

      Agreed. The problem here is that border guards, as quasi-military types, don't actually have that much discretion and intention is everything.

      I had a similar experience in the US even before 9/11. I was originally going to the US to study, however the study fell through after I had arranged my tickets so I thought I'd go as a tourist and not waste the plane tickets. Although I did have an existing (valid) tourist visa, as my original intention had been to study (and some of my documentation still made that clear) I ended up being detained in immigration for 12 hours and missing my connecting flight. (My airline also recived a fine of something like $5000 for letting me on board.)

      Every customs officer I dealt with was very apologetic, and in the end I did end up being let into the US with an $80 fine for entering on the wrong visa class. Post 9/11, however, I suspect that the border guards have no doubt lost even that amount of discretion and I would have been put straight on a plane back to Oz.

      Last edited 22/04/17 10:37 am

      I'm not sure what vague point the article is trying to make, but there is a big problem when this sort of thing is enforced on such a trivial level. You can't forge and maintain healthy relationships with other countries while having such tight borders, especially with neighbouring countries like Canada. The absurdly small amount of tax she's skipping isn't worth it. It's just petty.

        I think they're confused because it happened to a person from Canada, whereas this type of thing is meant to happen to the "brown people" from down south.

          Pretty sure working visa are things that affect all people, pretty sure they (and you) are just looking to make it seem worse than it is. Our country has a working Visa system, even if it just got nerfed into the ground.

    It's unclear specifically why the border agents refused Lagace entry into the country, but Lagace's story does bear some resemblance to a number of similar instances of foreigners being turned away from the US in the wake of President Trump's (failed) Muslim ban.

    Or, you know, instead of making this about politics, you could look at the actual reason that Legace herself gave. "I did get paid for commissions but beforehand, but since they weren't complete, it was considered work in the [US]".

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