Crossing the U.S.-Canada border? Here’s what you need to know
The moral of the story is when you go our for a run, walk or hike, know where you are — exactly where you are.
Cedella Roman, a 19-year-old French citizen who was visiting her mother in North Delta, B.C., went out for a jog in White Rock, B.C., on a cool spring evening May 21, according to a cbc.ca story. She decided to head south along the coast, and as the tide came in, she turned onto a dirt path before she stopped to take a photo and enjoy the Pacific Northwest scenery.
That's where Roman's run took a very different turn — one that ended up costing her two weeks in a Tacoma detention center, according to the CBC story.
As Roman turned to head for home, she was apprehended by two U.S. Customs Border Protection officers.
"An officer stopped me and started telling me I had crossed the border illegally," Roman told CBC. "I told him I had not done it on purpose, and that I didn't understand what was happening."
Roman said she didn't see any signs warning her that she was about to cross the U.S.-Canadian border, according to the story, but the officers said security cameras had caught her crossing the border and entering Blaine illegally. And, like most joggers, she didn't have an government-issued ID or travel permits on her.
"I said to myself, well I may have crossed the border, but they'll probably only give me a fine or they'll tell me to go back to Canada or they'll give me a warning," she told CBC.
Sorry, not in this day and age.
Instead, she was transferred to Homeland Security's Tacoma Northwest Detention Center where she stayed until June 6.
"They put me in the caged vehicles and brought me into their facility," Roman told CBC. "They asked me to remove all my personal belongings with my jewelry, they searched me everywhere. Then I understood it was getting very serious, and I started to cry a bit."
Roman told CBC she was able to contact her mother, who rushed to the detention center with Roman's documents and passport, but she was held in custody for two weeks while U.S. and Canadian officials confirmed her paperwork, discharged her from the detention center and allowed her back into British Columbia.
Roman is certainly not the first outdoors enthusiast to have made the mistake along the U.S.-Canadian border, which measures 5,525 miles — the longest in the world — but isn't marked in the traditional way with a definitive boundary, such as the wall and the Rio Grande River along the U.S.-Mexican border.
According to a story published Friday by The Province, a six-meter divide through the trees called the "no touch zone" separates U.S. and Canada, though there are a few exceptions.
A video by insh.world and posted to YouTube explores the interesting border along the 49th parallel and the exceptions to the "no touch zone," which includes Whatcom County's own Point Roberts.
Another exception is in Derby Line, Vermont, which is actually a city that sits right on the border with Stanstead, Quebec. The two towns are essential one, separated in one area by a line of flower pots. They even share a library that straddles the border with separate entrances from the U.S. and Canada.
Another exception is the town of Hyder, Alaska, which can only be reached through Canada.