As hundreds of thousands of Canadians wait to have their Nexus applications processed, a squabble is taking place over a U.S. agents' authority to carry guns in Canada, according to a report.
During the pandemic, Canada's backlog of Nexus applications ballooned into the hundreds of thousands, with reports estimating nearly 350,000 pending applications after Canadian enrolment centres shuttered in March 2020.
The American agency reopened its Nexus centres for applicant interviews on April 19, while Canada’s remained closed – and the reason for this hasn’t been entirely clear until now.
As the Canadian Press reported on Friday (July 22), a dispute over legal protections for American customs – involving the right to carry a firearm – is what’s kept Nexus offices shut down in Canada, more than three months after the U.S. reopened theirs.
The situation has led to a backlog in applications for the popular program, which allows pre-approved travellers to cross the Canada-U.S. border more quickly.
According to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the number of Nexus applications has swelled from 270,000 in April to more than 341,000.
CP reports that U.S. remains “in discussions'' about exactly when the 13 enrolment centres will reopen for applicant interviews, as the two sides try to clarify “legal protections'' for American customs officers when stationed at jointly-staffed centres.
The authority to carry or have access to a firearm “while on duty” was cited as one reason for the holdup.
Two senior Canadian government sources told The Canadian Press the U.S. wants its officers at Nexus centres to have the same protections guaranteed to its other preclearance officers on Canadian soil, with guns as a “major sticking point in the talks.”