Why should you get your pardon or waiver NOW? Because…
Most people don’t understand
Unless and until someone has personally experienced the shame, rejection and ongoing persecution after being convicted of a crime, they won’t realize how wide-ranging and life-altering the consequences are. Ironically, whether they realize it or not, most people know someone who has been convicted of a crime, but unless they are personally affected, most people don’t give a second thought to the thousands of Canadians who are struggling to rebuild their lives against long odds.
At Dominion Pardons & Waivers, we work with people all the time who, despite having served out their sentences, still can’t get a job, travel freely, or even chaperone a field trip at their kids’ school. They are husbands and wives, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. They usually have turned their lives around long ago, yet still can’t move past the shadow of their criminal record. That’s why what we do, matters. More often than not, we can help them get their lives back with a pardon (now known as a record suspension) or a US entry waiver that will allow them to pursue a full range of opportunities for work, travel and life.
The law doesn’t understand
Unfortunately, the Canadian legal system does not seem to be very concerned with the fate of people who have been convicted through the criminal courts. Although a process does exist whereby an individual can apply for a record suspension or a U.S. entry waiver, the truth is that obtaining these can be time-consuming, costly and intimidating. In fact, the recently extended wait times and complex processes can be so discouraging that many ex-offenders don’t even bother to apply. Ever-changing statutes also create confusion as to what the appropriate procedures are, practically guaranteeing that many will be unsuccessful in their attempts to obtain a pardon.
Employers don’t understand
More and more employers in Canada today are seeking criminal background checks from prospective employees. What was once only a concern for certain types of jobs – albeit the ‘best’ jobs, in government, banking, health care, and big business – is now becoming an issue even for applicants to fast food chains, who must submit to invasive criminal background checks and then face added humiliation of being passed up for job after job, promotion after promotion, often without a reason given. Even convictions for minor, summary offenses can come back to haunt an individual, with cryptic legal language causing potential employers to dismiss job applications out of hand or to question the interviewee as to the nature of their crime. These situations are more than embarrassing; they can be financially crippling to people with families to support, who just want to be law abiding and productive citizens again.
Border officials definitely don’t understand
Did you know that border officials with U.S. Immigration (INS) are allowed a tremendous amount of discretion when it comes to allowing people with criminal convictions to cross the border? That means every Customs and Border Protection employee has the authority to decide whether or not you cross into the U.S. – unless you have a U.S. Entry Waiver. Even if you have crossed dozens of times at several different border crossings, even if you have answered their exhaustive questions and submitted to their invasive searches, even if you have been told by a border official that you should be free to cross in future, another agent has the power to deny you. It all depends on their personal judgment – and we all know how personal bias can override fairness and justice.