The United States barred two hosts of a Canadian neo-Nazi podcast from crossing the border earlier this month, according to a recent episode of their show.
Bernardo Garcia and Tyler Hall-Kuch, who are based in the Toronto area, say they were turned away after being asked about their weekly podcast, which shares alt-right and hateful commentary on the news of the day.
“Would you believe it if I told you we’ve had some trouble at the borders?” yells Hall-Kuch on the show. “For reals this time.”
Garcia and Hall-Kuch’s podcast, now on its 34th episode, is the direct successor of This Hour Has 88 Minutes, a neo-Nazi podcast shut down by a joint VICE Canada and Canadian Anti-Hate Network investigation that exposed its hosts. Garcia and Hall-Kuch were both listeners of and guests on the earlier podcast, and their current show shares the same producer, a man who goes by the alias “Jonathan Boone.” Their intention for the new podcast is to be more genteel and family-friendly, and thereby more effective at radicalizing new listeners.
The podcast is full of both overt and coded sexism, racism, anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry, and anti-Semitism, and often targets journalists.
Late last year the Canadian Anti-Hate Network and a team of journalists uncovered the identities of Garcia and Hall-Kuch, who were operating under pseudonyms.
Garcia and Hall-Kuch declined to comment for this story.
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Hate across borders
Garcia and Hall-Kuch ran into trouble at the U.S. border while on their way to ExoFest, a weekend retreat of alt-right neo-Nazi podcasters and personalities held at a secret location in the southeastern United States.
The event is hosted by the American neo-Nazi podcast Exodus/Americanus, whose hosts describe it as “The Alt-Right's number 1 meta-political talk show.”
At the last ExoFest, the live recording of Exodus/Americanus kicked off with a call to “smoke a bowl, drink a beer, it’s time to gas the Jews and queers!”
Garcia, who says he attended the event last year, claims he and Hall-Kuch were invited.
It’s not unusual for alt-right figures to hop between countries. Canadian neo-Nazi propagandist Gabriel Sohier Chaput, aka “Zeiger,” who is currently wanted by police on a charge of wilful promotion of hatred, attended the 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, with a group of other Canadian extremists. Infamous Canadian neo-Nazi Paul Fromm is now required to request a visa before entering the United States.
Henry Chang, a partner at Dentons law firm who specializes in immigration law across the U.S. border, says that “as a general rule, being associated with a white supremacist group (or any other extremist group) is not automatically a bar to entering the United States.”
A restriction would normally apply only to applicants planning to “engage in unlawful activity and those who are associated with designated criminal organizations” says Chang, adding that U.S. border agents “have a lot of discretion” to deny entry to travellers.
Garcia and Hall-Kuch said they told U.S. border officials they were “going drinking with friends” during questioning and did not reveal the real nature of the event they were planning to attend.
Lying or giving an incomplete answer to an official could be a “a permanent ground of inadmissibility,” says Chang.
‘All three hosts of this show have been effectively banned’
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said they were not able to comment on private travel plans, but wrote in an email that they turn away visitors for a range of reasons including security concerns.
But Garcia and Hall-Kuch’s rejection and the line of questioning they faced at the border suggests U.S. border security is looking more seriously at white nationalists travelling between the United States and Canada.
“Our dual mission is to facilitate travel in the United States while we secure our borders, our people and our visitors from those that would do us harm like terrorists and terrorist weapons, criminals, and contraband,” wrote a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson.
A third host of Garcia and Hall-Kuch’s podcast, Vincent Bélanger Mercure of Montreal, said on the show he too was recently rejected at the border after being questioned about his presence at Charlottesville.
“We’re at a point where all three hosts of this show have been effectively banned from the United States,” lamented Garcia on the podcast.
This article is co-published with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. With files from journalist Zachary Kamel.
Garcia’s usernames include SonOfDix, Thiccson, Dixon, and Amigoy. Hall-Kuch’s include Cracker Jack and Jack Tyler. Mercure also goes by Bébécoco. We have made the editorial decision not to link to their accounts or name their podcast. Anti-hate practitioners and researchers may contact the Canadian Anti-Hate Network for additional information.