A Canadian dentist who fought to keep a green card the U.S. issued to him because he is a North American Indian has backed off that effort...

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A Canadian dentist who fought to keep a green card the U.S. issued to him because he is a North American Indian has backed off that effort and will now use a more conventional immigrant card — one that requires him to move from Canada and live in the U.S.

Saying he is 50 percent Campbell River Indian, Peter Roberts, of Tsawwassen, British Columbia, went to court in January seeking to preserve the kind of unlimited access to the U.S. he has enjoyed for years under a treaty-linked green card.

The card was issued to him in 1995 under a little-known clause in U.S. immigration law linked to a treaty the U.S. signed with Canadian Indian bands more than 200 years ago. It entitles those with at least 50 percent native blood access to the U.S. — the right to move freely across land originally theirs and to live and work here if they choose.

Last fall, border officers at Point Roberts, who knew Roberts and his family well, confiscated the card, setting into motion a process that could have had Roberts barred from the U.S.; he was granted the option of making his claim before an immigration judge.

Roberts had said he believed authorities doubted his native ancestry because of his light skin and curly hair.

But officials said he was not entitled to the treaty-linked card because he is at most 25 percent Indian, based on an affidavit signed by his paternal grandmother indicating she was half Irish. That would make Roberts’ father only half Indian. His mother is Ukranian.

And there were other concerns, too.

Roberts’ daughter had been issued a treaty card for which she could not have been eligible, initially raising the suspicion of border officials.

The Campbell River Band had approved so-called “blood quantum” documents showing her father to be 100 percent Indian and thus qualifying her to get the treaty card. Those documents were in conflict with ones the same band issued that show the dentist to be only 50 percent.

Blaine attorney Len Saunders said the band made an error in issuing the documents to his client’s daughter.

The advantage of the treaty card is that, unlike immigrant green cards, it doesn’t require holders to live in the U.S. if they don’t want to. Roberts never has lived here, although he owns property in Point Roberts, a U.S. enclave accessible by land only through Canada.

That will change, under an order signed by Judge Kenneth Josephson and agreed to by Roberts and by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys. The dentist’s treaty card was not returned to him, but Josephson ordered that the government reinstate a different green card, one it first issued to Roberts 42 years ago.

That type of card, which the U.S. has long since discontinued, requires him to live in the U.S.

As far as ICE is concerned, the matter is closed, officials said.

“It has been determined he [Roberts] was otherwise admissible to the United States,” spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said.

Saunders said his client is prepared to move to the U.S. to property he owns in Point Roberts, as immigration laws require.

“My client has extensive ties to the U.S. and has owned property in Point Roberts since the 1970s,” he said. “A lot of people live in Point Roberts and work in Canada. He’d like to retire in the U.S.”

Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or lturnbull@seattletimes.com