|Wiki Commons Photo|
If you are a Canadian citizen trying to visit the US, but have a history of mental illness — even just a minor, non-violent incident that was recorded in official records — you could be denied entry by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), according to a recent report by CBCNews in Canada.
Sixty-five year old Lois Kamenitz from Toronto found this out the hard way recently when US customs officials at Pearson International Airport (PIA) refused to allow her to board a flight she booked to Los Angeles, Cal. Because Kamenitz had tried to take her life back in 2006, which was recorded by police who were present after the woman’s partner called them to the scene, DHS ultimately refused her entry.
When questioned about the incident, DHS officials claimed they did not actually access Kamenitz’ medical records, but instead obtained information via a “contact note from the police” that had visited her home. According to a Wikileak report released earlier this year, all information that is entered into the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database, including Kamenitz’ suicide incident, is fully accessible to US authorities.
In Kamenitz’ case, her suicide attempt was not a crime, it did not involve violence, and she has not had any further incidents since that date. But because DHS was able to access her private information without so much as a cursory review of the circumstances, they ultimately prevented her from traveling on the basis that she might be a threat to herself or others.
But the real question is this. Why do US authorities have access to private information about Canadians in the first place? CBCNews explains that both the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and DHS have “reciprocal direct access” to criminal databases, but it also appears that they might have reciprocal access to details, which they then use to gain further access to private medical records.
“These are private and personal medical records that I’m now handing over to a foreign government,” said Kamenitz to CBCNews, following her eventual admittance into the US. DHS ultimately forced her to surrender a copy of her medical records, and pay a DHS-approved doctor $250 to gain official clearance into the US.
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