Last spring I was involved in a somewhat heated debate over the legalities of entering Canada if previously charged with DUI in the states. One of those who didn't seem to believe my posts was NEB Greg. This article was in the Grand Forks Herald today. Maybe the reporter who wrote the article doesn't know what he's talking about either? Note some of these offenses were 20+ years earlier, in direct contradiction to what others posted last spring saying DUI dropped off after a couple years.
BORDER ISSUES: Canadian crime views keep some Americans out
Published Tuesday, January 01, 2008
INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Minn. - Another side effect of the post-9/11 security mindset: Americans who used to enter Canada with a wave and a few friendly questions are finding themselves stopped cold by their youthful indiscretions.
For some time, a drunken driving conviction was enough to deem a foreigner ?inadmissible? because the crime is a felony in Canada. But until recently, experts say border agents were less likely to find out about a foreigner's drunken driving record, either because they didn't ask or because they didn't have extensive criminal history databases to check.
Roseville man's story
It's affected people such as Bob Hohman, a 54-year-old computer network security analyst from Roseville, Minn.
After two drunken driving offenses in the 1970s, Hohman said he quit drinking. He had no qualms about disclosing the convictions in 2004 on a questionnaire at the Canadian border station in Walhalla, N.D., where he and his brother tried to cross on the way to an annual goose hunt.
?When the border agent saw these entries, he informed me that I would not be allowed to enter Canada,? Hohman said. ?I was kind of astonished. I was like, ?C'mon, all of a sudden, I'm not worthy to be in your country?'"
Undeterred, Hohman said he and his brother drove to a different border crossing, didn't mention his record and crossed ?without further incident.?
Others who get tripped don't press ahead.
Some fishing parties who have had a member denied entry into Canada have wound up at the Thunderbird Lodge on the U.S. side of Rainy Lake, said Mary Jane Haanen, co-owner of the lodge.
?You hate to benefit from the misfortune of a business in Canada,? Haanen said. ?But at least we've been able to help them salvage their trip.?
Lucy Perillo is president of Canada Border Crossing Services, a Winnipeg-based company that helps foreigners confront paperwork required to get permission to enter Canada with even a minor criminal record.
?The number being denied (entry) is increasing, and it's directly related to more questions being asked,? Perillo said. ?If you have a DUI or you wrote some bad checks or shoplifted or smoked some pot, you're probably going to need a (special) permit to come into Canada.?
View from Canada
The Canadian government denies claims it is turning away more Americans.
?We haven't seen an increase in individuals found inadmissible,? said Derek Mellon, a spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency, who didn't provide statistics supporting his statement.
?The requirements to enter the country have not changed,? Mellon said. ?We continue to welcome millions of American travelers every year to our country.?
As part of a 2003 agreement known as the Canada-U.S. Smart Border Declaration, Canada and the United States are developing shared databases of criminal history data on each other's citizens, in the name of anti-terrorism.
Canadian immigration officials say would-be visitors with minor records can be provisionally admitted. That's done by paying about $200 in U.S. money for a temporary permit or paying the same amount and following a months-long process to ?rehabilitate? their record permanently.
Randy Kutter, Princeton, Minn., said he's gone down that road - only to find frustration.
He had drunken driving offenses in 1981 and 1986 and was denied entry in fall 2005, while trying to cross into Canada at Baudette, Minn., on a fishing trip.
To get in, he said he paid about $240 for a one-time visitors permit and then put down more money later to start rehabilitating his record - a process requiring copies of the original charging documents.
?I then spent two days running around to different courthouses and found there were no records left,? Kutter said. ?I eventually gave up.?
Kutter added, ?Now, I do not admit to being arrested when I cross the border, but it is very stressful.?