Friday, September 9, 2011
Fans of Janet Napolitano’s Dept of Homeland Security have their work cut out for them to defend this.
According to the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, more than a dozen Canadians have told the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office in Toronto within the past year that they were blocked from entering the United States after their records of mental illness were shared with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Lois Kamenitz, 65, of Toronto contacted the office last fall, after U.S. customs officials at Pearson International Airport prevented her from boarding a flight to Los Angeles on the basis of her suicide attempt four years earlier.
Kamenitz says she was stopped at customs after showing her passport and asked to go to a secondary screening. There, a Customs and Border Protection officer told Kamenitz that he had information that police had attended her home in 2006.
“I was really perturbed,” Kamenitz says. “I couldn’t figure out what he meant. And then it dawned on me that he was referring to the 911 call my partner made when I attempted suicide.”
Brad Benson from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says medical records aren’t shared between countries. However, “if you have an arrest record, Canada would share that with us,” he says.
If a police encounter includes information about mental health, Benson says front-line officers can use it.
“Mental illness is actually under our law as a reason that you may not get admitted,” he says. “The issue is always going to be: could someone be a danger to someone [else]?”
According to diplomatic cables released earlier this year by WikiLeaks, any information entered into the national Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database is accessible to American authorities.