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.
Brad Benson from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says “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]?”