Do Databases Cross a Line In Border Checks?

In the past three years, Ann Wright, who lives in Hawaii, has traveled to Canada five times and been denied entry twice. Each of the five times, Canadian authorities questioned the 63-year-old based on their own review of U.S. criminal justice databases containing Wright’s misdemeanor arrest record. In 2007, Wright says, she was turned back to the U.S. after being questioned about the prior arrests, despite holding an invitation to Ottawa from three Canadian Parliament members, who were waiting at the airport to pick her up.

Thousands of times each day, Canadian authorities tap into sensitive U.S. government databases to check the criminal histories of U.S. citizens who are crossing the border or have been entangled in the Canadian criminal justice system, FBI records show. The databases are an integral part of security operations for Canadian officials, who are preparing for June meetings of the Group of Eight summit of the world’s leading economic powers and the G-20 leaders of developed and developing countries. The summit meetings have drawn thousands of protesters in the past, including at last year’s G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh.

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