Cross-border Travel

U.S. Border and Immigration Officials May Have your Mental Health History

In January 2011, the Police Record Check Coalition began investigating complaints that persons with a mental health history were being denied entry to the United States. In some cases where the U.S. Department of Homeland Security checks the identification of Canadian citizens, such persons have been denied entry to the United States solely because to their mental health history.
Cases coming to our attention have involved individuals who have attempted suicide. However, anyone with mental health information on their police record may be effected.

How do U.S. Officials obtain this information?

Police in Canada can make a record any time they are actively involved with a person. This can include information about incidents where the police respond to a person needing mental health services. In these circumstances, police may record information about the mental health of the person. (For more information on such incidents, see the Police Record Check Coalition Advocacy Guide to Police Record Checks in Ontario).

Information entered into local police databases may be transmitted to the national police information database called the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). This national database is administered by the RCMP on behalf of participating police forces across Canada. In turn, CPIC provides to their database to the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. This is the information used to determine, in part, who can enter the United States.

I have previously had no issue crossing the border. Can this effect me?

Yes. It is possible that a record not previously part of the CPIC database has subsequently been included in the national database, and in turn disclosed to the United States government. It is also possible that this information was previously available to U.S. border security officials but was not acted upon.

What can I do to protect myself? What if I have been denied entry to the United States?

Consult our PRCC Advocacy Guide to Cross-Border Mental Health Records. It tells you what you can do if you have been denied entry to the United States, and steps you can take to protect yourself prior to traveling.

PRCC Connect

Public Speakers

The Police Record Check Coalition regularly engages in stakeholder consultation, public education, and information sessions on all issues related to police background checks, mental health records, and your rights under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Police Services Act, and the new OACP Guideline on Police Record Checks.

Please send us an email if you would like us to speak to your organization.