The shot heard ’round the Range

That old DWI could keep you out of Canada
Thanks to post-9/11 border security, new crime databases and a tougher stance on DWIs, U.S. citizens get the cold shoulder.

Star Tribune, December 30, 2007

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, MINN. – Yanks with youthful indiscretions, beware: That faded citation for driving drunk or smoking pot might not keep you from becoming president of the United States, but with post-9/11 border security, it might keep you from visiting Canada.

Americans have traditionally crossed into Canada with just a few friendly questions and a wave. But stricter anti-terrorism measures and Canada’s already tougher stance on crimes such as drunken driving have resulted in many average Americans getting the cold shoulder at the border.

Just ask Bob Hohman, 54, a computer network security analyst from Roseville.
Hohman said he quit drinking after two drunken-driving offenses in the 1970s. By 2004, the convictions were such ancient history that he didn’t think twice about disclosing them 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. The agent said it didn’t matter that he had crossed annually for at least 10 years or that he hadn’t had a drink since 1979.

“I was kind of astonished,” Hohman said. “I was like, ‘C’mon, all of a sudden I’m not worthy to be in your country?'” Hohman said he and his brother drove to a different border crossing, steeled their nerves, didn’t mention his record and crossed “without further incident.”

Read the rest here.

I don’t know what’s worse, the belief that this kind of red tape is somehow making us safe and/or improving the world, or the fact that the subtle message here is that it’s better to deceive the border police. Score another big win for Homeland Security. Now we’re going to have to build a wall along our northern border to keep half the people from my high school crossing in the dead of night with a case of beer in one hand and a fishing pole in the other.

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