The Strange Case of Ellen Richardson and Homeland Security

Richardson says she has been on several cruises which required U.S. flights, with no problems.


Was Ellen Richardson, a Canadian woman with depression really kept out of the United States? That's the claim that is being made.

A Toronto woman denied a flight to New York as part of a cruise trip wants to know who told U.S. border agents about her history of mental illness.

Ellen Richardson says she was told by U.S. customs at Pearson International Airport on Monday that because she had been hospitalized for clinical depression in June 2012, she could not enter the U.S.

As a result, she missed her flight to New York City and a Caribbean cruise, for which she had paid $6,000, as a result.

Only later, she added, did she wonder how the agent knew her history in the first place. Richardson says she has been on several cruises since 2001, all of which required U.S. flights, with no problems.

The Toronto Star is already hysterically muttering about Big Brother and using the case to attack the Harper government. but there are a couple of problems.

If U.S. Homeland Security can call up our supposedly private health records, does it have access to other government information about us? Somebody in Ottawa or Queen’s Park had better be able to explain how a U.S. Homeland Security agent was able to access a Canadian’s personal health information.

Did this case even happen? Richardson claims to have traveled repeatedly to the US with no problem. The United States obviously doesn't bar people with depression from entry. If it did... it would be barring a whole lot of people.

Finding out that Ellen Richardson suffered from serious depression isn't hard. Her self-branded website discusses it. And it's one of the first things to come up when you google her. The book doesn't mention her most recent hospitalization, but it does mention multiple prior suicide attempts and hospitalizations.

Back in 2011, the CBC ran a story suggesting that the United States was barring some Canadians with mental problems. There was one document presented. And again it involved a suicide attempt.

Seemingly people who attempt suicide result in a police record which is then used to keep them from entering the country.

The US State Department Foreign Affairs Visa Manual does mention suicide attempts. It distinguishes between crimes which involve moral turpitude and which do not. Suicide does not involve moral turpitude is listed under 9 FAM 40.21(a) N2.3-3 Crimes Committed Against Person, Family Relationship, and Sexual Morality.

Crimes committed against the person, family relationship, or sexual morality which do not involve moral turpitude include:
(1) Assault (simple) (i.e., any assault, which does not require an evil intent or depraved motive, although it may involve the use of a weapon, which is neither dangerous nor deadly);
(2) Illegitimacy (i.e., the offense of begetting an illegitimate child);
(3) Creating or maintaining a nuisance (where knowledge that premises
were used for prostitution is not necessary);
(4) Incest (when a result of a marital status prohibited by law);
(5) Involuntary manslaughter (when killing is not the result of recklessness);
(6) Libel;
(7) Mailing an obscene letter;
(8) Mann Act violations (where coercion is not present);
(9) Riot; and
(10) Suicide (attempted).

It's an oddball assortment. Are we actually barring people who produce illegitimate children from America? If we did, Obama wouldn't be here. Also incest isn't a crime of moral turpitude.