I have a question about border-crossing to the United States. Pardons Canada helped me to successfully obtain my pardon in 2017. (Thank you!)
At no point between the time that I was first arrested and charged in 2000, and the granting of my pardon in 2017 did I ever attempt to enter the United States. US Customs has never ‘looked me up’.
On the website of pardons.org – there is a page on border crossings which states:
People with criminal records have two options. If you have yet to have a background check conducted, but have a criminal record, you can get a Record Suspension here in Canada. This clears your record entirely from any future background checks the CBP may conduct on the Canadian criminal database.
Since my pardon has been obtained, in theory this should allow me to cross the border without worry. However, I am reading a lot of conflicting information in the news which is advising that CBP can still see everything (or even a ‘ghost’ entry) on CPIC, including pardoned offences; or at the mimimum the fact that I ever had an entry which means I must have been arrested for something at some point.
In cases he’s familiar with, Railton says that U.S. officials seem to know about the original arrest, and base questioning on that. “Usually, what I’ve seen as a line of inquiry is that the officer doesn’t have complete information, but they have information about an arrest at some point or other, and they make further inquiries about that arrest. They develop that line of information.”
Michael Arntfield, a former police officer who teaches criminology at the University of Western Ontario, says a CPIC entry will still exist after a pardon, though without the details of the offence. “They told me that years ago they would laugh and say ‘Someone gets a pardon, they think they’re so smart,’ that it hides the record. But it actually reveals it. All that a pardon does it that it seals your court records. It’s still on CPIC.”
For example, an offence could have been pardoned, but a reference to the pardon may still be visible in the data.
Pardons Canada: We do not believe that there is any reference to a pardoned offence on a CPIC report. We have never seen an example of that. The whole purpose of the pardon or record suspension is to remove it from CPIC so that it cannot be seen by the public. Including US border officials.
Given the importance of understanding what is true and what is not true in relation to this topic, can you advise with any certainty how much CBP can actually access since they have never pulled my record before, but may or may not have access to some or all information which may or may not still be on CPIC?
Pardons Canada: As stated above, once a pardon is granted the criminal record is removed from the CPIC database which is the database that we believe the Americans can see if they run your name at the border.
It was recommended that persons with a pardon continue with a records destruction request. Was this also part of what I received through Pardons Canada when I received my pardon? Does this make a difference on the above information?
Pardons Canada: Once a pardon or record suspension is granted the criminal record can no longer be seen by the public. There is no reason to take the step of a records destruction as the offence is already gone.