Man barred from U.S. for 56-year-old crime
Published Thursday, May 19, 2011 5:08PM PDT
A 74-year-old B.C. man with a record of just one crime half a century ago has now been barred from the U.S. as a threat to national security.
George Langeman was 17 years old when he and a friend broke into a convenience store in Point Roberts, WA and stole some wine in 1955. He was sentenced to three years in jail and banned from the U.S. for three years.
"It was just a stupid thing. We made a stupid mistake," he told CTV News.
Langeman never committed another crime, and after serving his time, has been free to travel back and forth across the border, sometimes as often as twice a week.
But in October, on a trip to see friends south of the border, U.S. customs officials at the Aldergrove crossing asked if he had ever been arrested. Langeman told them about the 1955 conviction, and he was denied entry.
"I thought they were nuts. I mean, good God, I've been going down for years, and now all of a sudden I have to pay for this crime all over again?" he said.
"I figure that they've got a higher risk of terrorists now, so maybe this is what they're looking for."
Canadians with criminal convictions on either side of the border must obtain a waiver to enter the U.S.; only a few types of crimes like impaired driving and shoplifting are exempt.
His lawyer Len Saunders thinks that U.S. government databases are becoming more thorough, but believes there should be limits to the country's caution.
"I think after a number of years, especially after a 55-year-old criminal conviction, I think there should be some consideration given for someone to have been deemed rehabilitated," he said.
Langeman will need the waiver to visit his grandchildren in the States, but the prospect of being hassled at the border has him wanting to stick close to home.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Mi-Jung Lee