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QUEBEC CITY — Tough new enforcement of immigration laws at the Canadian border has prompted concern that President George W. Bush may have trouble entering the country for the Summit of the Americas, scheduled to begin on Friday.
In preparation for the Summit, authorities have implemented unprecedented security precautions at the border, including checking the arrest records of every entrant into Canada. Now, say some officials, those measures may even be extended to Summit participants including George W. Bush.
“We are looking for any history of criminal activity, any evidence that a certain individual may be harmful to himself or the Canadian people,” said Francois de Rigaud, an immigration official in Quebec.
Yesterday, border police at the Derby crossing in Vermont refused entrance to a prominent New England labor leader, on the grounds that he had been arrested during a Vietnam-era protest in 1971.
The exclusion of the labor official, who was to have participated in an international pre-Summit meeting starting last night, has triggered speculation that President Bush himself may have difficulty crossing the border, due to a conviction for drunken driving in 1976.
“We`re obviously concerned,” said one Republican party leader close to the President. “We weren`t aware that the Canadians were going to be checking records.”
Asked earlier this year about the DUI arrest, President Bush expressed sorrow over the incident. “I regret drinking while intoxicated,” he said, “but I was never under anybody`s influence at the time.” CP