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jdc5294
03-21-2015, 21:03
This is something that sprung to my mind as I was getting nostalgic about my thru 3 years ago (wow, that long ago?). I remember I came to a hostel in New Hampshire and the owner at the door asked me what my destination was. After wondering why I was being quizzed for a beat, I replied "Katahdin?" and he smiled and let me in. He told me he did that to make sure everyone coming in was in fact a hiker and not some homeless person just looking for a bed. Come to think of it we all fit that description anyway, but I digress.

So I was wondering if this is a common occurrence, people not hiking the trail making use of the hostels? Not sure how many hostel owners use WhiteBlaze but maybe some other hikers have some stories.

Crazy Larry #1
03-21-2015, 21:04
It is common for mine.......

kayak karl
03-21-2015, 21:09
they are referred to as posers.

Crazy Larry #1
03-21-2015, 21:15
Yeah they'll come in saying they're hiking the AT and I will question them, but if I feel comfortable with them I will let them stay.....

squeezebox
03-22-2015, 00:17
The idea of being homeless but having the money for a hostel does not add up for me. In St. Louis the urban homeless are mostly downtown. There are a couple of tent towns, 1 is a fenced off area on city hall property. 1 near the river. and a few dead warehouses. Glad the city realizes it's cheaper to provide them with minimal services than throw them in jail. Rural homelessness is an issue that does not get much attention.

MuddyWaters
03-22-2015, 01:36
The idea of being homeless but having the money for a hostel does not add up for me

Vagrants may not intend to pay. They like to sponge off the goodwill in the hiker community, especially hiker boxes. Not that i care, anything dumped in one is for anyone that can use it imo.

nuknees
03-22-2015, 06:09
Hm. I would think that hostels would ask for $$$ first and that the homeless wouldn't be able to pay. I'm also trying to remember if I've ever seen a homeless person with a backpack. I've seen some with a duffle bag but mostly they are pushing around shopping carts or carrying their belongings in trash bags.

coach lou
03-22-2015, 06:53
Yeah they'll come in saying they're hiking the AT and I will question them, but if I feel comfortable with them I will let them stay.....

You get a bunch of likes Tow..........this is the only way to roll.:D

Starchild
03-22-2015, 07:04
I met one at the church run hostel at DWG. He signed in as IIRC Satan and his dog as Lucifer though that may have been reversed. He was hiking the trail only because the police hassle him less on it rather then walking the roads and he was on his way from PA to the Rainbow gathering in CT. This appeared to be his 2nd night at this hostel, and with the breakfast included and 'free' donation based stay I can see why he chose a 2nd night. When I left this hostel I though this was the last I would see of him.

I had 2 occasions to talk with him the first at the hostel which he did something that stuck me as odd, he asked if he could sit down on the couch I was sitting on, even though there was clearly a empty seat. I could not deny him a seat, but truth be told I really didn't want him to sit next to me. In afterthought perhaps this is some sort of prison etiquette for such a situation, I don't know but it does sound plausible. The second time was on the trail, he and Lucifer was in a small clearing near the trail in NJ eating lunch, which gave me more insight into his journey, and answered the question how he got ahead of me this far down the trail. I let him know that in NY the trail would turn away from where he wanted to go and he may want to get off the trail and seek a more direct route.

He had very little gear and hiked in a ski bib in the summer, this he also used to sleep in as he had no sleeping gear. Often ate dry uncooked rice and threw it up sometime later down the trail. He did also have a can of dog food which was given to him for his dog. The Pastor of the hostel drove him 20 miles AT NoBo and dropped him off at a trail head, this was to ensure he didn't come back (which is how he did get ahead of me).

Other thru hikers were very uncomfortable around him, some, particularly female, hikers paired up for a time, including one that asked me to hike with her, well not directly but expressed concern so we hiked together that day. Another thru hiker got to a shelter alone, and set up for the night, Satan then came in after dark and talked with this hiker in the shelter, preventing him from sleeping and making him uncomfortable till very late. The thru hiker decided it was better and safer to move on, so packed his stuff up in the dark and hiked further down trail and found a spot in the woods to make camp and go back to sleep.

I found him a interesting part of the hike and never really felt threatened by him, My take, a lost soul in many respects, just wandering around that happened to stumble into the wonderfully blessed world of the AT. Not that he was accepted, but he did see it and get to experience a small piece of it, and I do wonder if it made a positive mark on him.

kayak karl
03-22-2015, 08:23
these are not your typical homeless. they have a little money and a lot of stories. they're hiking north, they're hiking south, section hiking, veteran, hippie, retired, unemployed, on SSI........the story will change depending on who they are talking to. they will ask to "borrow" money (they have a check coming soon) and will hope you leave before that get said check. watch your pack, they may offer to watch it for you :) they will stay at hostel while others go shopping. i know TOW will remember No-Name-No-Bo in '09. at Chets place in Lincoln Let-It-Be spotted a poser getting off the shuttle. i don't know how he knew, but he was right and was kicked out next day.
when crime on the trail in mentioned, i always think of these type of people.

Bronk
03-22-2015, 08:43
Every year there seem to be a few homeless that stumble upon the trail and become half assed thruhikers, mostly hanging around with other hikers in order to take advantage of free lodging at hostels, free food, etc.

kayak karl
03-22-2015, 08:56
Every year there seem to be a few homeless that stumble upon the trail and become half assed thruhikers, mostly hanging around with other hikers in order to take advantage of free lodging at hostels, free food, etc. but nothing like "real" thruhikers counting on trail magic :D

nuknees
03-22-2015, 09:42
watch your pack, they may offer to watch it for you :) they will stay at hostel while others go shopping.

Wow...I hadn't even even thought about that! What does one do about pack security while at hostel's and resupplying?
I can see that even some 'real dishonest hikers' taking that advantage of unguarded packs at hostels...for instance if they see you have some gear they don't or that is better than what they have such as a nice 900 fill sweater or sleeping bag.

MuddyWaters
03-22-2015, 09:57
Wow...I hadn't even even thought about that! What does one do about pack security while at hostel's and resupplying?
I can see that even some 'real dishonest hikers' taking that advantage of unguarded packs at hostels...for instance if they see you have some gear they don't or that is better than what they have such as a nice 900 fill sweater or sleeping bag.

Problems are very are, but have happened. Someone posted on here once a sizeable sum of money was taken out their pack at a hostel, it was in envelope ducttaped to the inside of the pack., under all their gear.

The problem is, it can end a hike if it happens.

I am uncomfortable milling about towns with my stuff not locked away or left in someone i trusts care. So i really like hotel rooms over hostels. Plus i like quiet, big beds, and long hot showers.

Walkintom
03-22-2015, 10:08
My pack has never been left unattended when someone I suspect in the least has had access to it. Simple risk vs. reward.

I recall one instance where we stayed at a hostel for 2 days and paid the owner for a slackpack. At the end of the first day, after the slackpack, the hostel operator was making the daily run to town to allow hikers to resupply. My wife stayed at the hostel while I went to town because a slightly shady hiker arrived and stated that he didn't need anything but 10 minutes or so to recharge his phone and wanted to check the place out for future hikes. We'd encountered him before and felt he was safe to be around, but not too trustworthy to be unattended around your possessions. He was 'not quite homeless.' He'd told us up front he was eating out of hiker boxes to save $$$ which is an excellent usage of the food imo, but too many things he said added up to him being a petty thief.
.
While the hostel operator was in town with us the guy also used the shower, did a load of laundry and then went on his way without paying anything for those services. Things that didn't have a price tag, but for which compensation was clearly expected and which the guy indicated that he did pay for - only he didn't. Not great amounts of theft, but clearly an abuse of the hospitality and who knows what conveniently portable items might have gone missing if no one were hanging around. At the least, I suspect that the hostel operator would have also been out some food items from the hiker pantry.

You don't have to automatically distrust someone who appears to be trail homeless, but it's usually safe to assume that they deserve a little more vigilance.

nuknees
03-22-2015, 10:26
My wife stayed at the hostel while I went to town....

A great solution if you have a partner...but what are the options if you hike alone? Muddy, I hear ya about staying in hotels but that kind of expense can end a hike for me (limited $$$) just as well as coming back to hostel and finding some of my expensive gear I worked and saved for for so long gone! UG!
I've never been to a hostel and I don't know how they are setup. I assume in many different ways, but I guess I was imagining them to have a front desk or 'main house' the caretakers live in that one could ask if they could leave their pack 'behind the counter' so to speak or in the main house where it could be watched while you resupply in town or go to restaurant.

MuddyWaters
03-22-2015, 10:28
You don't have to automatically distrust someone who appears to be trail homeless, but it's usually safe to assume that they deserve a little more vigilance.

I like the term trail- homeless. These folks are sometimes actually hiking and living on the trail. Sometimes they are running from law or mentally not-right. But what differentiates them, is everyone else is on vacation, these people are scrounging the fringe of society trying to exist.

Walkintom
03-22-2015, 10:43
A great solution if you have a partner...but what are the options if you hike alone? Muddy, I hear ya about staying in hotels but that kind of expense can end a hike for me (limited $$$) just as well as coming back to hostel and finding some of my expensive gear I worked and saved for for so long gone! UG!
I've never been to a hostel and I don't know how they are setup. I assume in many different ways, but I guess I was imagining them to have a front desk or 'main house' the caretakers live in that one could ask if they could leave their pack 'behind the counter' so to speak or in the main house where it could be watched while you resupply in town or go to restaurant.


Hostels vary greatly. The one I mentioned is run out of the guy's basement, which is really well geared out to treat up to 8 or so hikers nicely. There's a freezer and fridge stocked with food you can buy, there are bunk beds, a separate living room area with TV and lots of books, a bathroom with shower and a tiny laundry room. At this place, hikers essentially check themselves in and meet the operator when he comes through. The food he stocks is run on the honor system with a clipboard and log sheet to keep track of your in-house purchases. Pay on the way out.

Other places accept money up front, may be open only certain hours, etc. Everyone does it the way they feel best for their particular operation.

If I am not comfortable leaving my pack somewhere then I don't do it. Whether that means skipping the town run, carrying my pack in the trunk of the vehicle, locking it up somewhere safe - that's what I do. There are many solutions and as long as you're polite and solution oriented you can come up with something workable.

MuddyWaters
03-22-2015, 11:29
Yep, hostels vary from literally...someones garage...to essentially very nice bed and breakfast inns with outstanding food, where the only thing that makes it a hostel is you are in a group room.

Second Hand
03-22-2015, 13:23
I met one at the church run hostel at DWG. He signed in as IIRC Satan and his dog as Lucifer though that may have been reversed. He was hiking the trail only because the police hassle him less on it rather then walking the roads and he was on his way from PA to the Rainbow gathering in CT. This appeared to be his 2nd night at this hostel, and with the breakfast included and 'free' donation based stay I can see why he chose a 2nd night. When I left this hostel I though this was the last I would see of him.

I had 2 occasions to talk with him the first at the hostel which he did something that stuck me as odd, he asked if he could sit down on the couch I was sitting on, even though there was clearly a empty seat. I could not deny him a seat, but truth be told I really didn't want him to sit next to me. In afterthought perhaps this is some sort of prison etiquette for such a situation, I don't know but it does sound plausible. The second time was on the trail, he and Lucifer was in a small clearing near the trail in NJ eating lunch, which gave me more insight into his journey, and answered the question how he got ahead of me this far down the trail. I let him know that in NY the trail would turn away from where he wanted to go and he may want to get off the trail and seek a more direct route.

He had very little gear and hiked in a ski bib in the summer, this he also used to sleep in as he had no sleeping gear. Often ate dry uncooked rice and threw it up sometime later down the trail. He did also have a can of dog food which was given to him for his dog. The Pastor of the hostel drove him 20 miles AT NoBo and dropped him off at a trail head, this was to ensure he didn't come back (which is how he did get ahead of me).

Other thru hikers were very uncomfortable around him, some, particularly female, hikers paired up for a time, including one that asked me to hike with her, well not directly but expressed concern so we hiked together that day. Another thru hiker got to a shelter alone, and set up for the night, Satan then came in after dark and talked with this hiker in the shelter, preventing him from sleeping and making him uncomfortable till very late. The thru hiker decided it was better and safer to move on, so packed his stuff up in the dark and hiked further down trail and found a spot in the woods to make camp and go back to sleep.

I found him a interesting part of the hike and never really felt threatened by him, My take, a lost soul in many respects, just wandering around that happened to stumble into the wonderfully blessed world of the AT. Not that he was accepted, but he did see it and get to experience a small piece of it, and I do wonder if it made a positive mark on him.


I think I shared a shelter with this guy in CT on an October night in 2010. I was doing a quick section and got to the MT. Algo Shelter just before sun down. I set up shop and was almost asleep when he strolled in with his dog and wearing a ski bib.

He told me all sorts of crazy stories. I mean, I could have written a book with this guys stories! Everything from being bitten by a rattlesnake in PA to finding a dead body and being questioned by the FBI in VA. Then there was a really creepy story that I actually went home and validated.... save that for another day.

Anyway, he was not a thru-hiker, although he claimed that he had hiked up and down the trail several times. He said he had gotten a job installing fences in Kent and he was going to sleep in the Shelters until work ran out, then he was heading South for warmer weather.

His trail name, at least at that point, was Wild Bill.

NY HIKER 50
03-22-2015, 14:50
It's my turn to chime in and I'm not mincing words. I had this suspicion for many years that the homeless shelters hand out maps to the trails. Many times I have come across a shelter that was taken over by a few of them. Since at the time I was a monitor I made a full report. Other times I was out of my area and reported them to the local club and the townspeople (usually the townspeople are the more effective ones). I have run into too many "posers" or homeless people masquerading as "hikers". They also try to use the hostels and try to take advantage of us regular hikers.

Now I'm really going to ruffle feathers! The shelters should be taken down in favor of leaving nothing but campsites. Campsites have less maintenance anyway and it costs the local maintaining clubs tons of money to maintain the shelters and make repairs because of people using them that are unfit to sleep with the pigs. That way the partiers, homless, creeps and other miscreants have no place to take over unless they are carrying a K-Mart special tent. As for the hostels, what can I say? It's up to the owner to make the call or the people staying there to alert them to the presence of this type of person. That is my stand and I just hope it comes to pass.

nuknees
03-22-2015, 15:12
Now I'm really going to ruffle feathers! The shelters should be taken down in favor of leaving nothing but campsites. Campsites have less maintenance anyway and it costs the local maintaining clubs tons of money to maintain the shelters and make repairs because of people using them that are unfit to sleep with the pigs. That way the partiers, homless, creeps and other miscreants have no place to take over unless they are carrying a K-Mart special tent.

Interesting take. That would surely discourage some. Other's would start carting out debris and build one. I've seen it out a field while bird hunting in my region, which would then end up becoming mini junk yards all littered up. The other thing I struggle with on this idea is that during real foul weather I like the idea that there is a shelter up a head I can take refuge in till the violent storm passes. I'm a tarp tenter myself but I've been out there in some violent storms that scared the day lights outta me and was glad to have something solid over my head!

NY HIKER 50
03-22-2015, 16:23
Interesting take. That would surely discourage some. Other's would start carting out debris and build one. I've seen it out a field while bird hunting in my region, which would then end up becoming mini junk yards all littered up. The other thing I struggle with on this idea is that during real foul weather I like the idea that there is a shelter up a head I can take refuge in till the violent storm passes. I'm a tarp tenter myself but I've been out there in some violent storms that scared the day lights outta me and was glad to have something solid over my head!

If you can't contrive a dry camp you should go home. In NY State you are not allowed to put up any permanent structure. I have been in more storms than I can count myself. I figure if I hear the thunder I'm still alive. And as for the hostels, now you folks know the reason why there are less of them every year. I'm still sticking with my campsite theory.

Slo-go'en
03-22-2015, 16:31
The vast majority of shelters are too remote and too hard to get to for squatters to set up camp in them. Maybe there are a few in NY which are too easy to access that they can be a problem, but that's no reason to condemn them all.

squeezebox
03-22-2015, 16:41
It's well known that social workers will send their clients to places where they might be tolerated. Hanging out at the mall is not okay. Contra dancing and hiking being frequent suggestions. Many years ago one of the best callers in the USA addressed this issue. His take was we as as a group of dancers , not individuals, have a social responsibility to help socialize this person in a safe environment. Cause it ain't gonna happen out in the real world. So it's the same thing with hikers, unless the person is being dangerous, sexually aggressive or such, we have a responsibility to help socialize this person, and part of that is calling them on their BS. nobody else will. Most people that are mentally ill know that they are.

NY HIKER 50
03-22-2015, 17:20
"It's well known that social workers will send their clients to places where they might be tolerated."

I think I made my point. Here's a map the the trail and the hostels. Now I can clear my workload. And the other person is wrong. It's not the remoteness of the shelter, it's partly how close it is to a town and other hikers for a handout.

Access means nothing. As long as you can get away with something you will. I know shelters in NY are close to roads but so are others in some other states.

nuknees
03-22-2015, 17:43
If you can't contrive a dry camp you should go home. I have been in more storms than I can count myself. I figure if I hear the thunder I'm still alive.

Hmm. I'm a little offended you think that my worry is getting wet in these storms?
I'm concerned about being injured or worse from falling branches...and those things they grow out of. I feel a bit safer in a shelter until these kind of storms pass. (Thinks I'm concerned about being wet...LOL!)
I like your idea, honestly, all I was saying is I was glad one was around to take refuge in for safety and I'm sure many share my sentiment.

MuddyWaters
03-22-2015, 17:49
As long as vagrants actually hike, and move around, and dont squat and take up residence, they are hikers, and have the same right to be on trail as everyone else. Issues are only about being mentally unstable, threatening, theivery, panhandling, etc.

squeezebox
03-22-2015, 22:04
Hobo = an itiinerant worker
Tramp = itinerant non-worker























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Hobo= an itinerant worker
Tramp = itinerant non-worker
Bum = non-itinerant non-worker

kayak karl
03-22-2015, 22:27
Hobo = an itiinerant worker
Tramp = itinerant non-workerHobo= an itinerant worker
Tramp = itinerant non-worker
Bum = non-itinerant non-worker

we love to label people. put them in a little convenient box. makes our lives easier. how about Beggar? aren't we all beggars in some way. begging for that raise, promotion, a relationship to change. some are just more open and honest about what they are. :)

Odd Man Out
03-22-2015, 22:33
I have spent only one night in a hostel (4 Pines by the Dragon's Tooth, VA, last July) but encountered someone who fits the description of the homeless hiker. I met him (Cap'n Jack) at the convenience store up the road. He was scruffy, smelly, and profane - in other words, a "normal" hiker as far as I could tell. He told me he was heading NOBO, but had hitch hiked to the hostel two days ago so he could slack pack the section south of there. That morning he continued his NOBO hike, but at the McAfee's Knob trail head decided to hitch hike back to the convenience store for more Pizza. He had also purchased a couple of cases of beer to share in the hostel ice chest. The more he drank, the louder and more profane he got - not threatening - just rude. Then around 8 PM he comes walking up the driveway from the main house, mad as a hornet, saying that the owner told him it was time for him to move on. He was most upset about getting thrown out just an hour before dark. He then went into a 30 minute profane tirade about his life, how the hostel owner is a ****, etc... There were about 6 of us watching all this. We tried to engage him in some calming conversation, but he just wanted to vent so we mostly just stayed out of his way. He said that he wasn't going to leave any of his donated beer so he grabbed a 5 gal plastic bucket from the chicken coop and dumped the entire contents of the ice chest into it (with about half of the beer ending on the ground). He then went around with his trekking pole puncturing the cans that he wasn't going to be able to take with him. He then spent 5 minutes trying to collapse his trekking poles which he strapped to his pack so he could carry his bucket of beer. After a few more choice words, he began looking all over the place as if something was missing. He eventually said he was looking for his trekking poles. After 5 more minutes, someone got up enough nerve to remind him that he had just strapped them to his pack, at which point he laughed at himself and hiked away with his bucket of beer. The next morning, the owner came out checking to see if he had left. It seems that the owner only wanted him to leave in the morning (not the previous night).

I took the next day off due to a bum knee and then was shuttled to the McAfee's Knob trailhead which I did as a day hike for the last day of my trip. On the way back to the parking lot I was a little worried I might run into him again, but instead ran into a very nice husband/wife couple with a dog whom I had met on the first day of my hike and had also witnessed the hostel tantrum. They said he had spent the whole next day camped just a few hundred yards down the road from the hostel drinking beer. They described him as a "homeless person pretending to be a hiker".

squeezebox
03-22-2015, 22:40
sorry for messing up.

joshuasdad
03-23-2015, 09:19
I would like to see more pavilion type day use "shelters" on the trail, and fewer three sided shelters. Something that is nice enough to take a short break, to cook a meal, do a pack explosion, or wait out a thunderstorm, but not a comfortable place to sleep. Even use "iceburgs" (like fixed benches, rocks under tables, ridges in benches/tables) and posted restrictions to deter sleeping in one unless absolutely necessary.


That being said, in vulnerable high elevation areas, and NH/Maine, shelters help minimize impact, and are needed during emergencies. You don't have too much shelter abuse in NH/Maine anyway...

Crazy Larry #1
03-23-2015, 09:31
Vagrants may not intend to pay. They like to sponge off the goodwill in the hiker community, especially hiker boxes. Not that i care, anything dumped in one is for anyone that can use it imo.
I agree with that and something out of hiker box may help someone who is in fact in this situation to survive one more day....

Jeff
03-23-2015, 09:33
We have had a couple of homeless folks show up at our hostel. They were both directed here by locals in town who were asked about places to stay. When a town person sees a backpack they automatically think "hiker".

Crazy Larry #1
03-23-2015, 09:40
We have had a couple of homeless folks show up at our hostel. They were both directed here by locals in town who were asked about places to stay. When a town person sees a backpack they automatically think "hiker".
Yep that's true.....

Damascus is a very transient town, we not only have the AT coming thru but we have the 76 Rt coming thru which is better known as the TransAmerican Bicycle Route and we have two major Highways 58/91. All of them run right past my front door. So I have an opportunity to help a lot of folks and there are some pretty good homeless folks and there are some rotten ones just like there is in the hiking community....

Bronk
03-23-2015, 13:35
It always cracks me up when people make statements about homeless people on the trail, in shelters, using hiker services. Likewise with people using the shelters to party. And people that are hiking in blue jeans. Or carrying an ax. Or they've got a bucket or a duffle bag instead of a pack. The implication is usually that these people aren't really hikers, or that they aren't supposed to be on the trail, or camping, or using service providers (free or otherwise).

Folks, the way you do things isn't the only way to do them, and if you don't like it you can keep on walking until you can't smell them anymore because we all know YOUR crap doesn't stink. The trail is open to the public. It doesn't belong to middle class americans. It wasn't built for thruhikers. More than 2 million people set foot on that trail every year, and you know what? The vast majority of them aren't there for the same reasons as the people on this forum.

Coffee
03-23-2015, 13:44
While I think that it is a good idea to be very aware of surroundings and to use common sense when interacting with people on the trail or in hostels, I try to keep in mind the following:

1. People who do long distance hiking can be on the "eccentric" side and I don't exclude myself from that characterization.
2. Not everyone has money for the latest in UL gear.
3. Simply having heavy gear or "Wal Mart" style gear alone doesn't mean that someone isn't a "real" hiker.
4. Lot of people who are just starting with backpacking may carry all sorts of "inappropriate" gear.
5. I can think of worse pass times for a homeless person than walking the trail. In fact I think it is a great idea.

Son Driven
03-23-2015, 15:59
Jesus was homeless.

Fredt4
03-23-2015, 16:46
One shouldn't send homeless people to hiker's hostels or shelters because homeless people generally need social services that aren't available in in hikers hostels and shelters. As a hiker I don't wish to encounter a homeless person while hiking, especially where I'll be sleeping, as I'll not have the homeless persons history to help me in dealing with them. It's simply irresponsible to both the hiking community and the the homeless to encourage them to mix. Properly funding homeless shelters and services is the solution, sending them for a hike is not a proper solution.

bamboo bob
03-23-2015, 17:08
"Homeless" is a 21st century way of saying crazy street person. Not having a home is truly the least of their problems. Honestly if you were homeless don't you have a friend, a relative, brother, somebody who would let you live in the spare room? the basement? the garage? the barn? These "homeless" have burned all those bridges. The trail is not a solution for them. Being REQUIRED to take their meds might be.

Sheriff Cougar
03-27-2015, 22:06
Not sure I get the warm fuzzies knowing about your 'screening' process for letting people stay in your Hostel, Larry. Being a female causes me to give pause to where I stay. Just sayin'.

mcgrabo
03-28-2015, 05:59
Hello Sheriff; Agree with you on that comment.

Tuckahoe
03-28-2015, 06:44
As a proprietor of a hostel, I would say that not only does he have a right, but a responsibility to screen those seeking to stay and weeding out the potential troublemakers.