Border Inspection

Shame on the U.S. Border Patrol for seizing car keys and passports without explanation and deliberately making citizens and tourists feel like criminals. I was inspected yet again, this time while crossing from Sarnia into Port Huron. These officers always go the extra mile, crafting every statement into an accusation or threat.

Officer #1: “Turn off the engine and step out of the vehicle.”
Officer #2: “Who said you can open the door?”

It’s shocking how quickly you can go from the safe interior of your car to standing in a stainless steel room surrounded by men with guns, not knowing what will happen to you next. If any interaction with the government demands courtesy and professionalism, it ought to be when an armed public servant is holding your passport while his colleagues comb through your personal belongings without pretext. Instead, our nation’s borders are patrolled by steroids with sidearms, men who snap gum in your face and flex their power out of sheer boredom, demanding fear and gratitude rather than earning our trust.

After forty-five minutes, Officer #1 threw my passport on the stainless steel counter and walked away. “You can go.” Since 2001, this has quietly become the new normal, this culture of suspicion and paranoia. We deserve better. America should be ashamed of the way it greets its visitors and welcomes its citizens.

End rant. Cue the song. More border patrol inspections here and here.

The Ventures – Fear
from The Ventures in Space. Dolton Records, 1963 | buy mp3s

4 thoughts on “Border Inspection”

  1. James says:

    Yep. My small rant only touches the outermost edge of our hostile culture of policing, racial profiling, and privatized jails. The impromptu checkpoints on back roads anywhere within 100 miles of the border frighten me the most: they exist only for drug searches that feed for-profit prisons. My car was searched nine times while driving between California and Texas — and I’m a square-looking white guy in a Honda Accord.

    I’m mystified why these intrusions don’t stoke the anger of the “don’t tread on me” crowd. However, I believe we can change the storyline by complaining loudly about these checkpoints until they become a source of national embarrassment. Where (and how) to effectively do this complaining is my next question…

  2. Mark says:

    It’s strange how in the late 1990s you could ride a bicycle over the border to Canada with no identification and it wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. My, how times have changed.

  3. James says:

    I wonder if these changes can ever be undone. Has any society ever relaxed its security measures? I think you can take a lighter on an airplane now, but that’s the only example that comes to mind.

  4. James H. says:

    As someone who’s sort of been on the other side, I wonder what their story is. Young boys and girls don’t go into public service because they want to pick on other boys and girls. (I know, some probably do, but I’ve never personally met anyone who did.) In an interview, you’d mentioned a story about 4 high schoolers in a big pick-up who helped you back onto the road. Seems like the only difference between the two groups is about 4-8 years. Seems like a pretty direct link back to the theme of how one becomes a man in America.

Leave a Reply