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"For international visitors who see people boarding trains, pulling people off, asking for documents, it feels a lot like East Germany did when I visited in 1980."
January 11, 2011 4:31 PM   Subscribe

Far From Border, U.S. Detains Foreign Students
posted by lalochezia (113 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Customs and Border Protection also maintains that it can set up roadblocks—it prefers the term "temporary permanent checkpoints" for legal reasons—and question people on trains and buses or at transportation stations anywhere within 100 air miles of a U.S. border or seacoast.

Growing up in southern NM, we'd drive through these all the time. They have three of them heading north from El Paso, one between El Paso and Las Cruces, one between Las Cruces and Truth Or Consequences, and one between TorC and Socorro.

They also have a brand new shiny one on US70 just west of the entrance to White Sands National Monument. I visited there with a friend from here in WA state recently, and he was quite disturbed by the experience of having to slow down and tell a man with a gun that he was a US Citizen for no apparent reason.
posted by hippybear at 4:49 PM on January 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


So, it's a lot like driving North on the I-5 from San Diego.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:49 PM on January 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Putting aside all the usual (and appropriate) outrage.. 75 miles really isn't far from the border; an easy hour by car if the conditions are good and you're not caring about the speed limit, slightly longer if you are.
posted by curious nu at 4:50 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry. We are just pretty used to it down here.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:50 PM on January 11, 2011


I feel sick.
posted by strixus at 4:50 PM on January 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, yeah, it didn't bother me at all. But then, as I said, I grew up passing through them any time I wanted to get to Albuquerque.
posted by hippybear at 4:52 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is an admittedly uninformed idea. But:

What if foreign emigres could submit a small-business prospectus at the border, which might allow them the status to form such a business?

So much of the U.S. economy fight is about encouraging small businesses. What if Immigration Reform were amended to allow entrepreneurs?

This is likely a dumb idea, but I don't know why.
posted by nicething at 4:57 PM on January 11, 2011


Once, going through the Border Control checkpoint south of town, about 100 miles from the Mexican border, the agent on duty casually asked, "Are you four American citizens?"

Three of us answered, "Yes."

He waved us on.

The fourth passenger was a dog.

The next time, they tore the car apart looking for drugs. It's a crapshoot.
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 4:57 PM on January 11, 2011 [17 favorites]


Papers, please.

No, not your schoolwork.
posted by Revvy at 4:58 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why do we want to keep people out of the country? We're headed for a demographic disaster on par with Japan, and no Americans want to be itinerant farm workers. Most importantly, a major part of the American system, the system which gave us the illusion of Exceptionalism for so many years, was that Americans were exceptional. Immigrants are strivers, almost by definition. They're hard-working people who aren't afraid to do what it takes to make their lives better. Hitler was worried about this. He thought Germany might be at a disadvantage against a wave of German-Americans, people with pure, aryan, blood and the gumption to cross an ocean for distant lands. He wasn't exactly right, because it was our whole great Mongrel Nation, not just the aryans, who kicked his ass a half-mile underground, playing telephone with imaginary armies.

Is there any wonder that the "golden age" many see us escaping from also coincided with the years of "bring us your weak, your tired, your weary"? If we keep importing the most ambitious people from everywhere, how can we possibly lose?

That shouldn't change because this new wave is heavy on Dominguez and Guttierez and light on O'Brien and Pawlak .
posted by LiteOpera at 5:01 PM on January 11, 2011 [31 favorites]


So that's what it can be like when there's a large institution (university) to back you up. What if you don't?
posted by parudox at 5:02 PM on January 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Are You Living in a Constitution Free Zone?

2/3rds of the population lives within 100 miles of the border. And remember, a border search is very different than a typical LEO search.
posted by ryoshu at 5:04 PM on January 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


Putting aside all the usual (and appropriate) outrage.. 75 miles really isn't far from the border

According to the laws that dictate the legality of these searches, the "border" is also defined by the border on international waters. They could be doing this in Boston, New York, or LA, if they want. It's essentially unchecked power to harass, considering so very many people live in or near cities, and the large majority of those cities are along one of the coasts, the Gulf, or the Lakes.
posted by explosion at 5:07 PM on January 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


What if foreign emigres could submit a small-business prospectus at the border, which might allow them the status to form such a business?

There are provisions to do something like that via embassies/consulates, but at border crossings there are neither the interest nor the resources for anything other than yes/no decisions. This is not unique to the US, for that matter.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:07 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey great, let's give more foreigners -- the best and the brightest, no less, students who will become leaders and opinion makers in their home countries -- another reason to dislike America! To not want to come here, to see us all as officious bullies. That'll win us friends! That'll make us more powerful!

Christ, it's like we want to be dicks. It's like we want to hasten our decline as a nation, it's like we want to squander the respect and admiration WWII and Hollywood generated for us.

"Land of thre Free Harrassed, Home of the Brave Bullies." Jesus Christ.
posted by orthogonality at 5:08 PM on January 11, 2011 [26 favorites]


Customs and Border Protection also maintains that it can set up roadblocks—it prefers the term "temporary permanent checkpoints" for legal reasons—and question people on trains and buses or at transportation stations anywhere within 100 air miles of a U.S. border or seacoast.

So, it's a lot like driving North on the I-5 from San Diego.

Incredible how placidly Americans have accepted such jack-booted thuggery. Applied elsewhere, people would be rioting in the streets. One would be hard-pressed to find any place in England that is more than 100 miles from a "border or seacoast" for example.

posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:08 PM on January 11, 2011


Thanks, anigbrowl. I appreciate the clarification.
posted by nicething at 5:11 PM on January 11, 2011


Incredible how placidly Americans have accepted such jack-booted thuggery. Applied elsewhere, people would be rioting in the streets. One would be hard-pressed to find any place in England that is more than 100 miles from a "border or seacoast" for example.

Americans, like EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD, are often willing to accept things that don't affect them personally. I live in the "Constitution-free" zone mentioned above, but I've never been stopped for my papers there. I suspect that's true for the vast majority of US citizens on, say, the Eastern seaboard.
posted by me & my monkey at 5:14 PM on January 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry. We are just pretty used to it down here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you our newest guest, How It Happens.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:15 PM on January 11, 2011 [25 favorites]


Christ, it's like we want to be dicks. It's like we want to hasten our decline as a nation, it's like we want to squander the respect and admiration WWII and Hollywood generated for us.

Next you'll be telling me bombing civilians creates animosity often expressed in violent payback or something.
posted by yeloson at 5:21 PM on January 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


...but I've never been stopped for my papers there.

But you "look American" (white), right?
posted by phliar at 5:25 PM on January 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


It is almost like people don't know what to do with themselves so they continue doing what they are doing, vaguely afraid, if curious, when they wonder what they would ever do if they stopped doing what they've done so far, something of course but what exactly their not quiet sure, perhaps continuing to do what they are already doing...
posted by Shit Parade at 5:27 PM on January 11, 2011


"temporary permanent checkpoints"

Wait, what? This is probably my (least) favorite Newspeak term I've yet heard.
posted by norm at 5:29 PM on January 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


I, a Canadian, learned a valuable lesson passing through one of these near Salton Sea: be white, look like a conformist. You won't even have to roll the window down.
posted by klanawa at 5:29 PM on January 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


What if foreign emigres could submit a small-business prospectus at the border, which might allow them the status to form such a business?

This is part of the point of the E visas (trade and investment), although they're handled through the US embassies and consulates, which are where you get visas for entering the US. /pedantic

I skimmed the first paragraph of the article and bookmarked it to read later when I'm in a better mood. One of the things I really hoped for when they broke the INS into enforcement and benefits departments was that we'd stop treating people who want to come into the US like liars and thieves and more like we treat our fellow Americans. Nowadays we treat them (and us) like terrorists instead. Be careful what you wish for; you might get it.
posted by immlass at 5:30 PM on January 11, 2011


That ACLU map is inaccurate -- Lake Michigan is not a US coast, so all that shoreline area shouldn't be included. Chicago, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids are not within 100 miles of the border.
posted by aaronetc at 5:30 PM on January 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sometimes, I get the feeling that people who are most concerned about illegal immigration aren't too stoked about legal immigration either.
posted by mhum at 5:35 PM on January 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


That ACLU map is inaccurate -- Lake Michigan is not a US coast, so all that shoreline area shouldn't be included. Chicago, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids are not within 100 miles of the border.

Notes! I have no doubt that Customs and Border Protection will not inadvertently overstep their bounds.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:36 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


But you "look American" (white), right?

I'm pretty confident that's the deciding factor. When I was a kid, my family went to Canada fairly frequently and we always took passports because my mother was scared of not being let back into the country. Then, in high school, we were on vacation and took a day trip to Mexico without passports (making me terribly nervous). What did we need to get back into the US? We had to say we lived in Chicago. We weren't even asked if we were citizens and you'd have to be an idiot to assume my mother is a US citizen. But apparently you needed only to be a white English-speaker.
posted by hoyland at 5:38 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're headed for a demographic disaster on par with Japan

No, not even close. Actually the opposite of what you said.
posted by Justinian at 5:45 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


First they came for the KinderSurprises and I said nothing.
posted by isopraxis at 5:55 PM on January 11, 2011 [18 favorites]


Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 287(g).

Local police get sworn in as ICE agents. Goodbye, fourth amendment!*

*Until somebody sues and this goes to the SCOTUS, who will almost certainly rule that this is unconstitutional, since:
a) Such discretion-free checkpoints do not serve an immediate public need (as opposed to sobriety checkpoints, which do) that cannot already served by another means, i.e. traditional border procedures.
b) ICE's exemption from the 4th Amendment applies only at borders and ports of entry, which this is not.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:04 PM on January 11, 2011


me & my monkey wrote: "I've never been stopped for my papers there."

I don't live anywhere near a border and I'm white as a sheet, yet I've managed to have my citizenship status inquired about while traveling in Arizona. I've also been questioned regarding agricultural products when passing through California.

Luckily my mood was not so foul at the time as to cause me to quote Dick Cheney. I strongly suspect I would find myself guilty of "contempt of cop" should I ever be awoken by a CBP agent while sleeping on a train.
posted by wierdo at 6:17 PM on January 11, 2011


Sys Rq,

Why would you assume the Supreme Court would rule any particular way?
posted by effugas at 6:20 PM on January 11, 2011


But you "look American" (white), right?

I'm pretty confident that's the deciding factor.


Well, not always. White me travelling with my white mother, we usually go through with no problems whatsoever. White me travelling alone tends to get no end of grief from the crossing guard.

I tend to take my vacations by road trip now, generally wanting to avoid the mess of airline travel. But single white dude travelling on his own to see fruity stuff like art museums and historical sites must set off some kind of alarm bells, as I get grilled each time which I never do when I'm with someone else. Last time, I was questioned at considerable length about the electric kettle I had in the back of the car (I cannot do without my morning cuppa in my motel room), as though it represented dangerous contraband, or signalled that I was planning to move to the U.S., and didn't know if they had electric kettles there, too.

And yes, I know that the subject matter of those questions is pretty much irrelevant, as they're just testing your response to a pressure situation, and yes I know that to be fair to everyone, we all have to have our turn being bent over, and yes I know that they're just doing their job -- but for fuckssakes, all I want to do is visit your beautiful country and spend lots of money there. Is that not what we both want? Can't we just keep things easy to get what we both want?


So yeah. Agreed that it's always a crapshoot. You never know. But I will readily admit that whenever I cross back over from the States, it's always with a little sigh of relief.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:20 PM on January 11, 2011


You do realize that many of us who live outside the US consider that it is a Police State?
posted by adamvasco at 6:23 PM on January 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


I live right across the lake from Rochester, NY, in a lakeshore town at the exact midpoint between two rather large and vital and close nuclear power stations, which are also right down here on the lakeshore, and I can't even imagine this kind of paranoid shit ever happening here in a million years.

I know that sounds like I'm bragging, but mostly I'm just a bit WTF about my neighbours to the south. What are they looking to find? Do they have a tip that Osama's going to be taking the Greyhound to Bangor? It's all just a bit ridiculous.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:27 PM on January 11, 2011


Why would you assume the Supreme Court would rule any particular way?

In this particular case, it's because it seems like a no-brainer.

(That said, IANAL, so I'm probably missing some giant spanner in the works.)
posted by Sys Rq at 6:32 PM on January 11, 2011


I was never really very freaked out by the border station on I-5 until they put up the high fences and these signs.

It really drives home how horrifying our immigration policies are.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:36 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am also reminded of travelling behind the Iron Curtain in the '80s every time I travel to the US.

Except the East German border guards were more polite (if you were Canadian or Englsh, anyway -- Americans got a hard time).

Like Sys Rq I'm completely bemused by the way this has all been accepted by the US population.

But as I always point out, the whole DHS and post-9/11 security theatre thing has a hidden motive, which is that it's a way of pumping tax/borrow-and-spend money into the US economy without having to do anything socialist like build schools or implement socialized healthcare. It's been a huge make-work program, just like the two wars. Without it the US economy would probably have collapsed about five years ago.
posted by unSane at 6:39 PM on January 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Growing up in southern NM, we'd drive through these all the time.

So here's the thing. In southern New Mexico the border patrol is probably going to catch at least one or two illegal immigrants from Mexico with all that effort. There are, allegedly, a lot of illegal immigrants in the US who are Mexican nationals.

The difference, if it matters and I don't think it does, is that not one of the people described in the article who was found within 100 miles of the Canadian border was Canadian. They seem to be using the Canadian border as a pretense to arrest people from Pakistan, India and China.

So if that's OK, why not have these guys everywhere as I'm pretty sure people from Pakistan, India and China don't particularly cluster along the US-Canada border.
posted by GuyZero at 6:46 PM on January 11, 2011


First of all calling anything within 100 miles "the border" is bull shit. Change the law, I don't care how hard it is, but change the law. Fight for it. The border guards can handle things at (ie within 1000') the border and the local police can handle everything else. simple.

And why does crossing a border have to be such a crap shoot and so arbitrary? If you are a citizen of the country there should be simple, straight forward procedures which are fast and treat you with dignity at all times. You are a citizen...That's the whole point of being a citizen.

And for the people with visas who then are in the process of applying for green cards, etc. The whole system is broken. There should be no in-between grey zone, there should be no different agencies interpreting things differently, there should never be 3 weeks to ID anyone (especially someone you made fill out a pile of paperwork before they came to your country). They should have a very defined status. Get rid of all the grey zones and arbitrary this and that and a lot of this ridiculousness would go away.

Whining about the neighbours...
posted by sety at 6:56 PM on January 11, 2011


In all fairness, these interior border checkpoints are not new. They've been in place in NM as long as I can remember, which is at least 40 years.

In southern New Mexico the border patrol is probably going to catch at least one or two illegal immigrants from Mexico with all that effort. There are, allegedly, a lot of illegal immigrants in the US who are Mexican nationals.

Nah, not really. It's mostly theater. There are backroads and such one can take to avoid the highways and interstates. Many of them have little border checkpoint setups on them, but the last time I was tooling around the backroads of NM (admittedly well over a decade ago) most of them were not manned at all during the day.

Now, that new checkpoint on US70 near White Sands, maybe that is a sign that they've closed some of these gaps. But it was kind of a joke with me and my friends, the way things were set up back then, because we knew how easy it would be to get from El Paso to Albuquerque if you had a good backroads atlas.
posted by hippybear at 7:01 PM on January 11, 2011


I ride Amtrak from Austin to Dallas often enough. Love it, It's great, But, I have seen ICE getting off the train when it arrives. The route originates in San Antonio and ends in Chicago. It conjures images of Nazi Germany. Bad Images!
posted by Pecantree at 7:03 PM on January 11, 2011


So, it's a lot like driving North on the I-5 from San Diego.

When it is busy (most of the time) they don't even bother on the 5. The one on the 8 between Tecate Pass and El Cajon is usually staffed 24/7.

The other weird CBP thing is on the 5 south right at the border to make sure people aren't smuggling guns and money out of the US. But they only do that during none busy periods.

So if you're doing something like being undocumented and need to go from San Diego to Phoenix take the 15 to the 10. The 8 has lots of checkpoints all the time. If you need to get to LA go during middday and they'll not bother you. Of if unsure, just take the 15. And if your going to Mexico with contraband don't do it in the middle of the night.

But you "look American" (white), right?

I took a bus from Austin to Monterrey, MX once and there was CPB at the bus terminal in San Antonio checking papeles from everyone but the gringo which was me. Coming back from that trip, I skipped the long line at the border geting into the US and walked over and took a bus from Laredo,TX back to Austin. Every brown person was checked for permission and random people's bags were checked. I didn't have a problem. At about 20 miles from the border, there's a checkpoint for all traffic. The buses are herder over to the side and checked. Considering we had just been checked 20 minutes earlier, the bus didn't make any stops, and the luggage storage had seals from Customs, we had to do it again. And by we, I mean the brown people. Even though their colleagues 20 miles away had cleared the passengers, they took the passports (blue US ones meaning they were American) of two people to check out. We had to wait until they checked it out and we passed.

I now live in San Diego and go to Mexico all the time. Most people there are latino -- Mexican, Mexican-American, other latino -- and very few güeros, chinos* and negros**. The people that get the most hassle are people that "look middle eastern." Mexicans with their permisos sail through like white, black and asian (unless they look middle eastern). Mexican-Americans -- citizens and permanent residents get scrutiny just behind the what GW Bush referred to as "al-qaeda types". When it is busy, they don't even scan my passport card, and I noticed they usually don't bother scanning Mexican nationals with Laser Visa (Border Crossing Cards) either. Even though for over a year Americans returning over land crossing were required to have their passport or passport card, it wasn't November 2010 that people w/o proper docs get their own line and extra scrutiny. If you don't have your WHTI approved ID and look "American" your driver's license will do and they'll say next time bring your passport. If you're brown, you they make goddamn sure you have a legal right to be in the country by doing everything short of calling your mom.

I realize border control is important, but they way people are profiled like I've witnessed isn't fair. Then again, if everyone was treated equally the delay would be days. Or more optimistically, bad guys -- regardless of pigment in their skin -- are scrutinized and abuelitas and people with proper docs and not on watch lists can pass. This is why I was against SB1070 in AZ. Illegal Swedes and Canucks would never get bothered. But legal and bonafide citizens that "looked Mexican" would.

* I found many Mexican call anyone Asian a "chino". I've even heard someone called "a chino de japón" which is a Chinese from Japan.
** I said negros which is Spanish for black. I'm not my grandma stuck in 40s nomenclature.
posted by birdherder at 7:09 PM on January 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think I may have been through one of these checkpoints. I'm a white Canadian who is a permanent resident in the US. At the time I lived in New Hampshire, and was driving around Vermont with my parents who were visiting for a few days. My parents were carrying their passports and I was carrying my permanent resident card, so there was no problem, but it was pretty strange being stopped on a random highway and asked for our papers.
posted by joannemerriam at 7:16 PM on January 11, 2011


The thing has its own momentum. I don't think there's any going back, for America.

I lived in Central Europe during the post-communist decade and it was always very easy to tell the dynamic states from the ones you just knew you'd still be reading about decades later for the usual reasons of war, ethnic troubles, corruption, economic hardship, etc.

Countries like the Czech Republic and Hungary adapted really quickly to the open borders/Western Europe ideal, while countries like Serbia and Slovakia and Ukraine seemed to be stuck in the 1960s police state paranoia. I'm talking purely about the experience of riding trains or going through airports or just strolling around without purpose. In the countries that are still screwed up, just getting around was a real pain for the foreigner or anyone who doesn't look exactly like the stereotypical local.

At a time when we're squandering what remains of our resources on weirdly pointless exercises in Iraq and Afghanistan, and no serious political leader is even allowed to talk about gun control, and we've got 17% real unemployment, and the population is rapidly aging and unprepared for the early retirement that's already here for a lot of them, the actual priorities in this country are terrifyingly stupid.
posted by kenlayne at 7:30 PM on January 11, 2011 [14 favorites]


They regularly board domestic Amtrak trains passing through the area en route from Chicago to New York, where they shine flashlights in sleeping passengers' faces.

So now I have to tell them that I'm a US citizen and, likely, prove it via some official 'papers' just so I can take a train to New York. These people now traveling through trains, shining lights in peoples faces, and demanding "Your papers" and if you tell them to leave you alone, because you need not show them anything, as you have, like, The Bill of Rights and stuff to cover you against being harassed for no reason, you will absolutely be given fifteen different kinds of BS, absolutely harassed, damn good chance of being arrested. Great. We knew it was coming to trains, and buses. Now we know it's here.

How long before you have to be xrayed to board a train? A bus? We know that at least some governmental agencies now have access to -- and maybe already loosed them on the streets already? -- those sweet, traveling xray machines that sit inside of a van and xray your ass inside your vehicle as you drive down the road. I'm sure happy about that.

"Naturally our first concern is with terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, but we're an all-threats agency, so it can be related to narcotics trafficking and all kinds of law enforcement."

Ah yes, the biggest lie of all -- we're doing it "to protect you poor innocents from drugs and shit!" so now we're supposed to sit back and be all happy.

This place is tanking.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:32 PM on January 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


Whatever you do, don't confuse foreigners with humans.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:37 PM on January 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


You must show your immigration papers if requested, but you have the right to remain silent and to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, regardless of your immigration or citizenship status. The ACLU bust card (direct PDF) has this and other information on your rights when interacting with police or immigration agents.
posted by mnemonic at 7:39 PM on January 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


This reminds of my student days in Israel. There us foreign students were warned to carry our passports everywhere, since we could be asked to show our papers by any random security type person.
posted by dhruva at 7:41 PM on January 11, 2011


Has the border patrol EVER asserted the 100 mile rule from the sea coasts?
posted by smackfu at 7:46 PM on January 11, 2011


I think I may have been through one of these checkpoints. I'm a white Canadian who is a permanent resident in the US. At the time I lived in New Hampshire, and was driving around Vermont with my parents who were visiting for a few days. My parents were carrying their passports and I was carrying my permanent resident card, so there was no problem, but it was pretty strange being stopped on a random highway and asked for our papers.
posted by joannemerriam at 7:16 PM on January 11


It must be harder work for the agents in the north, because those sneaky Canadians are almost indistinguishable from real Americans.

I say this because the interior checkpoints on I10 in AZ/NM/TX and I8 in AZ/CA they always waive me through. I mean, I don't even have to roll down my window. At least on I35 in Texas, they'd ask me "you a citizen?" which I found funny since we're all citizens of somewhere.

They also do a lot of photography of car's license plates in South Texas going both ways. So when you're at the front they know who you are and will ask "this yer car?"
posted by birdherder at 7:47 PM on January 11, 2011


explosion wrote: According to the laws that dictate the legality of these searches, the "border" is also defined by the border on international waters. They could be doing this in Boston, New York, or LA, if they want.

Sure! I agree that it is a terrible, terrible thing. I was just commenting on the fact that the article's title is "Far From Border..." when it's really not far at all. It's an interesting bit o' culture that "an hour's drive" is "far", and I wonder how common that is. I have to drive a half an hour from where I am to get most anywhere, forty-five minutes to an hour depending on if there's extra traffic, and that seems pretty common for urban America. 75 miles on foot, or a horse? Sure. But we've got trains, planes, and automobiles now, y'know?
posted by curious nu at 7:51 PM on January 11, 2011


We're headed for a demographic disaster on par with Japan

Yeah, we aren't Egypt or Iran, but we're way better off than Japan or Europe, largely because we do let in a proportionately larger amount of immigrants.
posted by snofoam at 8:03 PM on January 11, 2011


> I was just commenting on the fact that the article's title is "Far From Border..." when it's really not far at all.

Really? In most countries, the border patrol only has authority within a few feet of the border, not 100 miles!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:10 PM on January 11, 2011


OK. So. What do we do?
posted by regicide is good for you at 8:10 PM on January 11, 2011


Sorry. We are just pretty used to it down here.

Checkpoints of this sourt within 100 miles of the Mexican border can at least be argued as a valid measure. Not saying I agree with them, but it is at least something that is defensible in terms of logic and quotinig statistics of smuggling and sneaking into country. But just because people in San Diego are used to it doesn't mean it is not outrageous and utterly stupid to do it in freakin' Rochester NY. I mean traditionally before 9/11 the border between the US & Canada was like the border between Norway and Sweden. Two large wealthy countries with similar cultures. Mexico, being much poorer probably does have a lot more immigrants and smuggling being snuck in.

There are towns split between the US & Canada, There is a * library* that is half in Vermont and half in Quebec. What's the DHS gonna do now, have checkpoints by the card catalogues? See who checks out books in French? Go through a student's bookbag if he steps from the Canadian border to the help desk on the US side?

Janet Napolitano is on record as saying she wants to give those northerners in Maine, New York State, Vermont, Minnesota, etc., a taste of what Arizonans go through on the southern border, no matter how much of a waste of resources that is.

But sheeple that we've become, we'll just have it the new normal and well, we'll soon have to carry internal passports and go through identity checks when transferring from the IRT to the IND lines in New York.
posted by xetere at 8:13 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


...but I've never been stopped for my papers there.

But you "look American" (white), right?


...we will also accept "look American" (black), as an answer.

(can't help but laugh to see that happen. Juan Williams, I'm lookin' at you...)
posted by djrock3k at 8:26 PM on January 11, 2011


Sometimes, I get the feeling that people who are most concerned about illegal immigration aren't too stoked about legal immigration either.

You think?
posted by steambadger at 8:34 PM on January 11, 2011


OK. So. What do we do?

Stop being so scared?

Shit's gonna blow up and the chances are you're not going to be near it.
If you are, unlucky!
You just won the bad lottery.
posted by fullerine at 8:56 PM on January 11, 2011


Sometimes, I get the feeling that people who are most concerned about illegal immigration aren't too stoked about legal immigration either.

Maybe for some people, your hunch holds true. For others, it certainly doesn't.

This article really riled me. No one should not be stopped without cause, 80 miles from the border, and asked to prove his or her citizenship. Difficult to believe this hasn't been challenged in court; hope it will be soon.
posted by artemisia at 8:58 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I was just commenting on the fact that the article's title is "Far From Border..." when it's really not far at all.

Really? In most countries, the border patrol only has authority within a few feet of the border, not 100 miles!


Well America is number one. USA USA USA. Then again every other country except the US would use the metric system 100 miles = 100 meters, right? All I know was after being taught the metric system was coming and being tested on it, they changed their minds because of communism or something. USA USA USA
posted by birdherder at 9:21 PM on January 11, 2011


Lake Michigan is not a US coast, so all that shoreline area shouldn't be included.

lake michigan is not a separate body of water from lake huron, so it would be in fact, a US coast

i've never heard of immigration checkpoints in michigan and i never want to - i'm damned if i'm going to start carrying around a copy of my birth certificate just to go around town - or down the road a bit
posted by pyramid termite at 9:29 PM on January 11, 2011


In a police state they ask the citizens for 'their papers.' That is very different.
posted by astrobiophysican at 10:21 PM on January 11, 2011


And also - stop whining about border controls and start stomping for a United States of All Americas. Then you might have a path (or at least a next step) towards the only coherent alternative to enforcing the laws of an out dated state structure. Go long or grow up.
posted by astrobiophysican at 10:27 PM on January 11, 2011


Oh, come on. Stop "whining" about new and pernicious instruments of social control to instead whine about a completely impossible global assault on the concept of the nation-state? Are you a college debater?
posted by norm at 10:35 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


astrobiophysican: "In a police state they ask the citizens for 'their papers.' That is very different."

Nope, they're doing it bass ackwards but they're doing it -- if Melvin (yeah, Melvin, that guy, the idiot who couldn't get on down at the local cop shop so is now a big bad border patrol guy) if Melvin wants to determine that you're not a furrener he'll ask for documentation to prove that you are not, so though you're technically not supposed to have to show it, he'll insist that he needs to see your paperwork to make sure he didn't need to see it.

Or he'll tell you that he needs to see it, maybe get all forceful, and look gaseous and fussy, to scare you out of exercising your rights, and if you balk, if you don't play ball, if you do what mnemonic suggested above and exercise your right to remain silent and your right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, hey, maybe they can't make you talk to them and/or allow them to search you or your belongings, but I'd bet that you're going to get off the train at the next stop and spend some time waiting, same as the woman was harassed in that airport late last year, not allowed to get to her flight.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:53 PM on January 11, 2011


You must show your immigration papers if requested, but you have the right to remain silent and to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, regardless of your immigration or citizenship status. The ACLU bust card (direct PDF) has this and other information on your rights when interacting with police or immigration agents.

Well, now, be careful here. The ACLU site linked says you can walk away if you are not under arrest, which is not always true. If you are pulled over for a speeding ticket, you are not under arrest, but you are not free to leave, either. Trying to walk away when you are being detained is a recipe for trouble.

You can also be searched for weapons without consent in a Terry stop scenario.
posted by Menthol at 11:00 PM on January 11, 2011


IANAL, but I looked into this recently, and there is some Supreme Court precedent for this type of stop (1 2 3). The Court has upheld routine stops at checkpoints, as well as roaming stops based on reasonable suspicion, near the U.S.–Mexico border. The last ruling has some language about Canada that would imply the same is true of that border.

I find it hard to believe that stops nowhere near an actual border with a foreign country would hold up. As far as I've seen, the Border Patrol hasn't tried stopping people along the Atlantic or Pacific Coasts, so the ACLU's map may be a bit alarmist.

<rant>
That said, U.S.–Canada border policy is schizophrenic. Coming from Sidney BC to Anacortes WA by ferry, via the San Juans? "Where did you board?" "Friday Harbor." "Have a nice day." Not even asked for documentation. At the Peace Arch? Wait in line for an hour to be berated about whether you signed your passport, or handed over your NEXUS card with your passport instead of just one or the other, then let through after ten minutes of harassment.

Seems like the worst of both worlds: painful border crossings discourage people from visiting, and yet any security benefit is negated by the weak link. To think this is the most important trade relationship in the world, and yet the border policy has no apparent relationship to any national interest.

Can't they improve the actual border before extending it inward?
</rant>

posted by neal at 12:27 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


artemisia: "No one should not be stopped without cause, 80 miles from the border, and asked to prove his or her citizenship."

Fascist.
posted by brokkr at 1:07 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry. We are just pretty used to it down here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you our newest guest, How It Happens.
posted by Pope Guilty


...but I've never been stopped for my papers there.

But you "look American" (white), right?
posted by phliar


Jumping in to support SLC Mom. What she means by us being used to it, is that the border checkpoint between San Diego and Los Angeles has been here forever. It was there when I was a small child. Its not like it appeared 5 years ago and we all failed to notice. Our parents/grandparents allowed it to happen.

Really, its something everyone in the US should have been aware of had they bothered to look into it long before it appeared in their own backyard.

I come from a Mexican family who has crossed that checkpoint thousands of times. We have never been stopped. I dont know anyone in my extended Mexican family who has been stopped. Sorry but I am a bit tired of this free pass in all situations to claim white people don't understand.

When you go through they seem to be looking for something very specific. I dont know what it is. They may be working on reports from the border of vehicles which may be doing something suspicious. I don't know.
posted by vacapinta at 1:31 AM on January 12, 2011


What allows this to happen is the Border Patrol saying they're working from "intelligence". You can't argue with that from a position of being an average US citizen. You simply aren't allowed access to that information to prove them wrong.

However, in a checks-and-balances situation, there's always someone to call their bluff. So the question and the answer to this problem is, who's keeping the US Border Patrol in check?

woo-ha
posted by lemuring at 2:01 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the ingenious win-win strategy of deliberately destroying everything worth winning so you nobody wants to compete with you for what no longer exists!
posted by srboisvert at 3:52 AM on January 12, 2011


There seem to be two issues here, border patrols that have little to do with actual border crossings and are just immigrant paper checks, and border patrol people being complete jackasses. The former is certainly an overreaction to terrorism threats that might take significant changes in the political climate to deal with, but the latter part is the issue to me. Immigration law can be very complex, especially for academics who often have odd statuses and it seems to me that a lot of these agents apparently are not trained how to handle them. It seems to me that a lot of them treat "Your status is too complicated for me to understand" as "You are doing something wrong." It would be very interesting to be able to peer inside the culture of the border patrol to see where this comes from and why locking detaining people who have totally legit papers for hours or days isn't seen as a royal fuck-up professionally.
posted by Schismatic at 4:01 AM on January 12, 2011


Incredible how placidly Americans have accepted such jack-booted thuggery. Applied elsewhere, people would be rioting in the streets. One would be hard-pressed to find any place in England that is more than 100 miles from a "border or seacoast" for example.

Lolwut?

Here in The Netherlands the police set up regular road blocks, where they block all entry and exit into an area of the city, either by car, foot, bike, public transport, etc.

Everyone is stopped and searched for weapons/drugs/whatnot.

Apparently they catch a lot of weapons, like from chef cooks, on their way to work. They often have whole bags full of knifes in the trunk of their cars! Good thing they keep those guys off the streets! I feel safer already!

A recent poll showed 75% of all residents of Amsterdam support this activity and want the police to expand it. Yeah, sounds like a riot allright...
posted by Djinh at 4:33 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd ask that any NY mefites that read the article and are cheesed off write their senators. It might be farting in the wind, but maybe Chuck or Gillibrand will actually take notice and bring the smack down on that Rochester station that seems to be the source of so much grief.
posted by ursus_comiter at 4:52 AM on January 12, 2011


One would be hard-pressed to find any place in England that is more than 100 miles from a "border or seacoast" for example.

I wonder how it works in France, where immigrants really can come ashore from the sea.

And a lot of this wouldn't even apply in many countries, if they don't have a strict separation between border patrols and national police.
posted by smackfu at 6:15 AM on January 12, 2011


In upstate New York, it's a different story. For reasons that remain unclear, Customs and Border Protection has had an aggressive presence away from the immediate border, especially around the northern city of Potsdam or in central New York cities like Rochester and Syracuse, which are relatively far from the nearest border crossings.

Maybe things have changed since I was at SUNY Potsdam, but it was always locally understood that these were drug-related roadblocks. North Country, NY is a huge zone for drug (specifically Marijuana) smuggling coming from Canada.

AND if I remember correctly, Rochester always had a reputation of being one of those places that one could acquire any sort of chemical entertainment your little heart desired.

I think if they had bothered to actually interview people in the area they would have had clarification for these "reasons that remain unclear".

That said, I went to the Crane School of Music (mentioned in the article) and there were a good number of international students; we never had any visa/INS kerfuffles like that. It does sound like the Border Patrol has stepped up its crazy quotient in the last decade or so.
posted by aloiv2 at 6:17 AM on January 12, 2011


I'm completely bemused by the way this has all been accepted by the US population.
In the US, you can wrap all sorts of ugliness and thuggishness in some shiny, pretty 9/11 paper and people will pee themselves with glee and gratefully accept it. These tend to be the very same people who scream about socialism and fascism when you try to give them healthcare.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:22 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, it's a lot like driving North on the I-5 from San Diego.
actually, no. they just wanted to see my passport. F-1 was in there and they said thanks and let me drive on. this sounds much more intense.
posted by krautland at 7:34 AM on January 12, 2011


I find it hard to believe that stops nowhere near an actual border with a foreign country would hold up.

Really? The border exemption has been used to justify warrentless searches of boats on all waterways anywhere in the US navigable to the ocean (which, of course, is nearly all of them) — including waterways much further from an actual border than 100 miles — for a long time and that use has been explicitly upheld by the Supreme Court since US v. Villamonte-Marquez. And I don't think this particular court that we've got right now has been especially marked by a concern for the fourth amendment. I really don't hold out much hope that the court will stop this anytime soon.

I was on a train that was boarded by ICE agents outside Rochester and it was fucking scary.
posted by enn at 7:50 AM on January 12, 2011


Customs and Border Protection also maintains that it can set up roadblocks—it prefers the term "temporary permanent checkpoints" for legal reasons

That is some world-class doublespeak. Kudos, land of the free.
posted by modernnomad at 7:54 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


In a police state they ask the citizens for 'their papers.' That is very different.

Different from what?

Immigration officials detaining, deporting American citizens

U.S. citizens wrongly detained, deported by ICE

Citizens sue after detentions, immigration raids

They are "asking citizens for their papers." If those citizens don't have their paper with them, they can be detained and shipped off to undisclosed locations and denied access to attorneys or family. Please explain how this differs from a police state.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:36 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, there sure are a lot of people here talking out of their ass.

Asked to show your papers? Asked to prove your citizenship?

Goodness. None of you have EVER been through any of these border checkpoints, have you?

None of that happens. Ever. Not at the border checkpoints I've been through. And I've been through them literally hundreds of times.

Now, the situations mentioned in the article linked above. In fact, these border patrol checkpoints are being run very similarly to the way people in other threads have said they would like to see TSA checkpoints run -- with brief interviews, followed by more intensive interviews if the agent feels they have any reason not to believe the brief verbal answers given in response to their simple question, which is usually "Are you US Citizens?"

Often they don't even make you roll down your window, just slow down enough that they can make a visual assessment. This is true even when the driver or passengers are obviously non-white. I know, because I had a lot of hispanic friends in high school, and would go to concerts in Albuquerque with them routinely.

The agent takes a quick glance at your car while you pull up, and may signal for you to stop or wave you though. If you're stopped, you roll down your window, and he asks "Are you US Citizens?" He doesn't demand your "papers". If there is something about your demeanor or your car which makes him think you may be hiding something (whether that's a non-citizen in your midst or contraband in your car), he will ask you to pull over off to the side.

Once pulled off to the side, he will ask to see your driver's license. Not everyone in the car, just yours. During that time he will make another assessment about whether you were simply nervous about being asked the question (as many are, this being an unfamiliar situation for a good portion of those driving through these checkpoints), and if that's his judgement, he will send you on your way.

If you still show signs which arouse his suspicion, THEN the "fun" starts. He'll ask everyone to get out of the car, ask for IDs from everyone and send those inside for checks (just like a police officer will take your license to his car to radio it in), and then they'll start going through the car searching for contraband.

Now, again, this is basically the exact same process which people here on The Blue have said they want to see the TSA use, based on the kind of process used in Israeli airports. Trained agents who know what the signs of nervousness and having something to hide look like, and then escalating to more intensive interviews and searches if they are required.

Yeah, it's scary to be pulled over and have agents start searching your car. I've had it happen, more than once. And I've thought on at least one of those occasions that they saw this hippie with long hair and a beard and figured they might find a stash of pot or something. But once the search is over, they always apologize for the inconvenience and send the car on its way, even helping to reload the trunk if it was full of stuff and they emptied it as part of the search.

It's WAY less intrusive a search than anything I've experienced at an airport, even pre-9/11. They aren't putting everyone through metal detectors and x-raying everything in the car.

And while immigration law in the US may be a bit backwards at times, every country in the world (that I know of, I could be wrong) insists that non-citizens carry papers showing where they actually are from, and demands that they be shown if asked. I know I had to carry my passport and student ID on me at all times when I was an exchange student in Germany in the 1980s, and did have to show it at least twice to public transit police on subways in Hannover as they were sweeping through looking for schwartzfahrern (riding without a paid fare).

Now, should these be happening up to 100 miles inside our borders? Probably not. It's creepy and intrusive. But the 100 mile law was designed in order to permit cross-border commerce to take place with as little impediment as possible, as most who do cross-border business do so with customers who are within that 100 mile limit.

What does seem to be new is that these checkpoints are appearing at our NORTHERN border, and starting to impact New England. And is that what the outrage here is all about? That suddenly the "liberal enclave" of the country is having to go through the same (often minor) ordeal that has been going on in the Southwest for decades?

You have more people in that part of the country than the rest of it combined. Get off your collective ass and do something about it.

But don't go screaming about "papers, please" and "jack-booted thuggery" and whatnot. That's not what is happening to nearly EVERYONE who passes through these checkpoints. And those who are asked to show their papers, according to this article, are foreign students, who by law are required to be carrying them. And how many of them actually make it through because they are complying with the law? Well, of course, the article only talks about the ones who weren't complying or who were outlying cases with their immigration status being in transition. And it's a huge SUCK when people get caught in the wheels of bureaucracy, and I feel bad for those who did.

But wow, check your rhetoric and balance it with real world experience.
posted by hippybear at 8:45 AM on January 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Asked to show your papers? Asked to prove your citizenship?

Goodness. None of you have EVER been through any of these border checkpoints, have you?

None of that happens. Ever. Not at the border checkpoints I've been through. And I've been through them literally hundreds of times.


No. You are the one talking out your ass. The man in front of me on the Amtrak in upstate New York on the way to Rochester was asked to show his papers — specifically, if I am recalling correctly (it was sometime around 4am and I was only woken up by the sound of the ICE agents questioning people so my mental acuity was not at its best), his I-90. He began looking through his backpack for it, but didn't find it fast enough for the agents' liking — after about ten seconds he was hauled off the train and did not come back.
posted by enn at 9:10 AM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


What does seem to be new is that these checkpoints are appearing at our NORTHERN border, and starting to impact New England. And is that what the outrage here is all about? That suddenly the "liberal enclave" of the country is having to go through the same (often minor) ordeal that has been going on in the Southwest for decades?

Probably. But let me re-frame it a bit. A tactic used for decades in a large but sparsely populated area of the country near a border well known for smuggling people and drugs is now being used with apparent randomness in an area that 2/3 of the country's population lives in, apparently just to increase the total amount of contact between federal law enforcement personnel and the populace. It's not being employed there because of any increase in human trafficking or drug smuggling or terrorism, but based on the fear of those things.

But don't go screaming about "papers, please" and "jack-booted thuggery" and whatnot.

Surveillance, contact with law enforcement, justifying one's actions, carrying identification at all times. That's what's increasing on a yearly basis since 2001. I don't think my fears are unreasonable that the next steps are likely going to be RFID logging on interstates of driver's licenses and car tags, or warrantless tracking of cell phone pings, or checkpoints at all state borders. Surveillance cameras are already going up with great speed in metro areas. This is what is saving liberty and freedom?
posted by norm at 9:11 AM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


But wow, check your rhetoric and balance it with real world experience.

Did you read the article? Legal immigrants are being detained for no good reason. Your "experience" is not comprehensive at all.
posted by GuyZero at 9:14 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, but if he's searching for an I-90, he's not a citizen. He wasn't asked to prove his citizenship, he was asked to show that he was in the country legally. If despite your sleepy state he really was only given 10 seconds to find it, then the ICE agent was in the wrong. But were you asked to present papers to prove your citizenship?

Plus -- Amtrak car != border patrol checkpoint on a roadway, which is the situation about which I was speaking.
posted by hippybear at 9:15 AM on January 12, 2011


GuyZero: did you read my entire post? I note that legal immigrants are being detained, but usually because they weren't complying with the law or because they fell through the bureaucratic cracks. I don't condone legal immigrants being detained, but in all the cases outlined in the article linked in the FPP, there was reason. Maybe not valid, usually because dissemination of information takes time within something as unwieldy as the ICE and DHS. I feel for those people, but ultimately they were allowed to stay in the country.

For the record, I don't condone these searches. I just want a little real-world acknowledgement that the system, for most, is nothing more than a question being asked and then being sent on their way.
posted by hippybear at 9:19 AM on January 12, 2011


What does seem to be new is that these checkpoints are appearing at our NORTHERN border, and starting to impact New England. And is that what the outrage here is all about? That suddenly the "liberal enclave" of the country is having to go through the same (often minor) ordeal that has been going on in the Southwest for decades?

The problem is that the Northern border is far less a place where smuggling, contraband or illegal immigration is taking place, and more a place, where towns, and even buildings, (again I'll reference the library) are split. So the northern border just ain't like the Southern border and people from Arizona or New Mexico should just get over that instead if saying "big deal northerners."

Canusa street. the "border" is the middle of the street. Presumably DHS would like a person in the yellow house on the right to check in if he or she wants to borrow a cup of sugar from a person in the white house on the left.
posted by xetere at 9:22 AM on January 12, 2011


That's amazing. I suppose they eat ketchup chips on the right, and barbecue chips on the left.
posted by norm at 9:52 AM on January 12, 2011


xetere: if you have the impression that towns are not split along the southern border, then you have likely never heard of Nogales, AZ / Peñaloza, Sonora, or Puerto Palomas, NM, or Douglas, AZ / Agua Prieta, Sonora, or Laredo, TX, or any of the other towns which are split by the international border.

You may also want to read up on Prohibition, during which smuggling was VERY commonplace across the US / Canada border. In fact, most of the marijuana and heroin which ends up in the Pacific Northwest of the US comes across the Canadian border, right now, today. And I know more than a few Asian and Russian immigrants who came across that border illegally.

Ultimately, a couple of these comments have basically said "yes, as long as it's happening to only a FEW people who live FAR away from us, then it's okay, but NIMBY." And maybe that's the prevailing attitude, ugly as it is. But to pretend like all this is new....

Presumably DHS would like a person in the yellow house on the right to check in if he or she wants to borrow a cup of sugar from a person in the white house on the left.

I don't really believe you think this.
posted by hippybear at 10:22 AM on January 12, 2011


The border exemption has been used to justify warrentless searches of boats on all waterways anywhere in the US navigable to the ocean (which, of course, is nearly all of them) — including waterways much further from an actual border than 100 miles — for a long time and that use has been explicitly upheld by the Supreme Court since US v. Villamonte-Marquez.

Hm, that's an interesting case. It looks like customs officers are allowed to board to check a vessel's documentation, but there's nothing in the opinion about the search that followed, since the officers definitely had probable cause at that point. The Court draws a distinction between vehicles, which display a license plate, and vessels.

And I don't think this particular court that we've got right now has been especially marked by a concern for the fourth amendment.

Fair point. I was just looking at the tone of the opinions I linked, but it is the Court that you have that matters.
posted by neal at 10:56 AM on January 12, 2011


Hm, that's an interesting case. It looks like customs officers are allowed to board to check a vessel's documentation, but there's nothing in the opinion about the search that followed, since the officers definitely had probable cause at that point. The Court draws a distinction between vehicles, which display a license plate, and vessels.

In practice, I know for a fact that boats of all sizes are routinely searched by all kinds of law enforcement, including local law enforcement with no particular border-protection duties, and that they use the border-exemption-applies-on-waterways concept from Villamonte-Marquez as their justification for performing these searches without probable cause. It's certainly possible that they are misreading the court's opinion. I'd not be optimistic about the current court doing anything to stop them, though. You'll note that now-Justice Alito was representing the US in that case.
posted by enn at 11:05 AM on January 12, 2011


I know that sounds like I'm bragging, but mostly I'm just a bit WTF about my neighbours to the south.

I know, right? Here I was all huffy about how I was treated by Canadian border services 5 years back when I returned from a year and a half abroad. I still don't get why they grilled me about where I'm going to stay and who with etc when I've arrived in Canada as a Canadian citizen with a Canadian passport, but at least I don't get asked that randomly when driving down the highway.
posted by Hoopo at 11:22 AM on January 12, 2011


Well I'm an international PhD student from India studying at Cornell University so this issue affects me personally. It is really rather ridiculous to be expected to carry one's passport and I-20 when visiting Syracuse or Rochester and not intending to go anywhere near the US border. These are important documents and I'd be screwed if I lost them. It makes sense to keep them safely locked up at home. The International Students and Scholars' Office at Cornell has always advised us to keep these documents at home, carrying instead a State ID for proof of age for short trips to Syracuse or the like within the country. Now they're saying that we should carry both with us whenever we go within 100 miles of the border. I truly resent this. I was overjoyed, along with the rest of Ithaca, when Obama became President, hoping for a resurgence of liberal values in this country. A couple of years ago I thought that upon completing this PhD I would stay on for at least a few more years, doing a post-doc somewhere or getting valuable industry experience. Instead I feel that the political climate is becoming uglier and uglier and that the sooner I get out of this country the better. This is increasingly the attitude of most Indian graduate students that I talk to -- why stay in this country where we feel increasingly unwelcome, when the next decade in India could be so exciting?
posted by peacheater at 11:25 AM on January 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


Even when it was the bears, I always knew it was the immigants.
posted by dougrayrankin at 11:31 AM on January 12, 2011


This is increasingly the attitude of most Indian graduate students that I talk to -- why stay in this country where we feel increasingly unwelcome, when the next decade in India could be so exciting?

Because the pay and standard of living in the US will still be higher in all likelihood even with the higher cost of living.

But you're absolutely correct that the gap is closing every single day now. Vote with your feet. I personally know dozens of Chinese people who have. I know Indians who have. Once you finish you may do it too.

America is collectively choosing security over prosperity. I guess I don't blame them but you guys really ought to realize the implications of it.
posted by GuyZero at 11:57 AM on January 12, 2011


Once, going through the Border Control checkpoint south of town, about 100 miles from the Mexican border...

The next time, they tore the car apart looking for drugs. It's a crapshoot.


So hang on...a border control officer, 100 miles from the border to Mexico, was concerned you might be smuggling drugs into Mexico? Am I crazy or is that sort of thing supposed to be done by the Mexican authorities when you try to enter their country?
posted by Hoopo at 12:42 PM on January 12, 2011


In the US, you can wrap all sorts of ugliness and thuggishness in some shiny, pretty 9/11 paper and people will pee themselves with glee and gratefully accept it. These tend to be the very same people who scream about socialism and fascism when you try to give them healthcare.

That's upstate New York for you.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:26 PM on January 12, 2011


So hang on...a border control officer, 100 miles from the border to Mexico, was concerned you might be smuggling drugs into Mexico?

I'm pretty sure the writer was on his way AWAY from Mexico. In my experience, they only have these checkpoints set up on the side of the highways leading INTO the US.
posted by hippybear at 2:50 PM on January 12, 2011


For a little bit there in the early 2000s, Customs and Border Patrol officers regularly stopped and entered the 'Hound in Waterville, Maine to ask everyone if they were U.S. citizens, and ask for their papers if not. They took someone off the bus once. No idea what happened to the person. This was the bus going north, away from the rest of the country.
posted by eviemath at 3:15 PM on January 12, 2011


Well that makes more sense...weird that they double-dip on the border security like that though. Are they told ahead of time by agents at the actual border? Seems a bit mad for border agents to have the ability to harass anyone within 100 miles of the border--80% of Canadians live within 150 km of our border with the US for example, which is actually less than 100 miles and would include many of our major cities.
posted by Hoopo at 4:01 PM on January 12, 2011


It occurs to me that this would actually be a perfect opportunity to surreptitiously move the Canadian border 100 miles into American territory, if only to see how long it takes for the Yanks to notice.

Look out, Toledo! Here we come!
posted by Sys Rq at 4:08 PM on January 12, 2011


In the US, you can wrap all sorts of ugliness and thuggishness in some shiny, pretty 9/11 paper and people will pee themselves with glee and gratefully accept it. These tend to be the very same people who scream about socialism and fascism when you try to give them healthcare.
9.................11
posted by dougrayrankin at 5:49 PM on January 12, 2011


But the 100 mile law was designed in order to permit cross-border commerce to take place with as little impediment as possible, as most who do cross-border business do so with customers who are within that 100 mile limit.


By this logic, shouldn't Customs be forbidden to make intrusive searches within these hundred miles? If we want to encourage cross-border commerce, then let let's reduce the obstacles, not dramatically increase them.

I do have to say, that stopping an Amtrak en route to New York from Chicago is ludicrous. I experienced this, but they weren't trying to search me or any of my property, so I didn't have any reason to protest. In fact, I was outside the train smoking. This was in Buffalo, eastbound. I almost wish I was hassled, so I could give him the "no sir, I will not present my drivers' license. I am a citizen, I am not driving, and you have no reason to question me in connection to any crime. Good day."-business. Of course I would have been detained and molested and jailed, but I hold out hope that the ACLU would have defended me, and I would have become a national hero.

That said, this shouldn't be a fantasy, not in a country whose existence on this planet was ushered in with "...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that in order to secure these rights, governments are consituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed..." etc.
posted by LiteOpera at 7:08 PM on January 12, 2011


Wikileaks volunteer detained and searched (again) by US agents
posted by adamvasco at 7:56 AM on January 13, 2011


Wikileaks volunteer detained and searched (again) by US agents
I actually got quite angry reading that (as I did with that TSA video of the women detained over breastmilk), but I would put it to you that by and large, the incidents we see like this are more to do with powerhungry assholes in airports than evil empire policies from on high.
posted by dougrayrankin at 5:31 AM on January 14, 2011


What makes you think it is either/or? Evil empires and powerhungry assholes are one of the most perfect examples of symbiosis found in nature.
posted by unSane at 6:36 AM on January 14, 2011


What makes you think it is either/or? Evil empires and powerhungry assholes are one of the most perfect examples of symbiosis found in nature.
I encounter more assholes than evil people. I also find the whole idea of secret government, fat men sitting in the shadows smoking a cigar and stroking a white cat a bit... tin-foil hatty.
posted by dougrayrankin at 11:34 AM on January 14, 2011


The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for a few power-hungry assholes to be put in charge.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:45 PM on January 14, 2011


evil people

An evil empire does not require many evil people. And the secret government stuff you are just making up, but carry on.
posted by unSane at 6:43 PM on January 14, 2011


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