posted on Jul, 3 2009 @ 03:54 AM
I started this thread to let people share their experiences with the U.S Border Security guards.
Back in 2004 I was travelling around Canada with my girlfriend at the time (who is a Canadian). At my insistence we decided to travel into the US via
the Nighthawk Border Crossing, which is in British Colombia. During my previous brief stay in Hawaii, I had been fascinated actually being in a US
state for the first time in my life, especially after having been exposed to US culture for my entire life via TV, music and moves. We had planned to
travel into Washington and spend the day driving around basically being tourists. This is based on my recollection of events.
We were the only car at the crossing (mid afternoon on a Monday). After replying 'travel' to the reason why I entering U.S territory, two guards
motioned us into the secondary inspection area, which was a large shed. As I pulled in to where they told us to go, I had a bad feeling about the
situation. One of the guards was standing in front of the car as it slowed to a halt. Immediately, he put his hand on his holster and demanded
rather loudly for me to turn off the engine and for myself and my girlfriend to put our hands on the dashboard. We had followed directions to this
point. We had acted politely.
The second guard was next to the passenger side of our car and also adapted a very aggressive body language (hand on holster, other hand pointing at
us) We had complied immediately. Our hands were on the dashboard. This was the first time in my life (and by then I had spent a good 6 years
travelling throughout the world) that I had every felt threatened by any official. My girlfriend was also surprised and said something along the
lines of “What the hell...?” Before she could finish her sentence, the guard next to her drew his pistol and pointed it squarely at her face
through the window. “I said keep your hands on the dash!” he yelled. At this point I knew that something was very, very wrong. Keep in mind
that my girlfriend was a petite blonde Canadian. She was certainly no physical threat to anyone the size of the guard (who was an obese person).
Guard two walked next to my window (which was down) and asked for the keys. I complied. He then opened the car door and told me to get out of the
car. I asked what was going to happen. He replied that they were going to search the vehicle for drugs or weapons. I told them to go ahead.
We were both taken to a 'secure area' (a cell) and told to wait. Where else were we going to go? He then left to join his mate and proceeded to
search the car. We could not see anything, but could hear our belongings being thrown from the car.
Then came the interview. Obese guard took mine. He looked at my passport (New Zealand) and I could make out some lack of understanding on his part.
This is my recollection of the interview:
Guard: Are you a Canadian citizen?
Me: No, New Zealander.
Me: New Zealand
Guard: Is that in Canada?
Me: (quite perplexed) No, other side of the world. Next to Australia.
Guard: So you're from Australia?
Me: No. My country is closest to Australia. I am a New Zealand citizen. Part of the Commonwealth.
Guard: The what?
Me: The Commonwealth. The collection of countries that were formerly governed by the UK.
Guard: So you're English?
Me: No. I am a New Zealand citizen. South Pacific nation. Small country.
He sighed and put down my passport.
Me: So what's happening now?
Guard: We're going to confirm the details on your passport and then take it from there.
Me: What about my girlfriend?
Guard: She's a Canadian so she's go no trouble with us.
Me: But I have?
Guard: We'll see.
They took me back to the holding cell and told me to wait again. By this stage my girlfriend was a nervous wreak. I told her she was in no trouble,
and they're going after me for some reason. We waited. And waited. And waited.
Finally, seven hours later we were both told to come into the office again. They had confirmed my identity (which was clean). They had found no
drugs or weapons in the car. The had taken copies of my passport, return ticket and bank statements. They also had taken fingerprints and mugshots
I was told that although I had passed the tests, they still could not confirm that I was travelling into America with good intentions. Basically they
couldn't understand that I wanted to see the U.S
I was given two options:
I could accept a ten-year travel ban to the U.S on the grounds that my intentions could not be verified.
I could be held for a further three days while they investigated my story further.
I couldn't believe the story they were telling me, but one look at my girlfriend (who looked like she was about to have a nervous breakdown) and I
knew what I had to do.
I signed the paper and accepted a ten year ban to the U.S.
I thought it was over, but upon returning to our car, we saw what had happened during the 'search'. Our car seats were cut apart (I think by a
stanley knife) and our belongs were absolutely trashed. We were told to re-pack our car and return to the Canadian side of the border.
Upon arriving, the Canadians apologised for what we had gone thru (they had been notified in advance that we were being returned), gave me a Canadian
badge and said there was nothing they could do.
I left that border crossing with a completely different attitude then when I had entered. I do not hate the American people at all, but the guards at
that border crossing can rot in hell.
I was not a naive traveller. Although there were things I should had done differently, the options presented to us at that border crossing were
underwhelmed by possibly lethal force.
Although, there is a bright side to this experience. Since then I have become far more involved in civil rights and other topics that are featured
here on ATS.
I feel sad to say that the only time in my life that I have had a gun pulled on me was by an American.
Any other stories out there?