Thursday, April 27, 2017

What can I do at the border?

I’m on the Quora list, for some reason, and I haven’t unsubscribed. Today I saw this question in my list: what can I do when treated in a rude manner by US immigration officers? I almost wrote an answer, but stopped. There are some good ones and no reason for me to respond.


I have had some experience here, both in the US and other countries. The worse experience was going to Ireland in the late 80s, with IRA troubles and me stupidly arriving half drunk, early in the morning, with a full, scraggly beard.

The second worst was February of this year, coming home to the US. I’ve related the story to a few close friends, and it was incredibly frustrating, humiliating, and shocking.

I had one friend apologize on behalf of the US. As a citizen, this person was appalled and saddened that I would get searched and asked if I was a US citizen by an officer that had my US passport in his hand.

There was no win for me at that time. Nothing I could do. Even asking for a supervisor or registering a complaint wouldn’t help. They have valid reasons to be concerned of anyone, no one directly said anything about the color of my skin, and they were polite. Even if they’d been less than polite, I had a tight connection and had to just remain calm and obedient through the experience to speed things along.

In many situations like this, there’s little you can do. If a law enforcement officer stops me, I have to live with the situation, obey, and keep calm. I also have to hope he/she doesn’t attack or physically abuse me. Again, I can’t win that battle. I might be able to record, and I am ready to turn on my cell phone video if I ever see a police officer. I won’t hold it or point it, but I’ll have it on.

At the border, that’s illegal. I can’t record, and in fact, I try to keep my phone out of my hand at any border.

It’s hard, I’m seething inside and I’m frustrated. In addition to all of the nonsense the US has experienced in the last year with our election, this was really one of the experiences that has me thinking about retiring outside the US.

I can’t believe that’s the case, and it’s the first time I’ve even considered that in my life. But I am. If the US continues to turn towards the direction quite a few of President Trump’s supporters want it to, I’ll really have to consider leaving.

Sad smile

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