I’m a journalist but didn't fully realize the terrible power of US border officials until they violated my rights and privacy
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- Seth Harp
- Jun 22 2019
- Word count
- 2981 words
I experienced this border zone on an Amtrak train in Florida, although I didn't understand until much later why border security would be on a train that wasn't crossing any borders.
They were asking everyone if they were a US citizen. When I said "no," I got asked for my passport and had a moment of blind panic—who takes their passport on a train ride inside a country? The woman then asked if I had a residency card, and I remembered that I'd started carrying mine (misdemeanor if you don't).
I'm white and speak English, but even with the protection that privilege provides, I froze. I can't begin to imagine how it feels for people who are profiled.
Taking this as a more general statement, it varies a lot country to country when traveling as a foreigner. Some require you to have the original on you at all times. Others are fine with a national photo identity card (something like a state driver license does not count). Others are ok with a color photocopy of the passport (often combined with some other form of photo ID). For foreigners within a country on longer-term visas (e.g. a work visa), there's usually some form of photo identification card related to the visa that is sufficient documentation to carry.
Yeah, that's totally true- but as a permanent resident, I had no reason to carry mine, and it was very disconcerting when that was the first thing she asked for.
That is seriously disturbing. The CBP is targeting people purely for political motives, not because of any security reasoning. And one of those motives is an attempt to destroy freedom of the press. How our country is not united in saying this is not ok is beyond me.
Also, CBP seriously needs to go through some PR training. Had they simply let this guy go, he would have just written the story about guacamole. But instead, due to one guy's inflated ego, they now have yet another horror story about how terrible CBP is. Nicely done.
I was facial-rec scanned on my way out of the country last month at Sea-Tac airport.
My litmus test for "does this country suck" has always been whether or not there is an exit visa requirement. The facial rec scan upon exit felt a bit like the USA is encroaching into this awful territory.
I recently went to New York and was genuinely shocked at the 'welcoming' atmosphere at the airport...
Having my fingerprint and face scanned on the way in and out is not my idea of a modern liberal welcoming country.
Plenty of other wonderful places in the world to check out instead in future.
Really powerful article - with an environment like that I have a hard time understanding why anyone would try to go in or out of the United States.
I wonder if that's the point. I had the same reaction too. Is there some "benefit" they're seeking by preventing international travel altogether? Or at least, severely hampering it?
The U.S. males so much money from trade an tourism that if this effect is intentional, its sure not very smart,
Yeah, tourism dollars are the most valuable you can get. It's people paying taxes and injecting tons of money into the economy, while asking for very little in return. They help fund municipal services like schools and fire departments without ever using them. That's why lots of local governments spend so much on tourism ads and attractions.