I seem to have issues with crossing the USA/Canada border. It was just a short while ago my vehicle was refused entry to Canada. Friday morning I was again detained at the border – this time entering the States.
As you know I have borrowed a car from a friend, my neighbour Mr CarMan. I have a signed letter from him giving me permission to drive it into the States, I have the registration and insurance documents. All 100% above board and kosher.
I took the littlest prince to school on Friday morning and drove the 45 miles or so to the border on the way to go see my KoD for Shabbat. Luckily there was hardly any traffic and I made good time. There was one car in front of me as I pulled up to the border. It was 9 am.
The border guard takes my passport, asks me the usual questions. Then he asked me whose car I was driving. Now, I am sure some people would lie, but I can never remember my lies, so I don’t lie. It’s just so much safer that way. As soon as I said I was driving my friend’s car he started acting all suspicious. “Does he know you have his car? Why did he lend you his car?” The dude must have asked me ten times where I live and where I was going – like my answer is going to change?!
He walked around the van, opened the trunk, opened my suitcase and started going through my things. I felt violated. I know that he has a right to do so – anyone entering the states can be searched. He then directed me to drive over to the office building and park in spot number 2. There were 2 agents waiting there for me, and by the time we had entered the building I was surrounded by 5 agents. I guess they found skinny little me very threatening!
Now usually when I go into this building I use the immigration side – to fill in a form or what have you. It’s not scary just time consuming. This time they took me behind a high partition. And once again, it was training day at the border. And once again, they were learning on me. Nice. Which meant every question and answer was analyzed right in front of me.
They had me fill out a customs declaration form. As I was filling it out they asked me the same questions over and over and over again, the same way, phrased differently etc. I finally asked them what was going on. I just wanted to understand what they were worried about. I was told that they had the right to search me and my vehicle to ensure I wasn’t carrying anything into the States that I wasn’t supposed to. They made me empty my pockets, turn them inside out, they went through my purse, emptied it all out. Went through my stuff with a fine toothcomb. They asked how much money I had – I told them the truth – not very much. Then they asked if I was bringing in 10,000 dollars or more in cash or merchandise. No. Am I taking any articles for resale? No. Do I have any illegal drugs? No. Did I bring gifts? No (I’m a cheapskate lol). Who am I going to visit? Family. Which family? My husband. At this point I was worried that they would start making immigration noises – you know, like have you applied for residency etc. Nothing. Nada. Zip. They were not interested in that. Just if I was drug trafficking.
At this point I was shaking. I know I had done nothing wrong, but they make you feel guilty and just so violated. I guess finally they decided I was who I said I was, that I was not a threat to national security, and they allowed me to sit down. They made me turn off my PoisonBerry so I couldn’t even text my KoD for him to know I was detained. (Or for him to soothe me and comfort me and tell me it will all be ok). There was a young lad who was sitting there after being pulled off a bus that was on its way to Albany. They apparently didn’t like the allergy medication they found in his bag.
While I was sitting there they were ripping Mr CarMan’s van apart looking for who knows what. But of course I couldn’t see that. I had to just sit there staring into space and not appearing nervous. They finally asked me for the permission letter from Mr CarMan. They gave it a cursory glance and returned it. Gave me my papers and by 10 am I was back on the highway going south to see my husband. I stopped at the first rest stop to clean the car back up and to stop shaking. Finally I was able to calm down and drive the rest of the way to Monsey without incident, B”H.