US Customs - ignore risks at own peril

There are 28 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by Rice.

  • Just a reminder that US bureaucrats, when not accountable, are no less willing to abuse their positions of power than are Arg ones.


    From The Intercept.

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  • That is a really frightening article. CBP agents, like IRS agents, apparently are allowed the power of life and death over citizens. When you are unlucky enough to encounter one who enjoys the power trip, he/she can make your life miserable.


    We are living in a particularly authoritarian governmental era. I hope it's not a one-way street.


    Thanks for this chilling reminder, ben.

  • When I think of all those crass things people say about the USA like, the land of the free, I cringe, especially when hearing stories like this.

    I've been in and out of Argentina and the UK probably 50 times or more in a decade and nothing like this has happened to me.

    I have however heard of similar happening to Argentine friends entering the USA and UK, but certainly not on this scale.

    Was he already on their radar?

  • A few follow-up points, in light of the subsequent remarks:


    1) The US has evolved in the last decades into a society where if you can’t sue it out of me, I don’t have to do it.

    There’s not much that can be sued out of CBP, so this is what happens.

    And there’s not much of a constituency that can demand that CBP be made sue-able, for obvious reasons.

    The outcry now taking place over the inhuman conditions to which children are being subjected, will serve to show if the US public is up to demanding basic human decency towards everyone from its government.


    2) There’s little reason to assume that this particular guy was on their radar. Occam’s razor applies: the obvious reasons for his treatment was that he was a:

    • journalist (strike 1)
    • covering Mexico (very likely a strike 2)
    • who challenged their authority. (this in of itself is already enough).
      As far as they’re concerned, he just about dared them into this. As someone who declines a full-body scan at US airports, I can attest to the “OK buddy, you asked for this” sentiment when you don’t follow the procedures they want you to follow.
    • Not only did he dare them into it, he seemed to be ill-prepared for the result. If he would have projected an air of nonchalance about it, shown himself to be on top of the procedure and that he knows what they can or can’t do, I’m guessing it would have gone much smoother.
      He appeared to be the smart-aleck who didn’t even seem to know how this would work. From their point of view, they simply accepted his invitation for them to educate him about how the system works.

    3) About the journalist thing, there is some evidence that there’s some guidance from on high that journalists are to be given “special” treatment.

    As appalling as it is, if you’re a journalist just about anywhere, and as we now know crossing the US border, you need to be educated as to what you can and can’t get away with.

    I do airline tickets, car rental, hotels, cruises, insurance, and all-inclusive packages.

    If you want great service and low prices, look no further.
    I also sell local SIM cards for several countries.
    ben@kanfeinesharim.com

  • I have observed entering as an alien in the USA, that is very convenient to choose a queue in the immigation procedure where is an anglosaxon or "white person" in charge. They are kind and ready to resolve any problem, and also friendly. The contrary is when there is another kind of person. They do not like to be friendly with a latin american like me . They intend to find some irregular thing in your papers. Perhaps they think that I intend to be an illegal visitor and compete with them in looking for a job.

  • I don't feel comfortable to comment publicly on the article in question, given it could be used against me one day.

    ----


    The other day I was reflecting on how we are vulnerable the most in our home country, as there is nobody else to call for help.

    My reflections was on having acquired Argentine citizenship and the desaparecidos.

    What if someone decides to hold something against me, now?


    I did pursue citizenship to not be separated from my husband ever, and to have the right to stay here indefinitely (in case of war, in case of my husband's death etc.). and never pondered the downsides. They looked the same the residency ones.

  • I presume that in this forum you are allowed to criticize anything of your recent acquired country citizenship, the same as me. Even better, critic, if done objectively, is welcomed. I am sure that we need a lot of changes in Argentina to become better.

  • You are a student of Maimonides or Duns Scotus, ben ? Occam’s Razor is not a common reference.


    The journalist in question presented a cocky visage to the all-powerful agents, who decided to show him who was boss. (I’m thinking of Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke) The agents undoubtedly felt empowered by the outrageous pronouncements of the current president, that the press is the “enemy of the people.”


    But his was a special case. This could easily be the fate of anyone picked out of the crowd for bullying. For those of us who remember the US as the Land of the Free, it is heartbreaking to realize that members of this forum do not feel free to express their opinions for fear of governmental repercussions under a repressive president.

  • Occam’s Razor is not a common reference.

    Really? I’d say that it’s common enough - the proof being that even I know it!

    I do airline tickets, car rental, hotels, cruises, insurance, and all-inclusive packages.

    If you want great service and low prices, look no further.
    I also sell local SIM cards for several countries.
    ben@kanfeinesharim.com

  • My only dodgy moment with border officials was when I was leaving the US to go back into Canada.

    I was on a cycle touring holiday alone and had come through the Canadian side of the Rockies. As the closest camp site was across the border in the US I entered without any problem.

    The next day was spent on the US side cycling further west to another small border post. That's when the US border official told me there was no note of me having entered the US. =O

    I explained it was only for one night to use a camp site...he scratched his head, asked me which part of the UK I was from and when I told him he said he thought he recognised my Scottish accent. ^^

  • [quote='Rice','https://www.argentinaexpats.org/forum/index.php?thread/1751-us-customs-ignore-risks-at-own-peril/&postID=11120#post11120']

    You are a student of Maimonides or Duns Scotus, ben ? Occam’s Razor is not a common reference.


    The journalist in question presented a cocky visage to the all-powerful agents, who decided to show him who was boss. (I’m thinking of Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke) The agents undoubtedly felt empowered by the outrageous pronouncements of the current president, that the press is the “enemy of the people.”


    But his was a special case. This could easily be the fate of anyone picked out of the crowd for bullying. For those of us who remember the US as the Land of the Free, it is heartbreaking to realize that members of this forum do not feel free to express their opinions for fear of governmental repercussions under a repressive president.

    [/quote]

    Ben’s wealth of knowledge spans across several disciplines - that we know! But we study Occam’s razor in high school, don’t you?


    Now, remembering what that means after all these years is another thing 😅
    Luckily we were given Wikipedia!




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  • There's plenty of reason to assume that Seth Harp - the journalist in question - was on their radar, especially since he's a journalist and the current US administration believes that they are the enemy of the people. Ergo, he's a target and a smart-aleck before he's even opened his mouth.

    Of course he challenged their authority; that's what journalists do, and I'd be surprised if he'd not been expecting this kind of treatment as he walked down the skyway from the plane at Austin, quite frankly. Some may see this as naive, but I would interpret his behaviour as cynical. After all, he did get to write a good story afterwards.

    Showing nonchalance in this day and age can also be interpreted as belligerence, so he was screwed either way.

    Now, grovelling is another matter. If he had doffed his cap and bowed and scraped in front of the official, he may have passed through without incident, but that would have been out of character. I believe he was ready for this and, his flowery report notwithstanding, he makes that pretty clear in the first paragraph or so. He was asked to divulge the story he had been investigating, which threw a switch in his head and he dug his heels in. That, in itself provoked the whole SS style interrogation.

    Reference to Occam's Razor in this context is therefore not appropriate, since by definition it means the simplest answer is often the best one. Answer to what, anyway?

    As an aside, it seems that Seth Harp, if indeed that is his real name, has a minuscule footprint on the Internet, using different photos on The Intercept and Rolling Stone. Neither does he appear to have a public Twitter or Facebook profile, which leads one to believe that he needs to hide behind a wall.

    "As to what you can and can't get away with..."?

    So, is refusing to divulge what you are reporting on, trying to get away with something? Yes it is, in a dictatorship.

  • I feel entirely comfortable expressing any opinion on this forum, otherwise we might as well pack up and go home. I would however stop short of inciting violence or extreme hatred, but that doesn't mean to say that we need to self-censor.

    As for citizenship, I would day that permanent residency with a DNI serves practically the same purpose.

  • I don't have a problem with sharing my opinions on this forum. Given the level of scrutiny at border crossing in the US, I don't think it is wise to be vocal about one own's positions on US politics or cross-border policy on the Internet. Especially if you are a foreigner.

  • Not in US high schools, where Philosophy isn't taught. At least not in mine. In what kind of class did you come across Duns Scotus, serafina ?

  • As an aside, it seems that the broad authority given to Customs and Border Patrol agents can generate abuse even in countries with friendly reputations. Friends of ours were treated deplorably by Canadian border agents and now scoff at the idea that Canadians are so nice. At least the border agents, in their experience. It’s a pity, but the first people travelers encounter can be the ones who leave the most lasting impressions.

  • I don't think there's a group outside the criminal class that I dislike more than border and customs agents. These are ordinary people with little actual power, but within their role they are absolute. I am not sure what goes on in their training that makes them become such assholes.


    I have had some interesting times with these people in UK airports.