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Border Patrol In Montana

Open Letter to US Border Patrol (CBP)

23

Activism – Travis McCrea

Activism – Travis McCrea

Yesterday, I was held for two hours (not detained, we will get into that later) by CBP, under suspicion that my political party (Pirate Party) in Canada might be a violent extremist organization. When they gave me the keys to my car I was in such a hurry to get back home, that I forgot to get anyones names so I could send a card directly so instead I will have to just write an open letter, and hope it gets to the right people.

Dear Buffalo Border Patrol (@CBPBuffalo),

Hey guys, you may or may not remember me but as frequently as you hold me, I would be surprised if you didn’t. I am the guy who drives the car that one of your officers described as “gay”, which I assume he meant “fabulous” so I appreciate the compliment.

though after googing this image…

I am also the guy yesterday who you accused of being a terrorist.

I am getting ahead of myself though, now that you remember me I wanted to make a few apologies:

Sorry For Telling Stupid Jokes At The Initial Crossing

I come through the border a lot, and I always arrive with a smile ask how the officer is doing, and promptly hand over my keys when asked. This time, I thought I would try breaking the ice with a joke, so when handing over my keys I suggested “you guys keep searching my car and finding nothing, but have you considered that I might just be smuggling Fiats?”, to which you just stared at me.

I am not good at reading body language, so I figure you were just laughing on the inside but I was unable to see it in your eyes. Incase my joke offended you or made you think I was really smuggling Fiats – I am sorry. In hindsight the joke wasn’t all that funny, and perhaps next time I will come up with something better.

badjoke

Sorry That I Was Unable To Answer Questions

I didn’t want to be rude, I know that if you came to my house I would expect that you would answer basic questions that I would ask of you — nothing too personal or anything, just “tell me more about your political beliefs” and “is your political party a violent extremist organization”, just friendly conversation because “I am interested in the party personally, and just want to know more”. You expected me to be more forthcoming, and when I rudely didn’t answer your questions I could see you were getting upset at me.

I also should have been paying better attention to both officers who were asking me questions. When one told me he was done with me and that I should go sit back down, I should have known that by going to sit back down I would be acting suspicious to the second one who didn’t tell me to go anywhere.

I should point out that when I did answer questions, they always just lead to more questions and more questions. When I didn’t answer any questions I was able to go sit down, so I thought you were trying to subtly tell me you wanted less information. Again, I am not good at reading people so I am sorry for that.

silent

Sorry I Thought I Could Leave When You Said “You Are Not Being Detained”

When I asked you “am I being detained?” and you said “no”, I figured that I was free to leave. After all, my interpretation of the law is that I am either being detained or arrested, or that I am free to leave. This must be my own ignorance, because as I walked towards the door you told me if I took another step that I would be in handcuffs. Yikes.

underarrest

I wasn’t trying to cause a scene, though I am sure it looked that way. I just temporarily forgot that it is your belief that within border crossing, you have supreme law which supersedes all other civil liberties. My mistake.

Sorry About Offending You

When I was being questioned you asked if I was recording anything from my car and I told you that I was (because there was no sign outside anywhere which said I couldn’t).

nothingtohide

When I suggested that if you were doing nothing wrong, what did you have to hide… you got angry at me. You seemed to think that it was interfering with your search of my vehicle which is illegal. The last thing I want to do is interfere. The only reason I responded with that line, is that you have used it so frequently on me and I have heard it so often in the news… I thought it was an appropriate question to ask.

Sorry That I Started Coughing Uncontrollably

Remember that time when I was in my seat, coughing uncontrollably and you guys were just looking at me over the counter? Classic. Happens when I don’t have my inhaler. Luckily for me, I don’t have asthma just a really bad case of bronchitis, and after 5 minutes of hacking my lungs up in your detention secondary screening that I cannot leave from room, you asked if I was having a medical emergency…

coughing

You then took me out to my car to grab my inhaler, so obviously your officers deserve a big thank you for being concerned that I might die under their watch. To further this, later you asked me what narcotics I was on, and not if I was on any, so I am guessing you figured I was just smoking pot in the detention secondary screening area.

potsmoker

Sorry My Car Was A Mess

I have been searched crossing into the US every time I come through over the past 3 months, this totals over 8 inspections. I decided to leave the floorboard detaached from my trunk, since I figured you removed it last time — you might want to have easy access in the future.

Yesterday, however, my car was a mess — normally I like to keep my car super clean and sexy. Today I felt like you might be judging me. If you did judge me, I deserved it… it probably looked like a 12 year old’s room 3 days after Christmas.

dirty-room-o

Though you must have interpreted my messy car as some sort of weapon of mass destruction, because after searching it you accused me of being a terrorist. Next time, I will try to clean my car a little more.

Sorry You Mistook Me For A Terrorist

I will be honest, I have respect for what you think you are doing: protecting freedom. We might disagree on your effectiveness from time to time, but it’s the thought that counts, right? I was, however, surprised when you suggested I was a terrorist.

For starters, the fact that I and my girlfriend were the only two white people in holding for the two hours we were there makes me proud of your department for showing progressive values and applying affirmative action to your secondary searches. Even though ~75% of the population of America is white, we were equally represented (maybe even under represented) in comparison to hispanic and middle eastern / east asian people. While basically all of your officers were white males (some white females), the fact that you balance that out by detaining more minorities makes up for it.

whitepeople

I know that my car is messy, and that my political affiliation, being a prime concern of all border agents, does say “Pirate Party” and just like Al-Quida means “Terrorist Party” in arabic, you would be concerned that a criminal organization would just put their dastardly deeds right in the title of their organization. Perhaps we should be something less suspicious like “The Base Party”.

interrogation

One of your agents came up to me, and said that he didn’t want to violate my civil liberties and that if he could get a little cooperation it would be great because otherwise he has all this paperwork he has to fill out, and he has other parts of his job he enjoys way more than paperwork. Please make sure that he gets my apologies, I didn’t think to ask him what he prefers doing… I was being selfish and thinking only about myself.

Immediately after that the officer asked what my dads name is, what my moms name is, what her citizenship status was in America — and because I know he hated paperwork, I tried to be nice and cooperate. However, he then asked me again if my political party had any radical elements to it. I refused to answer the question and he got angry. I do hate making people angry and perhaps in different circumstances we could be friends, please ensure he knows he has an open invitation to have a beer with me.

I just had this strange urge to shut down every time it was suggested that I was a terrorist. It’s not you, it’s me. Clearly that is an abnormal reaction to the suggestion.

picarddrumhead

When you suggested if I don’t answer your questions that you would call the FBI, I actually got really excited. I have always thought the FBI looked really cool. As a guy who watches White Collar all the time, I was ready to have our conversation and didn’t mean to offend you when I encouraged you to call them. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to you anymore, just to live out my fantasy of an FBI interrogation.

Sorry That I Am Not A Terrorist

I was let down when after all the threats that you made about what you could do to me: lock me up, call the FBI, etc — after two hours you just gave me my keys and said I could go. I had even tucked in my shirt and gave my girlfriend her credit card that I was holding onto, just in case I was taken into custody and she wasn’t.

I will be sure to release my audio recordings, as I always do. That way everyone can see what an amazing job you are doing. Last time, I tried to show how manly your officers are by releasing an audio clip where a male officer said to a female officer that he might have to squeeze next to her, but he would “love every second of it”. If that doesn’t show just how masculine and awesome your agents are, I don’t know what will… but I will keep trying.

shrug

You keep bringing me in for secondary screening, and since you have no probable cause or legal justification for it — other than the mandate that pretty much says you can do whatever you want — I am going to guess that you just enjoy my company. So for that, I thank you. I am sorry that sometimes we have our disagreements, but clearly that doesn’t bother you too much, so I will keep being me.

<3 Thank You Border Patrol (CBP),

fantasticday

Travis McCrea

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About The Author: Travis McCrea

Travis is the 23 year old leader of the Pirate Party of Canada and owner of The Ultimate Ebook Library. Bitcoin Address: 1N4nQdD86mmHMWbRu9KZNz2TJsJu6viWJp

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Contributors take own responsibility for their comments.

23

  1. 1
    doiasfj

    Border guards go by a certain set of bizzaro land rules handed down to them in their training. It is far from a normal social situation. Because you’ve had problems in the past, it’s recorded in their system and they are seemingly obligated now to investigate you thoroughly every time. It’s a common pattern with everyone I know who’s had a problem.

    The greater record of not having any recorded crap about you as you cross the border, the less crap they give you. If you had a NEXUS program card for example, watch how their attitude magically changes for the better, since you have the status as a ‘trusted traveler’ now. A friend of mine forgot about their nexus card when they were crossing the border in the normal line (because one person in their car didn’t have it), and they remembered to bring it out later. The border guard’s attitude changed immediately and mentioned something about the ‘trusted’ status.

    Border guards are really bizzare to most people because they don’t know the training they go through and the threat model they have in their head. Once you learn what it is they make more sense and you can learn how to deal with them better.

    For example, it’s pretty universal rule worldwide that border crossing have a no recording, no photos, no cell phones or communication device policies.

  2. 2
    Caleb Lanik

    This was pretty brilliant, although the gifs didn’t seem totally necessary. Publish a link to the recordings? The current ones sound fun, and I’d be curious to listen to the previous as well.

  3. 3
    Joseph Yaworski

    I don’t travel very much. However, if I did, I’d want to respond to violations of my civil liberties in this way.

    Good work, Travis.

  4. 4
    Anonymous

    You lost me here.

  5. 5
    John Doe

    United States sounds like a fascist country day by day.

  6. 6
    Bertie

    Gee, what could have caused it? Gee could it have been something like this http://falkvinge.net/2011/12/12/travis-mccrea-is-a-terrorist/ calling yourself a terrorist?

    • 6.1
      Zacqary Adam Green

      Well, shit, I should write a post here saying that I’m the President of the United States. Maybe I’d get Secret Service protection just in case I’m telling the truth.

    • 6.2

      it could be the reason, but that would only mean that they put my name into Google and saw the word “terrorist” and then ran with it. That’s fine, they have a short amount of time to detain me and will work with what they have.

      That said, even a quick glance at the article will show that it is intended to show that anyone can be considered a terrorist, based on their beliefs.

  7. 7
    Anonymous

    not bad from officials who are supposed to be portrayers of ‘USA, Land of Freedom’

  8. 8
    Anonymous

    I loved the gifs! XD I’m going to have to copy you. (Though I didn’t get how a couple of them applied…)

  9. 9
    sam

    Travis, as a US citizen please allow me to thank you for taking the time to write about your border crossing experiences. You are obviously upset with your treatment and from the sounds of it, from the most recent generation of those that have a sense of self entitlement, delusions of grandeur, and zero work ethic. Probably uneducated too but it’s not worth discussing in your case, because if you are educated, it didn’t really do much. Other than to perhaps land you a job in which you’re lazy, overpaid, and an absolute nightmare to your boss. But that’s ok, that is understandable as you are a Canadian and that’s how most of you act. I also understand your frustration with dealing with an actual secure country and its border. We all know that Canada can’t really fend for themselves (certainly not your fault), in that you’re still a cross between America’s unwanted bastard 51st state and England’s bitch. However, let me remind you that no one from the United States knocked on your door and asked you to come here. We are 90% of your economy so please do not give me the line we’ve all heard about you spending your tourist dollars here. We don’t need your tourist dollars and in fact, would prefer that you just stay in Canada and leave the border crossing to adults. As everyone in the service industry knows, Canadians are horribly cheap, rude, obnoxious, and don’t even have the decency to tip when it’s appropriate. Do the United States a favor Travis, gather up all your like-minded buddies, and find somewhere in Canada to spend your free time. You ARE not wanted here.

    • 9.1
      Anonymous

      Wow. Just wow. Travis, a rebuttal?

    • 9.2

      As a /dual citizen/ of both the United States and Canada (and currently a US resident, traveling to the US on a US passport) the comment above is not only nationalist and ignorant of Canada and its vitality to the US economy, but also based on attacking one fact which was inaccurate. I see no further need to comment since I think the ignorance of the post speaks for itself.

      • 9.2.1
        Bufford Pusser

        Travis, I want to apologize for Sam’s comment. The majority of Americans highly value our Canadian brothers and sisters. Any one with a lick of sense would see his reply and reasoning is faulty when he said America’s borders were secure…… While illegal immigrants are flowing across our southern border by the thousands every day and we can’t stop them. I’ve been to Canada several times and was treated with respect and a friendly manner every time by the Canadian border guard. Strange though, on my return trips I would get an attitude from my own countrymen manning the US border.

  10. 10
    Zirgs

    I’m surprised that there is no agreement similar to Schengen between USA and Canada.
    And that US border patrol treat canadians as if they were from Somalia or something.

    In Europe you can travel from Tallinn to Gibraltar and no one will even check your passport.

    I recently travelled to Ireland not as a tourist, but as a long term resident-immigrant.
    And on the border they only looked at my passport for 10 seconds and that’s it.
    No interviews, no pat downs TSA style – nothing.
    They did not even ask why I was there.
    And they did not check my luggage either.

  11. 11
    Simon

    It’s stories that these that consistently reinforce my decision to never visit the US.

    I’d love to go to Canada, but I won’t bother with USA.

  12. 12

    Buffolo thought he liked WorldWar II again that he liked this joke of Civil Agents very well, Americans in Civil Services (like police) think on another level (like your great story above) and don’t forget that they are bloody warlike…pfff . Here cut/paste a message of (http://twitter.com/cbpbuffalo)… with this message he likes to go as #US-BorderPatrol over dead bodies again, he is so praud to be an American. Hang him high….

    USCIS ‏@USCIS 25 oktober

    #TBT 12/4/56 Dozens of clerks from Europe sent to Austria help process Hungarian #refugees for #immigration to U.S.http://ow.ly/i/3wq82
    Geretweet door Buffalo

    By the way The Pirate Party in Sweden is realy okay, best wishes for May 2014

  13. 13

    Travis, I read your great story, sorry but I thought about Rick and did not read something about your Party items, as a Dutchman is Sweden in my line of thinking (Wikileaks, Assange, Andersdotter, Iceland, Denmark). Even for you best wishes for 2014.

  14. 14
    Jose

    Mr Travis, i know this post is a few months old but i have a question. When you crossed the Border, were you questioned by CBP Officers or Border Patrol Agents? I am assuming you would know the difference since you claim to visit the US so often.

  15. […] As you may know if you read this blog and my personal stuff regularly, in the past I have had issues at the US border. […]

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Travis is the 23 year old leader of the Pirate Party of Canada and owner of The Ultimate Ebook Library. Bitcoin Address: 1N4nQdD86mmHMWbRu9KZNz2TJsJu6viWJp

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