Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > Travel Safety/Security > Practical Travel Safety and Security Issues
Reload this Page >

Do these border crossing experiences sound extreme to you?

Do these border crossing experiences sound extreme to you?

Old Jul 12, 07, 10:35 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Programs: UA Gold
Posts: 791
Do these border crossing experiences sound extreme to you?

Back when I lived on the east coast, my friends and I would occasionally drive the 3 hours up to Canada (Niagara Falls) to drink and go to the casino. Now this was several years ago, but I was retelling this story to some people recently and they seemed to think it sounded pretty extreme so I thought I'd share these two stories.

1st trip:

There are five of us, everyone is 19 or over (legal drinking age in that area of Canada). Now at this age we all dressed a little "differently" and there was probably some piercings and colored hair, but we were still nice, polite kids.

I am sitting in the passenger seat and collect everyone's IDs before it is our turn at the booth so we are prepared. We get there and hand them to the guy. He asks our nationality and what state we were born in (why do they do this?). We are all US but not all born in the same state. The guy looks at the IDs and tells us to pull into the area where they check cars or whatever.

They ask us all to get out. They take our driver aside and talk to him and ask him repeatedly if there are drugs in the car (there definitely WAS NOT). He keeps telling them no - and even tell him that it's okay to admit it, that he won't be in trouble. They tell him to ask us to admit if we have any. We all repeatedly tell them we have nothing.

They then proceed to search the car. They tear up everything, throwing things out of the car, going through our bags and take a dog through the car. They find nothing, of course and finally let us go on through. At no point do I feel we gave them any reason to do this.

2nd trip:

This time there are 4 of us. Same driver, the other two are different people this time. Again, everyone is of age. Again, we have the IDs ready, go through the same process. This time, the guy gives back my ID and one of another friend and asks us to pull into the inspection area.

The other two are informed that there are traces of heroin and cocaine on their IDs. This is impossible, neither of them do these things or were ever in the vicinity of them. Me and the other guy have to sit outside the little building but not in the car. The other two are taken into some kind of interrogation room (separately, I believe) and questioned. I suppose they convinced them, because we were allowed in but this just seemed so crazy. I've never heard of anything like it.

I understand we were kids, but we weren't breaking any rules and everyone handled themselves the way you should. I'm sure they knew why we were going there, but if they did this to every 19 year old going to the Falls to get drunk it would take hours to clear that border!
horse glasses is offline  
Old Jul 12, 07, 11:04 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Washington DC, DCA
Programs: AAdvantage, DL Skymiles, United MP
Posts: 3,931
Was this pre- or post- 911?
MrAndy1369 is offline  
Old Jul 12, 07, 11:19 pm
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Programs: UA Gold
Posts: 791
Post - probably around 2003.
horse glasses is offline  
Old Jul 13, 07, 12:00 am
  #4  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: FLL/LAX/YYZ/TPE
Programs: CO Platinum 1K, United 1K, SPG LT Platinum, National Executive Elite, Platinum TSA Hater
Posts: 33,701
What would 9/11 have anything to do with this? Canadian Customs people can be jerks too - just like US Customs.

They enjoy tearing people's cars apart while searching for drugs, then handing them a slip of paper which basically says 'clean up the mess within x time or we'll dump it in the trash'. They do it fairly often and there is nothing you can do to stop them. Many years ago, the papers ran a story about this after an American visitor got snotty with them while driving his rather expensive Porsche across the Peace Bridge - he got his Porsche back in bits and pieces.

As a US resident traveling back into Canada from Buffalo with my Canadian resident parents, we were all detained when a weasel of an inspector decided that the portable stereo that I bought, which I planned to take back to Florida with me, was being smuggled into Canada by my parents - and my father had to basically bargain for our release and to get the car back without having to buy it back, since they could have decided to sell the car back to him at the current market value.

I've repeatedly been accused of manufacturing my own drivers license because I laminated it, and on another occasion, the inspector insisted my license was a forgery because the original expiry date was 1994 and the renewal sticker had 2012 and according to him "no place has two different expiry dates on a drivers license". When I cross the border sans car, and know they can't do anything to stop me from entering the country as a citizen, I don't generally take their nonsense crap and will get snippy with them.

So no, this has nothing to do with 9/11 (why do so many people think everything has to do with 9/11?), and no, it's not extreme.

When you were in the interrogation areas, did you happen to catch a glimpse of all the confiscated porn they have stacked up? Gives them something to do on a slow night.
bocastephen is offline  
Old Jul 13, 07, 12:16 am
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Programs: UA Gold
Posts: 791
Sadly, no. I wasn't lucky enough to have HARD DRUGS all over my license. It was so absurd - none of us had ever even seen cocaine or heroin in real life before!
horse glasses is offline  
Old Jul 13, 07, 2:00 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: In the home of the "brave"?
Programs: Whatever will get me out of Y and into C or F!
Posts: 3,748
Originally Posted by horse glasses View Post
Sadly, no. I wasn't lucky enough to have HARD DRUGS all over my license. It was so absurd - none of us had ever even seen cocaine or heroin in real life before!
Any piece of U.S. Currency has traces of cocaine on it.
HeHateY is offline  
Old Jul 13, 07, 2:37 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: LAX
Programs: SPG Plat Hyatt Diamond BMI Silver
Posts: 476
If you think thats bad try being 23 years old flying in on a f ticket only to spend two days before returning back home. Oh yeah and add in ariveing on the fifth year anniversary of september 11th. It got so bad that I had my laptop searched and questions asked about my excel documents of all things!
Tom92591 is offline  
Old Jul 13, 07, 11:24 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Georgia and Manila, PH
Programs: NW Gold Elite, DL, HH, Victoria Court Select Member
Posts: 637
Originally Posted by Tom92591 View Post
If you think thats bad try being 23 years old flying in on a f ticket only to spend two days before returning back home. Oh yeah and add in ariveing on the fifth year anniversary of september 11th. It got so bad that I had my laptop searched and questions asked about my excel documents of all things!

A friend of mine returning from job fares in Europe had his flash drive inspected. All they found was a copy of his resume and medical records. They even questioned why he was carrying his medical records, as if this should be cause for suspicion. They didn't ask if the could inspect the flash drive, they just told him they were doing it. Being young and naive he let this go on. I gave him a real tongue lashing about standing up for his rights. It's none of their business what he had on the flash drive.

Never let anyone go through your computer or memory storage without a warrant!
viking407rob is offline  
Old Jul 13, 07, 11:39 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: STR and TBS
Posts: 273
..just like the Swiss..

One of my cousins had an experience not unlike the OP's crossing the Swiss border - this must have been back in the 80s. The family had been transferred from a UK to an Italian-based position not too long before that, and their son had some friends from Italy over to visit and took them on a trip to Germany. So crossing the border we have
1) one German citizen
2) one or two Brits
3) a Dutch hitchhiker
4) in a car with right-hand steering wheel and
5) Italian license plates
The way I heard the story it took them several hours to get through customs/immigration, and every gum wrapper came in for special scrutiny..
basia is offline  
Old Jul 13, 07, 11:39 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: MSP
Programs: SPG Gold;NWA gold;Hyatt Plat
Posts: 1,458
Originally Posted by viking407rob View Post
AI gave him a real tongue lashing about standing up for his rights. It's none of their business what he had on the flash drive.

Never let anyone go through your computer or memory storage without a warrant!
Customs can search ya all you want without a warrant.. They are the execption to the rule.

There is a case working its way up through the court systems challenging computer/flash memory serches, but so far, they can do it..
goaliemn is offline  
Old Jul 13, 07, 12:56 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Georgia and Manila, PH
Programs: NW Gold Elite, DL, HH, Victoria Court Select Member
Posts: 637
Originally Posted by goaliemn View Post
Customs can search ya all you want without a warrant.. They are the execption to the rule.

There is a case working its way up through the court systems challenging computer/flash memory serches, but so far, they can do it..

Maybe so but I'd still protest. It isn't right and the more we take it lying down the more they will abuse their authority.
viking407rob is offline  
Old Jul 13, 07, 1:41 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: MSP
Programs: SPG Gold;NWA gold;Hyatt Plat
Posts: 1,458
Originally Posted by viking407rob View Post
Maybe so but I'd still protest. It isn't right and the more we take it lying down the more they will abuse their authority.
Yup. You can do that. When you're locked in the dention cell as they search every inch of you and every posession with you, your thought on that may change.

Customs is one of those areas where I don't mind them having alittle more authority than standard cops, but they still need to have some limits.
goaliemn is offline  
Old Jul 14, 07, 7:55 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Georgia and Manila, PH
Programs: NW Gold Elite, DL, HH, Victoria Court Select Member
Posts: 637
Originally Posted by goaliemn View Post
Yup. You can do that. When you're locked in the dention cell as they search every inch of you and every posession with you, your thought on that may change.

Customs is one of those areas where I don't mind them having alittle more authority than standard cops, but they still need to have some limits.

I certainly don't go out of my way to cause trouble or draw attention to myself. I refuse to live in fear and will certainly speak up if I feel my rights are being stepped on. Sure they have a job to do and I appreciate their presence, in most cases. I still don't think they should have more authority than what the Constitution intended, at least where citizens are concerned. The main reason for the fourth amendment was to prevent federal government from taking the liberties with unlawful search and seizure. So on that point I'd disagree. If anything these guys should have less authority than local cops and shouldn't have the right to carry out such searches without probable cause. The more people are afraid to speak out the more their rights will be infringed upon.
viking407rob is offline  
Old Jul 14, 07, 8:20 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: ICN / 평택
Programs: AA, DL Silver, UA Gold, HHonors Gold
Posts: 8,563
Sounds like a lot of nightmares at the US-Canada border. While Customs / Immigration on both side do have the legal right to do what they do, I look forward to the day when US / Canada borders are similar to Schengen borders in Europe.

Knock off the crap.
etch5895 is offline  
Old Jul 14, 07, 9:38 pm
  #15  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: In a little twisty maze of airline seats, all alike...
Programs: CO, NW & UA forum moderator emeritus
Posts: 28,381
I recall being in Buffalo, NY with a friend one time. We decided to drive into Canada to buy some beer. We crossed into Canada, found a beer store and bought about 20 cases. Some of the folks in and near the store told us we couldn't bring that much back with us. I knew we could, and expected just have to pay the duty. We completely filled the trunk of the car. This meant that we had to move our small bags of clothes and our empty cooler into the back seat.

Our next stop was at a pharmacy. My friend asked the pharmacist something like, "What can I get here that I can't get in the US?" At first the pharmacist was reluctant to tell him anything. Within a couple of minutes, however, we were on a guided tour of the store discussing and comparing the efficacy of various offerings. Shortly thereafter, and no more than an hour after we had crossed into Canada, we were in the customs line for entry into the US.

I had driven into Canada and my friend was driving on the way out. As we pulled up to the booth I was preparing myself for the trip to the curb to empty the trunk and count the beer, pay duty, etc. The customs man asked us where we were citizens of. He then asked what was in the cooler on the back seat. "Nothing," replied my friend. "Okay. Move along," was his reply. As we crossed the bridge I turned to my friend and asked, "What happened to 'Anything to declare?'" It took me a few minutes to fully realize what had happened.


I only had a problem once entering the US from Canada. I was in the 1980s in YYZ trying to fly home to EWR. I had lost my driver's license and only had a college ID with my SSN on it. The customs official was rather mean. He said that my license was no good anyway, as it only proved my right to drive in NJ. He wanted to see a voter registration card. Naturally, I didn't have one. I guess some US counties issue these, but no place that I have ever lived issues such a document. I finally showed him my student ID and they grudgingly let me in. The same agent gave my mother a hard time asking her for her naturalization papers. She had become a US citizen ~25 years before. According to the agent she needed to carry this document everywhere. It seemed as if the agent gave us a hard time because we had time before our flight and because he could. I could tell he was going to let us in before he did so. I guess he just liked giving people a hard time.

Last edited by Xyzzy; Jul 14, 07 at 9:43 pm
Xyzzy is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread