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I have a friend. Her name is Gwen. She is a young woman of 22. A professional actress. She is a dual Canadian/British citizen and her passports and traveling papers are in order. She took a bus from Central Mexico to the Texas border. Her plan was to change busses in Laredo and meet up with her boyfriend, a former U.S. Soldier (current Texas National Guard,) in Dallas and set up house together.

Instead, she was detained by the TSA and handcuffed to a chair for over an hour. The Agents went through all her stuff, read through her personal diary, she was forced to miss her connecting bus, was not allowed a phone call to her frantic mother who was waiting to hear she'd crossed the border. Gwen was finally let go without a word of explanation, apology or assistance. Given the TSA's track record of power trips and prurient interests, one has to wonder why a young, pretty, white girl, with a slightly British accent, certainly not a suspected racial profile of the terror watch, coming across the border from Mexico was detained and handcuffed. Did the TSA guy get a crush?

But there's more.

Meanwhile, Gwen's mom, a good friend and source for this tale, was trying to call the bus company and border stations on both sides. She finally got hold of the TSA who told her they had no record of detaining Gwen or a record of her border crossing, and that, “maybe the Mexicans had her.”

Laredo, like all northern Mexican towns bordering Texas, is a mean, nasty place and a hub for drug traffickers. No Mom wants to hear her only child is stranded in a place like that.

The idea a young single woman crossing the US border with Mexico was detained for more than an hour, questioned about entries in her personal diary, her references checked and cross-checked and then they have no record of their action is mind boggling to me. But in an America where oversight and accountability are only enforced upon the 99% and institutions of power and privilege are given a free pass, what can one expect?

Were the TSA agents merely amusing themselves after year upon year of no terrorists, no terrorists, no terrorists or did they think they had a real Mata Hari on their hands involved with smuggling nuclear codes to the Russians? Or were they just horny and absolute power corrupts absolutely?

We'll never know. It's a state secret.

Or it never happened.

Or both.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I quite agree - this is getting totally out of (9+ / 0-)

    control.  Why would anyone from another country even want to visit the USA anymore - the paranoia is so extreme, one never knows what kind of interrogation one will face.  I'm an elderly person who lives just one hour from the Canadian border.  When I go across to visit, Canadian border guards are polite, business-like professionals. It takes less than 2 minutes to check my passport and ask a few pertinent questions about where I'm going and how long I plan to stay etc.  When returning to my own country, I have had to put up with rude, snide comments about what was I doing in Canada, who did I have contact with - give me their names, addresses and phone numbers. Are you bringing back any contraband - I need to search your car..... it always takes 15-30 minutes.  And not even a "have a nice day."  

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 07:52:55 AM PDT

    •  It has been as you describe since 1967 (first time (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I visited Canada and returned to USA, my own country.)

      As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all.

      by SanFernandoValleyMom on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 02:44:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I got the Hell Search when I went to Canada (0+ / 0-)

        about a year and a hapf ago I drive to Vancouver. I had a terrible time getting into Canada
        Geez, I think someone who looked just like me robbed  a bank around the corner.
        They talked real nasty to me, accused me of all kinds of crimes I never even thought of, searched me, searched my car and made me wait on the Group W Bench while they did it. It took me at least 2 hours of solid intimidation to get through.
        I m a 63 year old  white man driving a nice well kept up car.  I was doing nothing illegal and carrying nothing illegal.
        I just renewed my passport this spring and noticed in the last 10 years Ive been in 11 differen countries including Vietnam, a country I was formerly at war with. . Canada was the worst border crossing of all. some real uptight assholes.
        Fck them , I don't need anything Canada's got and I won't go back either,. I like going to places where they know how to treat tourists nicely.
        Anybody who thinks they treat you right at the Canadian border obviously never got there on a bad day.

        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 04:09:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well, maybe it was the anniversary of the ditz who (0+ / 0-)

          was looking for Vancouver WASHINGTON and unknowingly had a GRENADE in her car, who showed up at the Peace Arch crossing in Feb of 2004... seven years ago before your 18 mo??

          Now, if you'd said 2 and a half years, I would have expected the craziness associated with the Vancouver Winter Games. I understand it was hell to live through.

          We, my husband and I, have been crossing at Blaine for more than 30 years, both before and after we got together, and have never had that kind of encounter. On the Canadian side, anyway.

          Sorry you hit them on an off day. Or maybe a day when something else had happened earlier.

          "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

          by chimene on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 05:55:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It reminds me of the film "Missing" (5+ / 0-)

    except this has a FAR better ending.

    When our country can't even track those they detain (be that for good or poor reason), something is VERY wrong.

    This is just creepy.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 08:04:16 AM PDT

  •  For the first 24 hours (5+ / 0-)

    the TSA is not obligated to release any information about whether somebody is being held. Basically, up to an entire day, your existence vanishes. You can't call family, no lawyers. Nothin'.

    Also, if they do an inspection of you your stuff, and they completely take things apart (such as your car), they are under no obligation to put it back together again. Just hope they didn't misplace any of the parts.

    These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people... -Abraham Lincoln

    by HugoDog on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 08:30:04 AM PDT

  •  I left the USA exactly 7 years ago and only read (5+ / 0-)

    about this stuff. It is hard to believe what the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave has degenerated into. Maybe the TSA feels their jobs would be less stressful if there were not any visitors to the USA and this is their way to discourage visitors.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 08:48:18 AM PDT

  •  I have read that (4+ / 0-)

    attractive young women are far more likely to to scrutinized. But the TSA agents are permitted to make up the rules as they go along, as well. How else can we keep the terrorists from following the laws to avoid suspicion except by keeping the requirements secret, capricious, inscrutable, and arbitrary?

  •  Bummer. (0+ / 0-)

    But that is what people of color endure every day, not only on our borders, but on our streets.

    I suppose they have to pull their quota of white people to prove they aren't profiling latina/latinos; which they are, usually. Or blacks or arabs.

    Its kind of a stretch, unless untoward comments or actions happened to make it sexual, even if she is hot.  I mean, that could be it, but isn't it as likely they saw young college age kid and thought "smuggling drugs"?  Or is she political?  I'm pretty sure our names are on lists somewhere...

    Perhaps they know there has been outrage about this, and had to target one to prove they are not biased:

    There is US immigration law... 396,906 POC deported fiscal year 2011.

    And, there is US immigration law if you're white, wealthy, and British:

    "Lauren Gray is one of the lucky few:  Born in Britain but raised in Missouri, Gray last week narrowly avoided deportation. Her parents came years ago on business visas, which permitted her to stay in the country only until she turned 21 last week.  Gray's parents left Britain in 1995 to manage a hotel and restaurant in the tiny town of Trenton. They came using E-2 visas, the principal route for entrepreneurs who want to launch businesses in the United States.

    Gray's cause got the attention of a home state senator, Claire McCaskill, whose office says she personally called Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

    The Department of Homeland Security said its decision was based on its authority to use "prosecutorial discretion" to focus on "individuals who pose a threat to public safety or national security"

    Any questions?  "Her little sister Gemma said she didn't want to leave " just because of a stupid law." I wonder how that would go over if some honor student from Mexico said it?

    They would be screaming, "See? They don't respect our laws!""

    All in all, its a Police State in the US now.  It just gets more attention when they come after white people.

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