Letters to the Editor -- October 17, 2002

Published on Thu, Oct 17, 2002
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Letters to the Editor


Security risks?
The Editor:
I am writing to express my deep concern with the manner in which American border crossing inspectors are conducting their work. As the border crossings lay in your paper’s boundaries I thought the following information may give you an indication of what madness and insult foreign nationals are put through at the hands of certain border inspectors.
Yesterday I chose to take a trip down to Washington as I love exploring your beautiful state. I have been there on numerous occasions and am always impressed by its natural beauty and diversity. I am an Australian citizen on a teaching exchange in Surrey, B.C. I arrived at the Peace Arch border crossing expecting a lengthy delay given that it was a Sunday afternoon of a Canadian long weekend. After a shorter than expected 30 minute wait I was directed by the initial guard to go in and get a visa waiver form which Australian residents need to purchase in order to enter the US.
The border crossing inspector, Inspector M (name witheld), told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to enter the U.S. as I didn’t have my airline ticket showing which date I was leaving Canada. I politely highlighted that my Canadian working permit clearly indicated that I was employed in Canada until Christmas, even specifying the school and that I was then to return to my school in Australia. He said that Canadian documentation was irrelevant in the USA. He continued to go on and inform me that I was very privileged to be allowed to enter the U.S. and that it was an honor, not a right of foreign tourists to enter the U.S. He also stated that the problem with people these days was that everyone just expected to get everything for free. (We actually pay six dollars every time we get a visa waiver.) I asked if he could call Air Canada and verify my departure date with them as being January 1, 2003. He simply replied that it was not his job to speak to airline staff. Enquiring whether I could use the internet facility to bring up the required information he stated once again that it was not his responsibility. He issued me an I-160 A form and ordered my return to Canada. My passport clearly showed that I had entered and left the U.S. on numerous dates throughout the year. This in itself would indicate that I had no intention of staying in the U.S. Nonetheless I was to return to Canada.
The most frustrating thing about this is that under the requirements for land border entry a return flight is not required. (according to the INS website). Inspector M also spoke incredibly loudly ensuring that all of the people waiting at the customs desk could hear. I was the only person at the immigration section. There were, however, four or five immigration officers all sitting around the desk listening to the conversation intently.
This left a very negative impression on the U.S. in my mind.
I remained very calm and was told that I was fortunate that I wasn’t banned from the U.S. for five years as he had the power to do that. He said “since you seem like a nice guy I will let that slide.” On my return to Canadian immigration I was greeted much more respectfully and professionally by agents who were apologetic and sincere. They didn’t seem surprised by the American agents action at all and kindly assisted me in going about making a formal complaint by giving me the relevant phone numbers.
I can understand Americans’ strict control over their borders. What I do not understand is how a well educated, 32-year-old Australian elementary school teacher poses a threat to national security as he explores a beautiful state. I arrived at the border crossing with my passport, American and Canadian currency and an assortment of credit cards. My wallet was filled with the trappings of daily life, video memberships, store cards, library cards and the like indicating that I was a stable and responsible citizen. I drove through the border in my own car with Canadian registration. The arrogance and rudeness of the inspector is unfortunately the harsh image which is often reflected in the foreign press of the loud-mouthed American. I know that this stereotype is not an accurate one as I know and share great friendships with a number of wonderful Americans. However, this experience has definitely tarred my opinion of Americans and their country.
I returned home (a 40-minute drive) collected my tickets and printed off my itinerary from the internet. I drove to the truck crossing this time as the queue there is substantially less given the now mid-afternoon time. I was greeted there by an equally zealous inspector, Inspector P. He too was having what could only be called a very quiet day. I explained the story to him. He simply told me that I would have to return to the same crossing point and speak to the same inspector there. I politely asked if he could call Inspector M and simply verify that I needed to show the airline ticket. He initially refused. I asked him what documentation I was required to bring with me each time I went over the border. He refused to answer me and said that I was asking too many questions. He rang and spoke to Inspector M and informed him that I was being sent back over to him. However, before being sent back I was questioned, made to give my car registration details and show the inspector my car. He photocopied my passport and Canadian working permit as he questioned me repeatedly as to why I was in such a hurry to get to the states. To be honest by this stage I had given up on the idea of exploring the states as three hours had passed since I first tried to cross the border. I just wanted to sort the visa out in order to prevent any further complications. Who wouldn’t be in a hurry or anxious to avoid another line up at the U.S. border given the scenario.
I was once again sent back to Canada but this time informed that if I attempted to drive into the U.S. he would turn on the alarms. Once again I was greeted by truly professional and polite immigration staff in Canada. I drove to the Peace Arch and sat in line for some time before finally getting to the immigration desk. I went to speak to Inspector M as I was told to but he ignored me and yelled out to a colleague to let me through if I had my airline ticket with me. This coming from the same man who had just told Inspector P to return me to him. Inspector P had already seen my tickets. Inspector M smugly sat at his desk as I spent the two minutes filling in the form and paid my six dollars to another member of staff.
Finally I was allowed to enter the U.S. after five hours of complete madness. As you can imagine I have no great desire to subject myself to that again. It is amazing how the arrogance and self-importance of a few can tar your entire opinion of a nation. I love Washington state but will definitely think twice before ever subjecting myself to the trauma of a crossing. It is such a shame that my lasting impression of Washington state will be of this bureaucratic power show. Perhaps the U.S. border control could spend their time on more important areas rather than protecting the United States from well educated, middle class Australian elementary teachers whose sole desire was to see more of a beautiful state. Given that a very large number of Australians were murdered in Bali the previous day in what many conclude to be a payback for our country’s support of the U.S. the timing of this incident couldn’t have been worse.
John Hicks
Surrey, BC

The Editor:
The efficient FBI of 50 years ago (during the J. Edgar Hoover era) voraciously recorded traffic citations of American citizens, which to this day are listed in the N.C.I.C. (National Crime Information Center) data banks used by Canada to screen Americans entering its borders.
A 62-year-old applicant for NEXUS had been arrested at age 19, as a student in transit from part-time work where he was attending college in Illinois. He was in a vehicle eating hamburgers with several others whom he barely knew. The driver of the vehicle was pulled over by police who subsequently found a warm bottle of beer under the front seat, the seal of which had “been broken”.
The infraction of “illegal transportation of alcohol” levied against the driver also was levied against the college-student/passenger in the vehicle! And this inappropriately levied infraction comes up on Canada’s NEXUS computer data-base, thanks to the Hoover-era N.C.I.C.
The result: this 62-year-old gentleman, an 11-year veteran of the U.S.A.R. from 1963-1974, with top secret clearance, a clean traffic-record, with all his bills paid, is denied entry back into his own country! A reject of the Canadian NEXUS program!
Join us in a class-action lawsuit if you have similarly been refused by NEXUS. Contact Klones & Such at fax 360/671-4740, Everett Barton, proprietor, or e-mail tellus@citizensforcommonsenseborders.com.
Everett Barton
Bellingham

A trashy attitude
The Editor:
I live in the Caple’s Addition to Blaine - off the beaten path, according to local real estate listings. As a runner, I beat down the path between our house, Lincoln Park and the track at the Blaine schools on a regular basis.
On Monday, my goals were two - to run some circuits in Lincoln Park and to pick up any trash on my route or in the park. Fortunately, I had taken two plastic bags with me and I filled them both. My analysis of the type of individuals who litter our roads and the park is as follows:
1. Cigarette smokers: Their empty cartons and butts are strewn everywhere.
2. Customers of fast-food establishments. These people apparently think their disposable food and beverage containers are for disposal anywhere - except their own neighborhood.
3. Drinkers of alcoholic beverages in beer cans and liquor bottles. Maybe by the time they’ve emptied the contents, they are unable to distinguish between a trash container and the roadside.
On Tuesday, I ran through the park and on down to the track - only to witness more trash. This time it was piles of it underneath the grandstand seats on the side of the track. Obviously there had been a home football game, and the spectators had displayed an utter lack of respect for one of the facilities of their community school by just dropping anything under their seats.
I did not pick this up. I suppose the litterers think that the maintenance people at the school have nothing better to do? Is that how they demonstrate their Borderite Pride? I presume that many in that audience were the parents, friends and classmates of the young athletes competing on the field. What a sad model they presented of respecting the school and protecting the environment.
Diane Palmason
Blaine

Dave's diatribe
The Editor:
Despite the promises made by the high priced consultants of getting 70-80 percent funding of the regional wastewater treatment plant, I told you two years ago that you would not get the funding.
Now you can blame it on 9/11 or whatever excuse you want to, but the fact remains that I told you two years ago, long before 9/11.
Council and the city manager are still trying to spend money they don’t have, and won’t get. So now maybe they will use some of their common sense and call that consultant who stood before them two years ago and told them could design a wastewater treatment plant down on Marine Drive for five million dollars and that it would be almost odorless and if you will remember I made that suggestion five years ago with Mr. Bresnan.
Start thinking of the sane way to do things, instead of spending money you don’t have with no business to support the impossible.
Dave White
Blaine

Taxed out
The Editor:
The government taxes your paycheck, phone calls, computer use, electrical use, water and sewer use, propane, gasoline, and diesel fuel, your vehicles, clothing, food, medicine, books, furniture, pets, entertainment, toilet paper, home, property, tires, bingo, hotels/motels, cable TV, mobile homes, dry cleaning, gambling, You get taxed when you get married, when you have children, when you are in the hospital, when you buy alcohol, or cigarettes, when you sell stocks, when you buy a burial plot, when you buy a casket, and finally, it taxes you when you die.
Please, Lord, don’t tell the tax-and-spend fools representing us in Olympia, and Washington D.C. that we breath air.
The state and federal governments have imposed a tax on every aspect of our lives. Most Americans pay over 50 percent of their earnings in one form of tax or another.
Land of the free? Try not paying your taxes!
Keep in mind that the Boston Tea Party was sparked by a one-half of one percent increase in the tea tax. But that was when men and women desired freedom from the tyrannical King George III and were willing to take a stand for what became and formerly was the American way. For those who aren’t familiar, the American way was a republican, constitutional government with limited powers that served the people.
They’ve bamboozled us into giving up rights and our income, and they’ve persuaded us to turn political power in this country over to them. But if we fully understand what they’re doing, they lose their power over us.
To the uninformed may I suggest you review the economic status of Washington state on the web at http:www.cafrman.com/Articles/Art-WA-SI.htm, (www.cafrman.com), the comprehensive annual financial report.
As of 2001 you will learn our state has at least $20.49 billion in potential surpluses of the taxpayers money it is not using.
Do we need R-51 that builds no roads, but provides for “environmental mitigation” and a probable 30 year bond debt to replace 12-year-old roads. It will put the state back into our pocketbook without giving an answer to the transportation problems we have. It’s another con job creating more government control and giving them the money to do it.
When you hear budget shortfall or budget deficit it means the planned expenditures will not have enough revenue coming in to cover it. However, if the state is not using this surplus money it could return as much as $3,503 to every man, woman and child in the state, or $14,019 per family of four.
The most dramatic portion of the $20.49 billion surplus is in the Worker’s Unemployment Fund ($9.08 billion). Remember budgets do not include surpluses. Surpluses provide interest and dividends, not operating capital. Raising taxes makes up for the deficit. But if the monies are returned to the taxpayers the Washington economy would grow by $7 per capita. That’s 16 times the amount of the Bush tax cut. Washington business income could double or triple. And with the adjustment of the B&O tax to eliminated expenditures for business operations, we would put our state in the black instead of the red. And when our governor hires over 10,000 government employees (at 53 grand each) all I can see is votes for a Democratic
majority.
Become informed. Vote and return the government of the people; for the people; to the people. Me? I vote opposite the controllers. No on R-51; Yes on I-77 and vote for any republican. Until December 31, sign Initiative #267 to redirect sales and use taxes to transportation infrastructure.
Martin Van Buren
Lynden

Election rhetoric
The Editor:
Does compromise show weakness?
A recent Bellingham Herald letter writer insisted “compromise is what makes a person reasonable.”
A very misleading quip, as the letter writer left out an important meaning of compromise – to expose or make liable to danger or suspicion.
The Linville supporter argued that compromise doesn’t show weakness as her opponent has said. Let’s look at what weakness means.
Lacking firmness of character or strength of will. (Overspending our budget by 2 billion...yes with a B.)
Lacking aptitude or skill (using tobacco money needed to stop teenage smoking used to cover her oooops?)
Lacking persuasiveness; unconvincing (waving good-bye from the tarmac as Boeing left our business unfriendly state).
Lacking authority or the power to govern (supports Referendum 51 - supporting more tax increases - need I say more).
Sure sounds like incumbent Democrat state representative aka Ms. Linville’s leadership skills.
Some things in life you just can’t compromise on. Republicans call them principles. Democrats call them photo ops.
There are many of my beliefs that I would be willing to fight for. Does that make me unreasonable? I think not. If I can’t put it on the line for what I believe in, I am living in mediocrity...which is moderate to inferior in quality; or just plain ordinary.
If a leader doesn’t believe in something and is willing to compromise on everything, how is that reasonable? It is weakness not to be able to stick to your principles!
If you don’t believe in something, you’ll fall for everything.
Do you want a legislator willing to compromise most of her principles, or do you want a legislator who you know where he stands?
It’s time for a legislator who fights for you and who won’t roll over. Vote for Gene Goldsmith!
Mandy Gagnon
Blaine

Semiahmoo buffs
The Editor:
As former Semiahmoo residents, it would be nice to see some mention of the activities there or at least of the people who live there and participate in Blaine projects. We now live in Sarasota, Florida and have your newspaper on our computer. We hope to sometimes hear of some Semiahmoo developments. Thank you.
Phyllis and Ed Root
Florida

Letters Policy
The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank-you letters should be limited to 10 names. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please send your letter to:
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E-mail:editor@thenorthernlight.com

Letters Policy

The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank you letters are limited to five individuals or groups. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please email letters to letters@thenorthernlight.com