Letters to the Editor -- July 29, 2004

Published on Thu, Jul 29, 2004
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Letters to the Editor

The Editor:
I’d like to begin by stating that it is a pleasure living so close to the international border and Canadians, who are the best of neighbors. They are always welcome in our country.
That having been said, please allow me to make a few comments regarding the letter from “Name Withheld” of Vancouver, B.C., in your July 22 edition, concerning a Canadian woman and her daughter’s alleged experience at the Peace Arch port of entry.
The United States, as well as any other nation, possesses an intrinsic right to protect its borders. This is particularly true for the United States in light of terrorist attacks against our population, which have been directed at us on at least two occasions (attempted bombing of LAX by a terrorist entering at Port Angeles and repeated crossings of terrorists through Blaine, who were involved in the original Trade Center bombing) by persons entering through Canada.
I don’t mean to imply that the woman and her daughter were terrorists, but it is important to point out that American authorities are very aware of Canada’s cavalier attitude regarding immigrants who have proven to be a threat to the United States. The same may also be said regarding illegal drugs. Just because a person may grow, consume or sell marijuana with relative impunity in British Columbia doesn’t mean that U.S. border inspectors should be as permissive. These conditions only cause inspectors to be more vigilant.
Visitors should be aware that U.S. border officials have every legal right to search persons, possessions and conveyances entering this country as a matter of course. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed the right of customs officers to perform these searches without cause. So telling a customs officer that you have “money and other things (in your wallet) that you don’t want looked through” is bound to produce curiosity on the part of the inspector. If I were entering Canada under the same circumstances, I would readily comply with such a request.
This woman also charged that inspectors were rude and demeaning. There is never excuse for such behavior by a civil servant, if it did indeed occur.
Peter Guimond
Blaine

The Editor:
As one Canadian to another (re: July 22 - 28 issue; unfair border guard), I was absolutely shocked to read that this woman thought she had been treated unfairly. I travel the border weekly as well and was very interested to read this ‘article’ - funny thing is, when I got to the end of the story, I didn’t read any mistreatment that was not caused by specific actions.
I have a boyfriend in Blaine, therefore I come across ‘the line’ a couple or three times a week. I have been asked to go inside for questioning on a few occasions. Each time I have been questioned, the guards have been straightforward, somewhat polite and never, never, never physical. As soon as I read that the daughter didn’t want the guard to see something inside her wallet (never mind her purse), the red flag went up in my mind - what is she hiding? If the border guards specifically ask to see something (eg: wallet, purse, contents of a trunk or contents of a motorhome), it is their right to inspect. What the border guards are looking for is not for us to question. We (as Canadians) have to keep in mind that the process these border guards have in place keep not only the American’s safe but the Canadians as well.
It is unfortunate that Suzanne (as she had apparently nothing to hide) did not cooperate with the border guards. Border guards and police are doing a specific job, and when they believe that there is a threat, they need to act appropriately for the greater good - not for the feelings of one person who is not cooperating. In fact, if you were called to be a witness in Canada in a court of law, is it not true that if you are not cooperating you are termed ‘hostile’ and that is an offense punishable by law and jail time to be served?
For the letter writer to insinuate that this was a ‘misuse of power and paranoia being used on an innocent 24-year-old female from Vancouver’ made me cringe as a woman as well as a Canadian. From what I read, the guards specifically asked for her wallet (which she denied), her purse (which she denied) and notified her that she was being refused entry and would be fingerprinted. I would like to voice my opinion as one Canadian that has been involved with the process of ‘going inside’ to chat, that I would suggest that Suzanne made this much more difficult than it had to be. Although I have never been asked for my wallet (which they could look through), or my purse (which they could look through), I know that they have looked through my car and that I have never been fingerprinted or refused entry.
I believe that as Canadians, we have always had a good relationship with ‘U.S. border towns.’ Sometimes we forget that on our way to pick up less expensive cheese, we are in fact, crossing an international border. Each and everyone of us should be prepared (or paranoid as referred to) - have you forgotten September 11 and that some of those terrorists made entry into the States from Canada? I have no issue with waiting in line-ups, being asked to go ‘inside’ and overall feeling protected from those guards (both Canadian and American) for doing their job to keep us safe.
Nancy Cliffe
Surrey, B.C.

The Editor:

One of the nice things about retirement is being able to walk my dog to the Peace Arch Park where I can see the diligence and professionalism of the groundskeepers.
They are unfailingly courteous to me while continuing their duties. We are fortunate to have such people caring for this symbol of international unity.
Thank you.
George Tranberg
Blaine

The Editor:
I am sick and tired of Canadians complaining about the way they are treated at the border. It was not their country that was attacked – it was ours.
The department of homeland security is charged with protecting this country from attacks now and in the future. They have the same powers as any other law enforcement agency including the RCMP and Canada customs and immigration.
When any law enforcement person makes a request of you and you offer resistance they are going to react the way that they are supposed to. If your daughter had complied with all of the requests by the office asking at the time he made the request, you probably would have been cleared and on your way to your shopping trip without further problems. But no! Your daughter had to try and argue with the officer which is what got her in the trouble she encountered.
I have had the same type of problems with your Canadian officials and I have always found it easier to submit to their requests then to confront the situation at that time.
If we do not allow the law enforcement people of our respective countries to do their charged duties the way they have been trained to do them then we leave ourselves open to many further attacks.
Whether you like the way that you were treated or not, I thank God everyday that we have the dedicated men and women of the department of homeland security risking their lives so that I can put my head down at night and sleep peacefully, because I do not want to see another 911.
It is a known fact that there are 17 terrorist cells operating out of Canada and now your government is allowing Al-Jazeera to broadcast over your airwaves and somehow you feel hurt and upset by the way you were treated, when your daughter would not comply.
I am sorry that you were treated that way, but I also defend the actions of the officer for doing his job.
Would you be as critical if the shoes were reversed and it was a Canadian official who was doing his job protecting your country?
David White
Blaine

(Ed. Note: One other letter in support of border personnel was received, taking us to task for withholding the letter writer’s name.This letter was unsigned. As a matter of policy, The Northern Light does not publish anonymous letters.We may, on occasion, agree to withhold names in situations where the letter writer is able to justify the need for such action.)

 

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:
225 Marine Drive, Blaine, WA 98230 or fax 360/332-2777.
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