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Border crossing procedures: a necessary evil

July 30, 2010
Lake Placid News

Getting delayed while crossing the border has become the norm. Being detained at the border is a distinct possibility as a result of the effort to protect not only the national security of the United States, but the safety of our nation’s citizens as well.

    Recently, there have been incidents reported in the news of individuals “wrongfully” being placed in handcuffs and detained at the border because their names were on a list of suspects or potential terrorist threats to our nation. Two of these incidents have involved the director of the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce and a Keene Valley resident, who, according to reports, is not an American citizen but has a VISA allowing her to be in the country.

    Each time, these individuals have contacted the local media to announce their dissatisfaction about being detained and/or handcuffed. They have also contacted the area’s members of Congress to convey their displeasure and solicit action. However, each did not display any understanding or sympathy as to the reasons they were detained.

    In both cases, they were not the same individuals listed — and were let go as soon as authorities were certain they were not a threat at all.

    While it is understood as to the distress and embarrassment felt by each U.S. citizen who is detained or handcuffed — certainly this happens occasionally — we, as a nation, have become overly sensitive. It’s no fun to have others watch you taken away by police or border patrol agents, but although being placed in handcuffs at a busy border crossing may seem over the top, what else can those charged with protecting this country do?

    There are thousands of people crossing the border on any given day, is it really fair to expect border agents to remember each individual who passes on a regular basis? And although there is sophisticated technology, can we really expect agents to decipher everything when a vehicle stops at a crossing? Should we really think it is plausible to remove names from a threat list just because someone else has the same name and might be inconvenienced?

    Unfortunately, the world we live in, with a severe threat of terrorist attacks, does not allow each and every citizen to have the same amount of freedom when re-entering the country as they do in every day life.

    The next time an individual or group gets through our security and causes harm to American citizens, there will be an outcry as people wonder how they got through our border security. And it’s sad to say, there WILL be a next time.

    It’s the world we live in. Citizens should take some comfort with the fact the folks manning the border crossing are doing their jobs to make our nation safer from any terrorist attack. Thousands of people who lost loved ones wish that was the case prior to September 11, 2001.



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