Saturday, August 23, 2008

Border Tactics

On a regular basis the San Miguel "chat" group called the Civil List gets into a discussion about immigration laws in Mexico, how difficult it is to get Visas, FM3s, or FM2s. There seems to always be someone who thinks that the Mexican bureaucracy is inefficient, excessive and/or overbearing. We have never found that to be the case. All in all, maybe some of those who are complaining should take a good look back North of the Border at what is happening.

Recently at a party we were talking with a couple who have a second home here in San Miguel. They recounted bringing a sum of cash to Mexico, a large sum but not more than the $10,000 which by USA law must be reported. They were questioned about what they were going to do with that amount of money in Mexico. Excuse me. If they weren't breaking any laws in the USA or Mexico, why did the government need to know what they planned to do with their money. Another time when returning from Mexico they were questioned about what they did in Mexico for 21 days.

Back in April, a US court ruled that border agents can search your laptop, or any other electronic device, when you're entering the country. They can take your computer and download its entire contents, or keep it for several days.

Border agents now scan license plates and passports of all exits and re-entries by USA citizens at land crossings as well as by air and all of this is being stored in a traveler database. Ellen Nakashima in an article for The Washington Post, writes that the information will be stored for 15 years and may be used in criminal and intelligence investigations. There are a lot more issues about this data base that should worry all of us because depending on the way it is used, it could become worse than THE WATCH list which theoretically only lists someone for a reason. I hope you will take the time to read the article.

Another blogger, Eddie Willers, wrote this week in his blog, Adventures of a Third World Shopkeeper, about his experience at the McAllen border. He has a British passport, is married to a Mexican, and works in Mexico. Although for a number of years he has regularly crossed the border from Mexico to the United States with his British passport with out a problem, this time he was denied entry. Read about it here.

Hey, all I'm saying is that this just doesn't "feel" right to me and it seems to open the door to more and more ways of invading our privacy. Once they have the data, who will use it and how will it be analyzed?


Mexico Cooks! said...

Billie, read this. You will be sickened, as Judy and I were.

You are spot on: none of this feels right. None of this IS right.

I'm on the way to read Ellen's article, and then Eddie's. Thanks for posting the links.


Deb Hall ~ Zocalo Folk Art said...

We should all wonder, who is watching the watchers?

Billie said...

Cristina, the article that you site is even more frightening. Indeed, who is watching the watchers.