border crossing take 2

[redsock guest post]

So Laura felt that our detention at the US border last November would be a "one time incident". ... Bzzzt! Wrong.

We left the house at 8, hoping to get to the airport in Buffalo at 10:30 for L's 11:30-ish flight. Monday morning traffic was less than expected and we drove over the Peace Bridge at about 10. Laura was driving and handled the booth guy our passports. There was the usual questions (citizenship, destination/why) and the passport swipes, and then:
BG: So you had some trouble the last time you crossed the border?

L: Yes, I did.

BG: Why was that?

L: Because of my political activism in Canada.

After a brief pause, he asked Laura to put the car in park, unlock the doors, turn off the engine, and hand him the keys. She did. He asked her to get out of the car and I think someone else opened our hatchback (nothing back there but white dog hair).

I was motioned to get out of the car also. I was asked if I was carrying any weapons or sharp objects, perhaps a knife, or a cellphone. Four border patrolmen escorted us to the same building we had been detained in last November. At some point, one of the men must have turned back and gone to move our car, which was still silently parked alongside the booth, into the parking lot.

This time they took us in the back way so we entered the main waiting room from another direction. They told us to sit. When Laura asked to go to the ladies room, they simply waved her across the room. This was very different, since last time we had been separated the entire time and L had needed an armed guard to take her to the rest room.

We couldn't imagine what they could talk to us about. Pretty much the last thing the border guards told us in November was "You are not breaking any US laws, but we don't like how you live your life in Canada, so we are going to delay you for two hours and search through your suitcases and notebook because we can." Not a direct quote, but that was the gist.

We had been waiting about 25 minutes when someone signaled for us to come up to the counter. No questions this time, though; the guy said we were free to go. The man who brought us out to our car apologized for the delay. He said it was because "we had to call someone". We did not ask who was called. L's suitcase had been searched, of course -- it was turned the opposite way in the back seat and some of the zippers had not been closed.

It was about 10:40. It seemed like they had wanted to delay us long enough for Laura to just miss her plane. But we got to the airport at about 11, L dashed inside, and when I got home, there was a message from 11:13 saying she had made the flight.

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