We recently traveled through the American South West. During our drive I came across an elaborate checkpoint out in the middle of nowhere on a two-lane highway. A border patrol person started asking me where I was going and if I was a US citizen while his buddy started around the car with a dog.
Luckily, in this case, the agents were helpful and told us the road ahead was closed due to a winter storm.
We doubled back and took another highway that was open. We then ran into another checkpoint, where I had a quick chat with the border patrol guy. I used the TSA strategy of responding to questions with a vague answer and a question of my own. The guy was a nice guy, also happened to be a military guardsman or reservist (didn't stick around to figure out which). No issues.
This also identified some strange cameras we'd seen elsewhere on the highway. Earlier on the day in the median we'd noticed a plain white unmarked trailer with a bank of cameras pointing at the road. The checkpoint had an identical set of cameras. I wonder if they are just being monitored or if they have license plate tracking technology.
I did a bit of research and found that this sort of temporary detention and questioning is totally legit. No RAS or PC is required to send you to a secondary detention area for more questioning either. They are allowed within 100 aerial miles of the border.
It was definitely a weird, Kafka-esque moment to be stopped at a permanent checkpoint inside the country, though. I can't imagine what message this sends to Americans living south of the border: has the border patrol just given up on actually enforcing the real border? How does cracking down on legitimate traffic inside the US improve security on a porous border? Is the war on drugs really worth detaining Americans regularly at a police checkpoint? If you live to the South of the checkpoint I can imagine that you'd feel like the government has given up on you, just moving the border 100 miles north, and treating you with suspicion.
Even though this has nothing to do with TSA, I figured as it falls into the "desensitizing Americans to deal with searches/seizures/detentions/questioning without any PC or RAS" category much like TSA.
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