The questions that follow are about my nerve-wracking entry into
1. When my license plate was photographed, did their computer show the name my pickup is registered in?
Every license plate is read and the vehicle’s crossing is logged each time you cross. However, the registration information is generated on only about 10% of vehicles at MOST. Myself and a few of the officers I work with have asked why this is the case and we've been told it has to do with the county/state the vehicle is registered in. Some counties report the registration information, some don't. From what I've seen, it's VERY hit-or-miss with what places do and what places don't. There's really no rhyme or reason to it.
2. Did the Canadians keep a copy of the hard drives on both my laptops, along with the files on my flash drives?
According to policy, no copy of the hard drive is allowed to be made. BSI (border search of information) is VERY regulated and we are only allowed to look at what is on the PC's, that's it. If something was to be found (i.e. child pornography, etc), then a case would be opened on you and all related evidence (the laptop in this case) would be seized and turned over to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) for prosecution. That would be the only time a copy would be kept and that copy would be the actual PC. In short, no, no copies are ever made. [John refers primarily to US policy here, but it appears to be similar in
3. Will the Canadians report a search like this to US Customs so one can be flagged when crossing back into the States?
The above answers eased my worries about what had happened while my computers and flash drives were out of my sight, but now I had more questions about border crossings in general:
LICENSE PLATE: When I come into the US from Canada, does your computer show how many times this car has come through? If so, over what period of time?
Yes, but only if the Officer decides to actually look at that information; it isn't presented unless solicited by him/her. As for the time period, sorry to tell you but it's forever. From the first day records started being taken until now and so on. I've seen crossing histories (which DO include international flights) as old as 20 years or so.
PASSPORT: Even though I travel with different vehicles, will the computer show how many times I have personally come through?
Yes, but just as with your vehicles, the information has to be solicited by the Officer in order to be viewed (which only takes a matter of seconds). As for the crossing history, the same applies here just as it does with vehicles... it's forever.
LIARS: On page 253 of HTBI, I mention an inspector who claimed he could spot a liar in 5 seconds. Was that hyperbole? What's your opinion on old-timers being able to spot a liar? (I would think that a few get through.)
This one is an interesting question. In short, yes, it's completely possible. After having worked at many ports of entry myself and having been in the service for a few years now I am able to pick out a lie pretty quickly. I talk to probably 150 people a day on average so over time it's almost impossible to not pick up a thing or two when someone's lying. Not to say I'm a 100% every time because I know that would just be foolish to think. Of all the Officers I've worked with, probably 50% of them (that being the percentage of them that actually care about what they're doing and are half-way serious about their job) could probably pick out a lie easily within the first 2 or 3 questions with no problem at all. I've even worked with a few guys that could tell you whether a person was admissible to the
CARRYING CASH: I often travel with up to five thousand dollars in cash. Might this in itself raise any red flags?
As for leaving the country with cash, that's more reliant upon the location and what the "norm" is I would say. Where I am, I would think nothing of it nor would any of the Officers I work with, it's just too common. Even cash in the 10's of thousands really isn't a big deal. We have tons of farmers here and enough dual-citizens that worrying about lots of cash isn't an issue because it's just too common a thing. That said, anytime cash or any other "negotiable monetary instrument" in excess of $10k enters or leaves the country it has to be reported and recorded. That would warrant a secondary exam but only due to the paper work involved. N
othing more unless foul play is suspected.
At a larger or more "city-oriented" Port, the cash might be more of a concern, especially the closer to
To answer your question in short, though, no, someone wouldn't get sent to secondary based on that quantity of cash alone. The cash in conjunction to something else might ring a bell in an Officers mind whereas one of the two items alone might not have.
PASSWORDS: What would happen if I had a laptop with me and I refused to give the password? Would I be arrested? Would my name be flagged for any future visit?
I spoke to Canadian Customs tonight. They told me that if someone was to refuse to turn over passwords then the computer would just be seized and sent to
As for the flagging of the traveler, that would be completely up to the Officer at the time of the initial secondary inspection. The lady I spoke with tonight said that she might log something like that but as for flagging the traveler for the next time they came into
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Okay, readers, that’s it for now on Canadian border problems. However, if you have any experiences to relate, by all means post them here as a comment.
NEXT WEEK: What should a young woman do when police bang on her window and scream for her to open the door? (A true horror story that just happened in western