My Detainment Story or: How I learned to Stop Feeling Safe in My Own Country and Hate Border Agents*

Friday, September 20, 2013


[Update: Josh Neufeld has made a really great comic inspired by this piece: Crossing the Line. You can see a panel below, and read the whole thing on The Nib.]

Earlier this month, OTM producer Sarah Abdurrahman, her family, and her friends were detained for hours by US Customs and Border Protection on their way home from Canada. Everyone being held was a US citizen, and no one received an explanation. Sarah tells the story of their detainment, and her difficulty getting any answers from one of the least transparent agencies in the country.

 [Hi folks. This piece has been getting a lot of traffic, so we wanted to direct you to more of Sarah's enormously good reporting if you're interested. A nice place to start is her firsthand account of what it was like to coordinate information for anti-Gaddafi rebels, or her profile last month of the newly launched Al-Jazeera America. Or you can just go here for all of her OTM appearances.]

*The original title for this story referred to Border Patrol. While Border Patrol is a unit within the US Customs and Border Protection agency, the story is about CBP. The title was changed to reflect a more accurate description of the accompanying story.


Khaled Ahmed, Sofyan Amry, Catherine Crump, Abdulla Darrat, Alaa Elharezi, Munia Jabbar, Ahmad Kadura, James Lyall and Richard Misztal

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Produced by:

Sarah Abdurrahman

Comments [117]

Drew from New York

I know this is probably pretty old but I just encountered the same incident coming from Canada back into the USA using one of the entry points into northern New York. Except this time it was probably racially motivated as their were 6 middle aged white females in the vehicle and I was the only black guy in the front seat. We're all US citizens, we got pulled over---poor lady had her 6 year old kid sleeping and was forced to wake him up and bring him. The CBP looked at me and looked at my passport, type something in and started laughing and I was like WTF. They kept us therefore for an unnecessary length of time. I felt like a prisoner in my own country. WTF is actually going on in the USA? This was not only an embarrassing incident but it calls into questions those so-called conspiracy theorists who have been decrying the end of democracy in this country- the scary thing is that for the first time I believe they may be correct. Unwarranted detention without explanation or reason? Yup, sounds like birth pangs of totalitarianism to me.... In any case I submitted a complaint to Homeland Security, doubt I

Oct. 26 2015 11:03 AM
Butters from South Park

Obama and his minions are out of control. Impeach Obamaclown!

Jul. 23 2014 08:46 PM

My entire family are US citizens, and never had a problem entering Canada. The problem is returning to the US. The last time we were returning from visiting my relatives in Toronto, we were detained at the Detroit border by US homeland security and questioned. The agents were very rude and arrogant. They told us to get out of the car, and go into the building where they locked us up in some kind of holding room. None of us have ever been subjects of a criminal investigation, but we sure felt like we were treated as dangerous criminals. They refused to answer and question, but stated that they did not have to give an explanation, and that they had a right to. There should be an explanation as to why they locked us up for hours, including my young daughter and cousin. We all had our US passports, none of us have a criminal history, we are hard working taxpayers, yet we were treated like common criminals. When they decided to let us go after almost 4 hours, my car was totally ransacked. My car was 1 year old, and they had ripped the bottom cover from my car (I think it is a splash guard) that protect the bottom of the car. It was dragging as we drove off, and I had to stop and take it off completely. My husband arrived late at work, and I was not able to go to work that day. In addition, the two children were traumatized, and kept telling everyone that we were locked up by the police and that they were very scared. To date, no explanation was given. Where is our right to free passage as written on our passports? Does those rights only pertain to other countries security at border crossings? How is it right that US citizens are prevented from re-entering their country freely? Even criminals are told why they are being arrested and given the right to representation. Yet, we were not even given the right to make a phone call, as they kept all our belongings including cellphones in the car. We were sent inside, and did not see when they searched my car, but it was a total mess when we returned to it.

Jun. 21 2014 06:23 PM

I always get harassed only when I enter the US specially at US side of the border from Toronto. I am a US citizen and have zero criminal record.

The last time I drove from Toronto to Buffalo with my wife and my baby, I showed my US passport card, wife's permanent resident card and baby's citizenship document, We were asked why we didn't have same names, we were asked when and how we first came to US, I as a US national was even asked why I didn't have alien residency card. I even showed him my US passport book and he still kept asking us questions that has zero to do with protecting the country and all to do with our look and race and national origin. Finally condescendingly asked us to " SHUT THE ENGINE, GIVE THE KEY AND OPEN THE TRUNK" He searched and eventually let go, I had to get to buffalo airport and it was getting dark in the evening and I had my wife and 3 months old baby. I simply asked his name and drove off.
This is not the only time they harassed me.

Even when i travel alone, they ask me my citizenship even after I showed them my US passport and gives me ugly and bullying look.

These mistreatment only happens when you enter the US side. Even when i arrive back home in US from international flight, the immigration officer asks me why and how long I visited. I noticed other US citizen who were not asian like me were not asked these nonsense question.
Sadly if you are a minority and even if you are a US citizen, you get treated like unworthy, useless human beings by these evil immigration/border patrol agents.

May. 19 2014 01:05 AM
lockport person from internet

lockport person. first post. let me guess you have dark hair. and your need for video is for your terrorist friends back home. via mail . cus if you think you are in white blonde country your wrong.and if this car searchat a border surprises you you obviously just terrorist flew a hijaked plane here.and last post. i dont know where you think you are eaither but vote.... thats hillarous.joshua northey.... exactly.... leave.
if you wanna muslim protest, this religion comes from another country... why are you NOT there? where all these ideas of no security come from, you dont want security go back there. the idea comes from somewhere. if you turn it into what you left from it becomes just as bad. if you really wanted that youd go home to whatever it is.

May. 05 2014 11:04 AM
samantha from lockport,ny

My husband went to Canada to see a friend in the hospital,stayed two hours then went to come back home.He got to the Rainbow Bridge and how be damn.He was asked to show his license,so he showed his enhanced license.Then he was told to give the guy his key car key.So my husband takes out the car key,mean while 2 boarder patrol come out of no where then two more from behind the car,They have my husband step out of the car and they put hand cuffs on him.He asked why he was being detained, the guy replied for our safety and yours. Ok so now hes in hand cuffs and my car gets driven over to side of the road by another boarder patrol.They open all doors the trunk and search it.Mean while my husbands in cuffs gets taken into a booth and questioned. How many guns do you own ,do you what kind of trapping do you do. Ok an hour long of questions, then was told he was 'free to go'. My husband gets home tells me this crazy story.I go to leave to head to the store to get into my car to see it torn apart.My child's car seat undone tossed across the other side of the back seat,papers thrown around,they even took my car air freshener out of the heater and threw it on the floor. This has me pissed off that that can detain my husband,and trash my belongings. I sure wish i was with him to record all this nonsense. Guess we need to take the next 'trip' together. What were these assholes thinking? You cant get an enhanced licenses with a felony or any warrants so what the hell were they thinking? oh and he was 'free' to go an hour later.No tickets no nothing.Just so everyone is aware to take a partner to video and show to the world that there are boarder patrols who take our rights away from us....hope to see them again soon

May. 04 2014 11:48 PM
sam hoffman from Long Island, NY

In the story about the woman who whose rights as well as her body were violated by the border patrol in ways too numerous to mention, the most eggregious of these violations were by the medical community. Why haven't the medical centers as well as the involved medical personnel been punished?
If I, a physician, did these procedures without consent I would be brought up on criminal battery charges. I would also permanently lose my license and surely lose the associated malpractice cases. The out-patient center or hospital would also lose their state license and be closed as well as being suject to crippling monetary damages.

Where is the American Trial Bar when we need them?

Apr. 04 2014 02:46 PM
brittany lindon from Marshall VA

it is just violating our U.S. citizen and human rights bad and unneeded i am doing a report on it based on this story and they should tell you that you did not pay a ticket from 2006 let you pay it and be done

Mar. 03 2014 05:19 PM
Lenni Benson from New York

I thought On the Media community might be glad to know that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals preserved a civil rights law suit for people who sued the Border Patrol based on "racial profiling." The case can be found at this link:

While bringing a civil rights action is difficult, it is a remedy that individuals can pursue who have been unlawfully detained.

I teach U.S. immigration law and used this story in my course this year to help remind the students that citizens as well as non-citizens can have difficulty during the inspections procedures.

Dec. 20 2013 05:00 PM
naomi grether

my mom told me stories of Apache coworkers who had trouble getting across the border from Mexico - the US has weird ways of deciding who is a threat that seems more based on appearance and stereotypes than facts or real criteria - naomi

Dec. 07 2013 08:17 PM

Bobby from New York and Mark from Texas, you must be of the caliber of sick f**s that the CBP is looking to join its ranks. Either that or you are CBP trolling on this site. I suppose you also think it was okay when these goons terrorized a FOUR YEAR OLD CHILD trying to return to her family in the US. If you think this behavior is acceptable, then please leave the USA ASAP because you are in the minority. Have a shitty day.

Nov. 12 2013 04:14 PM
derek from round lake, il

Facebook/Twitter or other social media vent machine for chattering classes to make you feel empowered and important. You think otherwise,good luck? I think OTM knows better than this. The bizarre Hamilton interview is an expose of sheer cynicism at best , taking the people who have no clue about beltway dynamics for complete fools, at worst. There is no benefit of doubt in this case as even OTM producers are not that stupid and incompetent.

Oct. 27 2013 06:41 PM
derek from Round Lake, IL

The treatment that Ms Abdurrahman's family and friends got is abhorrent and outrageous. However, I take issue with Ms Abdurrahman's repeated commentary that it happened to her and her family and friends as US citizens. The DHS "welcoming treatment" is demeaning and unacceptable to all human beings regardless of place of birth or nationality and has no place in modern, democratic society, PERIOD. Tirelessly insisting that it happened to US citizens is supposed to present what point exactly? That it might acceptable to people of other nationalities or other places of birth? The story got its legs after OTM's own producer got the treatment and it went from there. Fair enough. However, how about other elephants in the room aka FAQ that nobody answers: treatment of foreign nationals by US State Dept where people who are applying for visa to visit the US are paying at least $160 for a pleasure of interview. In another words if you get no visa, kiss your cash good bye. It is really insidious especially when in many places the fee required here is equivalent of week's wages. "Give us your ol' and tired masses" as nonrefundable rip-off racket? This type of practice is considered consumer fraud in all states' Atty General jurisdictions but apparently it is all fine and dandy when wrapped in patriotic flag and practiced on American soil overseas.
Also I am very surprised in lame interviews with two journalists who moan, huff and puff about not getting responses from DHS and border control officials that prevent them to do their jobs. Why is there no analysis and a little deeper thought on how this type of operative silence, manipulation and media gaming squares in with characteristics of democratic society? Can the passport chip embedded freedom of movement reinforced by NSA super duper surveillance and GPS/algorithm watch be referenced as classical/modern DEMOS in any way, shape and form? After my own experiences of dealing with border officials in ex-Communist block or even on Berlin's famous Alexander Platz border crossing before 1989, I don't think so. What is taking place right now at the US borders can be described by three words: NEW AND IMPROVED.
So why don't we connect the dots and call spade a spade, shall we?
In that context, Sen. Hamilton's advice to us all that we should call our Congressman/woman to complain and get redress shows either the man's own disconnect or complete and utter incompetence. (FYI, it only takes one look at Hamilton's "fine work" on Iraq and where this all lead to: absolutely nowhere as the report was not even worth the paper printed on it). In "representative democracy" as quoting Hamilton and updated to 2013 AD version, the lawmakers are accountable to political donor class aka stakeholders aka special interests and not some amorphous mob of concerned citizens trying to apply pressure to get their voices heard.

Oct. 27 2013 06:39 PM
Bobby from New york

Gooe for you Sarah I'm glad the agents checked you out and did their job sorry for the inconvenience but I support you being investigated on every border crossing and your family and friends too

Oct. 20 2013 02:12 PM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Reading some of the comments here (and the incident itself), I can't help but think of some programmes: (looks at what the infamous Stanford Prison experiment teaches us about abuse of authority) (looks at how an innocent taxi driver ended up being killed by US troops)

If you can get hold of a legal copy of it, I would recommend watching the BBC documentary "Five Steps to Tyranny". It looks at the results of several psychological experiments, and testimony from people who were in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, to show just how easy it is to turn a democracy into a dictatorship.

Oct. 19 2013 06:05 AM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Sorry, that should be "said that he is stopped"...

Oct. 19 2013 05:38 AM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

In an interview with an interview with the Today pogramme ( on Tuesday, Mo Farah, a (non-white) British Olympian, he gets stopped and searched by officers every time he visits the US.

Oct. 19 2013 05:32 AM
Rick Slama

Why are we worried about al Qaeda and the Taliban when our own government is out there doing the hard work of radicalizing Muslims? And not just that, they're giving a legitimate reason to be radicalized! After all, if you are constantly treated like a criminal, you can quickly lose your reasons for not being one. Disenfranchised people have turned to violence to get their way many times before.

Oct. 09 2013 12:12 PM
Welcome to Steroid Thugland

Horrible -- BUT.

I had the recent shocking experience of observing a house fire in Somerset Cnty, NJ, in a still-rural, wealthy unincorporated area located within a larger wealthy Township, very small town vibe.

The small electrical fire took place in the home of an American-born/European descent leading and well-known local citizen and professional and his wife, same profile but Asian descent. Beautiful home, gentle & soft spoken couple. The firehouse is the closest building -- yet it took 21 minutes to show up, by which time the fire was pretty much out (the police also took 21 minutes after the 911 call). The owners were impressively calm, having just put the fire out themselves.

However, when the wife implied to the police officer that this now very large group of men with axes and hoses parading into her home should have gotten there earlier, the police officer pretty much erupted into a rage at the woman half or a third his size.

Eyes flashing, he put his hand on his gun "what... did ...just.. say?" My first thought was, this person is addicted to confrontation and violence the way a vampire needs blood, and he is craving it at this very moment. (The lights?)

I suggested that the woman leave the scene -- fast -- which she did. (She drove off and did errands).

This police officer obviously was obviously mentally imbalanced, I'm guessing because of steroid use but who knows -- for whatever the reason, I doubt the taxpayers writing his check would be super impressed to know they are paying for.

My point is that as awful as this situation is, it is easy for me to imagine an entire layer of our society -- law "enforcement" -- is addled by steroids, seeking conflict and finding it even with the gentlest of taxpaying citizens who only require the wisdom, competence and superb judgement -- and protection -- of a well-trained civil servant. Instead, it's their turn to meet The Thug.

The Thug listening to this story may come away with a lesson, only one: make journalists carry licenses so long as any remain, so they can be identified and receive treatment that won't prompt any phone calls to the Cop PR department. Otherwise, the general citizen (such as myself), without any professional local or regional reporters to turn to, or genuine law enforcement agents, is relegated to ranting on the internet, into the ether...

Oct. 05 2013 09:40 AM

Yes, that is a bit of nuisance but you can't really complain too much about it, Sarah. At least you were not shot at by a border patrol agent.

There have been a few instances where Mexican nationals that live close to the border are killed by US border agents from the US side of the border. The agent fires from the US side, the bullet crosses the border, and hits a Mexican national in Mexico. The guy dies as a result. Good luck trying to get some answers from the border patrol after that. The family of the diseased gets stuck in a legal limbo because of the cross border nature of the incident. It is often the case that the border patrol may issue a short notice claiming that they fired because people were throwing stones at the them from the Mexican side. But at least in one occasion, there is video footage shot by a bystander clearly showing that the officer who fired the gun was in no way being threatened.

So yes Sarah.... perhaps it was a bit of a nuisance for you to be stopped at the border but your US passport at least gave you the right not to be shot at by the agent. So you shouldn't really be complaining too much about it.

Oct. 03 2013 09:29 AM
Jey from NY

Sarah, thanks for bringing this issue out. I have been subjected to this harassment every time I travel for the past 6 yrs. I cannot check in on line for any flights and at the counter it takes 20 to 30 minutes to get clearance to issue me a boarding pass. At the security I am always subjected to secondary "pat down". Even checking in abroad on return flights to US they have to call US Immigration and Boarder Patrol to get clearance to issue me boarding pass. Recently returning from South Africa, though my wife and I were at the airport 3 hours ahead of time they couldn't get clearance in time and as a result we missed the flight and ended up flying the next day.

The reception I get on arrival at the airport from abroad is a nightmare. On every arrival on international flights, there are always two homeland security personals waiting for me as I get out of the plane. They take me separately, question me at length (almost always the same questions and same answers), thorough search of my luggage by pulling out everything in the bag and then I am detained for anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. On my recent 15 hours flight from South Africa, at the JFK airport we were detained for 3 1/2 hours. The chairs were metal and uncomfortable and when I tried to stand to stretch my legs I was ordered by one of the officers to sit down. I tried to explain to the officer that I was in the flight for 15 hours and that sitting in the uncomfortable metal chair I needed to stretch my legs but it didn't matter. He shouted at me and again ordered me to sit down. Few months ago driving back from Canada at the Buffalo border our family was detained for 2 1/2 hours. I asked the officers as to why we are detained, we are US citizens and are they going to send us out of the country, to where? to which his answer was because we are US citizens we cannot be denied entry - you have all our information and you know how to get hold of us, so after questioning and checking our belongings why are we being detained - to which they have no answer.

Another thing that didn't make sense to me was - while I was waiting I noticed there were other passengers who were foreign nationals brought in and after questioning almost every one of them were released within 30 minutes to at the most 45 minutes.

All this is happening after my complaint to Homeland Security and their issuing me a so called "Redress Number".
I have already written to my Senator and waiting to see whether anything will come out of it and I am also forwarding this link.

Oct. 02 2013 11:27 PM
Miles Beardsley C. from Excelsior

Terrible, tragic abuses of our liberties revealed in this piece. Our liberties as US citizens (and as world travelers) begin with respect for each individual and the rule of law. I am aware that the details about Muslim appearance and headscarves, and strange sounding names might give some people an inkling of justification for abuses in the light of the media-driven culture wars in this country. Certainly the Patriot Act in all its reflex-driven fervor creates an illusion of justification for abuses of civil rights. But border patrols personnel have no extra-judicial authority regarding search and seizure, especially with no apparent probable cause. This isn't about Muslims. It's about American arrogance and the willingness of our leaders to look the other way when certain people are mistreated in these ways. Many people suffer from corrupt authorities all over the world. I've been harrassed and hassled at the Canadian border by Canadian authorities, detained, made to miss connecting flights, and generally disrespected -- and with a WASP-ish name and appearance,from Connecticut and Minnesota. So my point is that when anyone is denied civil rights, it can happen to any one of us. Conversely, I've breezed by borders, entered country clubs without a hitch, and been granted every courtesy possible because my identity seems to be beyond suspicion. I've seen both sides. Good luck to the ACLU; I shall donate some more to that organization, hoping it makes a difference. It is something I can do.

Oct. 02 2013 01:33 PM
Sam Vimes

One one trip back into the US from Reynosa, Mexico, in which I was travelling in a vehicle with both Mexican Nationals and two Puerto Rican citizens, I was detained and all my baggage dragged out of the vehicle. The BP agent simply begin throwing clothes, blankets, a few purchases all over the asphalt. When I complained about how my possessions were being treated, I was forced against the vehicle, handcuff and told that I could "stand there and shut up until we finish with you... assuming we DO finish with you, since you left your rights behind when you entered Mexico and you do NOT get them back until I Say that you get them back and let you across..." About an hour later the "Gestapo" seemed to lose interest in the mess my belongings had made, removed my handcuffs and told me I had about a "minute to get your sh!t up off the ground and gone.

Needless to say, several letters written after I arrived back home went completely unanswered. (Unless I'm still on a database just waiting for my next trip abroad to the south?) It's the problem we get with minimally educated people are given more authority than they either should have or can handle appropriately... And it's not going away anytime soon - the TSA screeners at any airport are living proof of that...

Oct. 01 2013 11:30 PM

I have no idea whether larger events compelled the border agents to detain these Americans. What I DO know is that they are US citizens, deserving of answers and most important, respect and courtesy. I cannot imagine how angry I would get if I spent a few minutes contemplating the fact that my tax dollars pay the salaries of people who treated me like dirt. That simple courtesy was denied our own citizens makes me deeply suspicious of the motivations of these folks.

(Having said that, I - a white woman who is stupidly friendly - was pulled over a couple years ago FOR WAVING HELLO to an LA Sheriff not more than 100 yards from my home in a SoCal canyon. He kept me sitting there for almost an hour without explanation. When I asked what I had done, he told me to turn off my radio and not say one more word unless I wanted to be considered a threat. So I sat there. Finally, he walked over and said I could leave. He literally turned his back to me as I asked him to understand why he pulled me over. I called several officials when I got home but I never received an answer. What I'm trying to say is that these agencies seem to enjoy mistreating much larger swathes of the country than one ethnic group. They attract people with the absolute wrong psychological profiles for the job.)

Sep. 30 2013 04:06 PM

The practices of the CBP described in this segment, and the administrative opacity surrounding the agency's operations, are appalling. Yes, there's a need to secure the borders ... but while being challenged or detained doesn't have to be a pleasant experience, it's incomprehensible that US citizens can't be treated with respect and some semblance of decency by the very people whose salaries they pay.

I feel deeply the helplessness and anger of the Abdurrahman family, and have come away with two prevailing thoughts: First, that officials who do this regularly (if not daily) to blameless fellow citizens cannot be of healthy mind, and must suffer from underlying pathologies as should exclude them from positions of authority. A normal person would have enough empathy to prevent them from treating others in this way.

Second, it seems that if a nation wanted to actively promote subversive and even violent activity, then the CBP practices described here -- of routinely treating innocent citizens so badly as to fill them with fear, doubt and rage -- would be a fine start. If continued, we won't need to prevent terrorists from entering the country ... because we'll have created them at home.

Sep. 30 2013 01:33 PM

Few of the apologist of this government behavior seem to ignore or forget what had happened during War World II.
Japanese Americans were in imprisoned while Italian Americans and German American's were not. Picking out people because they are easy targets because of their appearance is NOT alright nor should the actions be easily dismissed.

Sep. 30 2013 08:00 AM
Andrew McLean

Americans are the new Palestinians. Israel has been using these tactics against Palestinians for decades. The humiliation and uncertainty these tactics induce in detainees is not coincidental, it is intentional.

Sep. 30 2013 04:49 AM

Um, so border guards in Niagara and Detroit just happened to detain guests of the same wedding...among the thousands of people that came through that day? Doesn't sound random to me. Sounds to me that there was some reason that they got pulled, and it sounds like they were not terribly cooperative because they think no one has a right to question them. If you travel enough, you're going to get pulled for secondary sooner or later, deal with it.

Also, I've been through the Detroit crossing, and if know those guys can be unusually annoying, but as long as a minority of Muslims continue to support terrorists groups, there are going to be a ton of innocent people pulled in to questioning because they are in some way--wittingly or not--connected to people that wish to do harm to others. It's too bad that Christians Buddhists and Atheists aren't committing more terrorist attacks so that CBP could be more "fair" in who they pull aside, but until that happens Muslims are going to get more attention, sorry.

Sep. 29 2013 04:24 PM
Gloria Rohlfs

When I hear about people being interrogated at the border or stopped for how they look - supposedly because of terrorism - I wonder why this never happened to white guys with short hair after Timothy McVeigh was convicted in the Oklahoma City bombing. White guys have perpetrated a lot of violence in this country.

Sep. 29 2013 12:12 PM
N. from NJ

I wrote a version of the following message to my Senators and Representative. I think it's a good place to start to affect change. At the end of the note I included links to the two stories, about Terry Bressi and Sarah Abdurrahman.

-- I'm writing regarding the Customs and Border Patrol agency after hearing the outrageous practices witnessed/experienced by public radio reporter, Sarah Abdurrahman and her traveling group, at the U.S.-Canada border. Lack of transparency and accountability in such a massive agency and by agents with such power is simply un-American.

Please begin a process of compelling these agencies under Homeland Security to have transparency and accountability and have clear and observed guidelines for the both the agencies and for citizens to know what their rights are to prevent ever mounting abuses.

I look forward to staying aware of what you're position is on this topic and what actions you will take to address this growing problem. I would appreciate a response to this message. --

Sep. 29 2013 11:31 AM

Diane from NYC expressed my views well and I applaud her. PBS pandering to the Muslim community gives Sarah Abdurrahman and her family a free pass to 'victimhood' and we learn nothing about what links they may have with militant elements that wish to do us harm. To run your story on the very day that the atrocities began in Nairobi, Kenya is to ignore reality. And not to acknowledge the very real problem of Muslim extremism that we all need to confront is 'ostrich-like-burying-ones-head-in-the-sand.'

Sep. 29 2013 09:05 AM

This really opened my eyes to what is going on and changed my mind to what I though was "good". I started listening thinking we need some of this to be safe. That profiling is a common sense way to catch terrorists. What got me most of all they sound like a family just like mine. There has to be a better way.
Despite where one stands on border protection everyone should agree they need real oversight. A much more sensitive way to go about. Real accountability to complaints and open rules policy.

Sep. 28 2013 11:21 AM
Robert Boynton

This piece left me shaking with anger. I'm so embarrassed for our country. Here we are, twelve years after 9/11, and we're still treating some citizens this way? The immediate, post-9/11 hysteria was awful, but understandable. But now? In 2013? I fear the hysteria has been baked into the system.

Sep. 28 2013 08:49 AM
steve from sacramento, CA

You are far more likely to be killed by a police officer then by a terrorist. *Never* trust a cop!

Sep. 28 2013 03:06 AM
Chris Stone from New York

I found this story very chilling. It is part, in my mind, of the Israelification of security in the US. Perhaps it will make Ms. Abdurrahman think twice about working for a program that, in my view, has a clear pro-Israeli bias and may contribute to the normalization of said Israelification.

Sep. 27 2013 02:04 PM

Trey Bien of California writes: "We don't live in a utopia, or a dystopia, we live in fear, both real and imagined."

Speak for yourself.

Those of us who prefer to be guided by the rational parts of our brains and not the lizard parts don't live in fear. We live in reality. And reality includes risk. You're more likely -- far more likely -- to be killed in a car accident than to be the victim of a terrorist attack. Over 35,000 traffic fatalities in this country every year. How many 9/11s is that??

Americans are pathetic. Willing to give up their civil liberties at the drop of hat and to countenance other people being abused, all because of the irrational fear that there's A Terrorist hiding around every corner.

Sep. 27 2013 06:15 AM
Trey Bien from California

My heart goes out to Sarah, her friends and family and I'm sorry for the anxiety and discomfort they must have felt. However, I am disappointed in Brooke, who I love, but who certainly seemed more like a biased and sympathic colleague than an unbiased reporter. Sarah claims to call officials as an investigative reporter to find out if how they were treated was sanctioned or probibited, yet she also claims to be the victim of harassment by the officials's agency. You can't be the victim of harassment and a neutral reporter on that all alleged abuse.

And, to state the painful obvious, and I know you abhor hearing it, unfortunately people who look like the passengers in those cars have repeatedly in the past, and will continue to in the future, engage in acts of terrorism against Americans. The sad reality is that innocent people get detained and have their phones convescated for hours. People were treated rudely and disrespected and for that an apology is owed.

However, Who wants to be the security official who fails to,detain a terrorist who kills dozens, hundreds, or thousands of Americans?

I know I'm offending many of your listener's sensibilities but there are realities people seem willing to ignore. We don't live in a utopia, or a dystopia, we live in fear, both real and imagined.

Sep. 26 2013 11:26 PM
John E Foddrill sr from san antonio TX

On July 4 – Independence Day- Armed cops rousted my wife and I from our beds in the middle of the night because we publicly objected to public/police corruption……..Gestapo tactics !

Three decades of public/police corruption and the ONGOING criminal conspiracy exposed…. San Antonio TX Mayor Julian Castro, Councilperson Diego Bernal, SAPD Chief McManus, city attorney Bernard, Councilperson Cris Medina, City Manager Sheryl Sculley, city auditor Kevin Barthold, IT Director Hugh Miller, etc. will be under investigation very soon !

NEWS ALERT: I spoke on the Doc Greene Show ( for almost an hour on Sept 26th.

My discussion concerning San Antonio TX begins in the second half of the recording at the 1:00 time mark. We discussed the NDO, Recall Efforts , Open Carry violations, public/police corruption, the pending federal Free Speech / Freedom of Assembly lawsuit hearing tomorrow at 1:30 pm at the Federal Courthouse – 655 E Cesar Chavez Blvd SA TX - naming Mayor Castro ( Obama campaign co-manager), city attorney Bernard ( brother of White House Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard) , SAPD Chief McManus and the fact that Councilperson Diego M Bernal and others actively participated in the RICO-like criminal conspiracy to violate the US Constitution and conceal decades of fraud/theft impacting public safety/911. Download Doc Greene’s program:

Sep. 26 2013 08:27 PM
Darryl from San Francisco

This is nothing new. As a musician who's travelled multiple times between the Canada/US border I've rarely had a pleasant experience. I've been stopped by the Canadian border patrol and had my car searched, but the Canadians were in general polite and business-like. The US crossing (my home country) is always worse. The guards are often surly and far more discourteous in these post-911 times than they were pre-911 and they weren't great then. Being treated as a criminal when returning to one's own country is awful. I'm white btw. By contrast when stopped by machine-gun wielding police in Spain on a lonely highway in the north of the country, we were treated with respect. We had screwed up at a toll, not knowing the money very well and I suppose we looked suspicious being musicians with equipment crowded into a dirty van. The cops stopped us and of course we couldn't speak Spanish well and they couldn't speak English well either. They opened up the van, saw the instruments and said "Oh you are musicians!" with big smiles. They asked where we were playing and sent us on our way. Good luck that happening in the US.

Sep. 26 2013 01:48 PM
Phil Hirschkorn from New York

FYI....Related to this story:

In 2007, the CBS EVENING NEWS reported on Arab-Americans subjected to a seeming "No Drive List" when they crossed the border from Canada:

In 2011, the CBS EVENING NEWS reported on litigation stemming from border device searches:

Sep. 26 2013 11:45 AM
muhammad din

people have been mistreating me for the last many,many years. now things are really got worse. they videoing tape and listen to my hosue and business every day, and spread arround my personal life all over the town. I cannot tell and explain what they done and doing. I told law authorties many times, please help, they do not help me. where ever i go, mistreated. I cannot explain, what they are doing. I need help, please help.

Sep. 26 2013 11:38 AM
Lisa Simeone from Baltimore, MD

CBP, like the TSA, like so many cops, are thugs in uniform. We have no rule of law in this country anymore. But people don't want to admit it. The United Sheeple of America continue to snuffle along, their snouts stuffed into the grass.

Sep. 26 2013 10:18 AM
Stephanie from Joplin, MO

I am so glad you brought this to light.

I have driven truck for 33 years, some loads going into Canada. Very seldom has crossing back to the U.S. been pleasant. It seems we are assumed to be criminals, and are treated like second class citizens. I was like you, I felt like nothing bad could happen to me, after all, I am a US citizen. Also white, female, without even a parking ticket. The night they told me to stand outside my truck while they searched it was the last straw...This truck is my home away from home for 285 days a year, with clean carpets on the floor, and cleam sheets on the bed. Not after they got done.

When our company gave us the option to no longer go to Canada, in 2008, I opted out....I was tired of being treated badly.

Sep. 26 2013 08:32 AM
Jim Huggins from Flint, MI

I'm sorry that y'all had to go through this. ("Sorry" is a wholly inadequate word, but it's all I've got.)

I'm really curious to know, though ... now that this story has been aired on many NPR stations (and subsequently gone viral), have you heard directly from CBP yet on your (and our) list of unanswered questions?

Sep. 25 2013 05:57 PM
Illinois Resident

Left this on my senator's contact page.

Subject: NPR story about detention at Niagara Falls

Dear Senator Durbin,

This NPR story depicts the disgusting treatment of U.S. citizens by their own government. All indications are that this is a wide spread problem for Customs and Border Protection. Please tell me what you are going to do about it.


Frank Hansen

p.s. Here is a link to the story online ...

Sep. 25 2013 04:38 PM
Ronnie S

Detention, not detainment.

Sep. 25 2013 03:48 PM

That final segment where Ms. Abdurrahman talks about her own naivete is a good showcase of the imperial assumption, that citizens of the empire will be exempt from treatment typical of non-citizens. This is in no way a criticism of her or her investigation, only a good example of a widespread cultural phenomenon that helps to explain the ways in which empire perpetuates itself internally without recourse to highly visible mechanisms of state violence. This is also one of the ways the U.S. empire will likely fall, as more and more citizens of the empire begin receiving the imperial treatment here in the homeland.

Sep. 25 2013 03:17 PM
ForVicotry from NY

After a nice weekend at Niagara Falls, me and wife were detained at the port for about 2 1/2 hrs in mid August. We are both American citizens, in fact I work for one of the federal agencies. We don't usually travel internationally, so this was the first time we experienced something like this. We were also told to leave our cell phones behind. Like Sarrahs ordeal, we sat out in the icy cold area. When I questioned them what it was about...they replied by saying...we were picked 'randomly'. I don't know how to react that. "Randomly" !!!. Anyways, they went through my car, even made copies of my registration. Asked me about my prior trips, my relatives, and work.

How did I feel anyone in that situation would feel... Stressed, frustrated and humiliated. I felt like I was social outcast.

Sep. 25 2013 02:57 PM
Eric Mesa from Baltimore, MD

Well, eff driving to Canada! Never gonna ever do that in case someone confuses me for a bad guy.

Sep. 25 2013 01:17 PM
Raymond Setzer

What I'm not seeing in the comments is the realization that aside from being bureaucratic bullies, our Boarder Control people are pretty incompetent. Extended and pointless harassment is the least likely to succeed method for searching out terrorist activities. Are we to assume the the employees at the border are so astoundingly lacking in perception that they cannot, within a few minutes recognize an ordinary traveler? As an accountant, I've dealt with IRS agents more than once, and in every case, despite their obnoxious reputation, I've found that they are perceptive enough to know within a very short time whether there is any real dirt to dig for. But these guys really sound like a bunch of pissed off numpties.

Sep. 25 2013 12:15 PM
NadePaulKuciGravMcKi from the heartland

NPR still selling the 'official' September 2001 coverup

Sep. 25 2013 11:27 AM
Carl Pietrantonio

Please correct the headline or sub-head. The people AT the port of entry are NOT Border Patrol. They are Customs and Border Protection Officers.

Border Patrol, from which I am retired, is a separate part of DHS, and does not work at the ports of entry like the one that Sarah entereed the United States through.

I deplore the way she was treated but wish she was more careful in the titling of this story so as not to reflect badly on the wrong group of people in her case.

Fair reporting is just that, Fair. AND accurate.

Please, someone bring this to Sarah's attention so the story can be corrected.

Sep. 25 2013 11:08 AM

Sarah, your story, your husband's story and that of your other friends and loved ones that were harassed returning from Canada is horrible. It is a symptom of an insular, solipsist electorate that asks little of it's elected officials.

It may be of little consequence, but were you Latina near the Mexican border, you could have fared much worse

Sep. 24 2013 09:58 PM
George Jetson from California

First thing.

You were stopped for inspection at a "port of entry." Ports of Entry are manned by CBP Officers assigned to Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO). These same officers also work at international airports and sea ports.

U.S. Border Patrol "agents" work between the land ports of entry. They are assigned to another sub-agency within CBP, the Office of Border Patrol (OBP).

Do I agree with the way you were treated - no. Do I wonder why you could not tell the difference between the two federal agencies when you are a member of the media - yes.

I work for OBP. WE explain our processes when asked, including identifying ourselves when asked. I do not appreciate your lax attempts at placing blame for your situation at the hands of "Border Patrol."

You are a member of the media. Be a responsible media representative and check your facts.


Sep. 24 2013 06:15 PM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Diane from NYC,

You seem to think that only muslims are terrorists and/or that discrimination is fine.

On the first point: Don't forget that Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist. I find it hard to believe that, in a country the size of America, groups with his views don't still exist. In fact, I suspect that the whole "birther" movement would have made people like him feel supported.

I know that it *was* the case, and I *suspect it's still* the case, that in some states (in the US) Christian fundamentalists go round killing doctors who perform abortions. And whilst we're about it, let's not forget the events at Waco.

On the second point: considering one segment of society solely the responible for cime and/or bad events is the sort of thinking that would expect from someone like Hitler (or the corrupt police chief in Casablanca).

Another thing to consider is that the security services cannot protect the public without the co-operation of the minority communities. If people of those communities feel unfairly treated by the security services, then they are less likely to want to co-operate. After all, if your community feels that it's under attack then it creates an atmosphere of "them" and "us". The most effective way of getting co-operation is to get people to associate the security services as part of "us" in their minds.

You seem to think that just because muslim extremists support radical views, all muslim support radical views. The truth of the matter is that most people support mainstream (or close to mainstream) view.

Even if someone supported extreme views, that still would not justify treating them badly. Why should we reduce ourselves to their level?

Sep. 24 2013 04:49 PM
Stephen Voltz from Glouceseter, MA

Just sent the following to my senator, (Eliz. Warrant). Similar emails to your reps might be good:
- - -
Link below to a riveting and very important story from NPR's On the Media of what seems to be a pattern of outrageous conduct by U.S. Border Patrol. (Heads up: audio is about 20 minutes).

It's hard to imagine that Ms. Abdurrahman's family's wedding party was an exception. Far more likely that this kind of stuff is happening all of the time, and several personal experiences related in the comments strongly suggest this is so.

So many things that need to be addressed here, but the most immediate and achievable might be:

1. An immediate Congressional investigation into what appears to be widespread systematic mistreatment of travelers by USBP agents.

2. Clear and well publicized federal regulations governing:

how long travelers can be detained in the absence of probable cause
basic requirements for food, water, climate and other environmental (e.g., noise, fumes, etc. ) conditions for those detained
treatment, care and only if necessary , interrogation, of detained minors
a broad, but clear and enforceable requirement that USBP treat travelers with respect and dignity at all times

2. A system for USBP agent and supervisor accountability, including immediately available video and audio recording of all interactions between travelers and USBP.

3. A federal tort incorporating the above (so as to limit the application of a qualified immunity defense), providing for claims against any agent who violates a travelers rights to dignity and respect.


Sep. 24 2013 03:47 PM
Duarte from Portugal

What happened her is Fascism, pure and simple.

The US are building up to be the next big fascist communist country.

"Heil Obama" isn't far from happening.

Sep. 24 2013 12:00 PM
Al Dorman from Baltimore

It is famous that BP agents are scum. All of them.

Sep. 24 2013 11:40 AM
Glennn from Cambridge, MA USA

This story raised questions for me. Sarah Abdurrahman stated that she is from Texas. But where were the others originally from? Had they posted anti-American comments on the web or engaged in anti-American activities? Did they have their passports with them? If this was mentioned anywhere in the story I must have missed it. Was this information intentionally left out?

If they were American citizens they would have the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. But that doesn't mean they can't be stopped at the border as they attempt to re-enter the country. One of the Boston Marathon bombers had traveled outside the country. No one apparently questioned him upon his return.

It is unfortunate that the reporter and her family and friends were treated disrespectfully. But many people have encountered rude policemen and other law enforcement personnel in this country.

I definitely understand the reporter and her entourage's resentment at their mistreatment--especially if they had done nothing wrong. I just wanted to get the full story.

"Imagine no more countries. It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion too." John Lennon

Well, we're still living in a country and this is one of the consequences.

Sep. 24 2013 06:56 AM

I travel internationally a lot, and this sort of abuse at the border is becoming more commonplace and more widely accepted. I applaud OTM for addressing this issue; like all abuses of power, it thrives in darkness. History teaches us that when a country thinks it's exceptional -- when it thinks it's beyond the lessons of history -- it will fall. As long as we continue to think, like your kind-hearted producer, that this could never happen in America, it will continue to happen in America.

Sep. 24 2013 05:32 AM
Fotios from Athens,Greece

It is not only Muslims that are searched. But, it is Muslims who perpetrate terrorism acts. How do we select and locate them? We have to use our intelligence sources and hit the likely suspects and those suspects are among the Muslims. We can't wait until after the fact, instead we have to be a step ahead. We have to go where the source is. That way I feel protected even though I know that I have been stopped or will be stopped.

Sep. 24 2013 05:20 AM
CHANCE ADDISON from Spokane Valley, WA

This is the only time in 20 years I've ever felt it necessary to contradict publicly information I heard on NPR; Sarah said in her piece linked above she felt there was nothing we The People can do, and these are words I strongly protest, for I can provide a citation:

After re-siding my home with the photos shown on the website linked directly above I succeeded in earning a reprieve from the corruption otherwise rampant within the boarders of the City of Spokane*


Sep. 24 2013 12:41 AM
Tre from Bronx

Diane from NYC no one wants to hear your pampered white privledged behind complain "your right being violated as a non-Muslim". Its because of ignorant hicks such as yourselves that such civil liberties are allowed be violated as it is your kind that votes in hate mongering politicians that endorse such policies due to your emotional paranoia. Your people aren't intelligent enough to realize that 1.6 Billion people cannout be punished for the actions of a few and thus it was your kind that dragged us into Iraq to destroy milions of lives which were alread crippled due to economic sanctions. I was in boston this summer and every major mosque condemned the attack. Although your bible thumpers over at Faux news would never dare report, less they anger their bigot bible belt base. Thankfully the chickens will only come to roost for your kind as you are guaranteed to lose continously in each upcoming election. Every single day your numbers decrease as more and more racist old conservatives are carried into their miserable graves, no doubt destined for the hellfire. Your numbers will only continue to dwindle as the conservative base has no appeal to the young or minorities, leaving only the perishing old white folks so will only die day by day. The number of Muslims on the other hand only increases day by day. Time to come into the 21st Century and look forward to the 22nd Century. Islam is soon to be the worlds most popolous religion and modern day American conservatism is an almost extinct species on the globe. Deal with it or join your bitter old white brethren in staring helplessly into a future where they're an irrelevant minority

Sep. 23 2013 10:01 PM
Diane from NYC

Interesting that this piece was aired on a day when yet another terrorist attack was taking place in Nairobi. Hundreds are being killed or hurt, by yet another Muslim extremist group, but we should worry about your rights? I am sorry that Muslims feel their rights are being violated, but every time I go through a checkpoint, or have my bags searched, my rights as a non-Muslim are being violated. That's hundreds of times a year. Every time I go to a museum, or get on a plane, or go to work. What I want to hear from Muslims is less whining and more denouncement of the violence that seems to be integrated into their culture. This is 2013, America, to say that a phone must be searched by a female is ridiculous. To wear a veil that covers a face in this country is ridiculous. I have had it with the whining about rights in the US. Go back to where you came from and see if you get better treatment there. After the Boston bombing the silence was deafening from the Muslim community. Get used to our new reality, build an extra six hours into an international crossing, I do. In my life time, I have not heard of one case of terrorism by one of my relatives, yet hardly a day goes by, when there isn't another bombing or attack by Muslims. I think if we can go ten years, without one Muslim terrorist attack, we can think about relaxing our vigilance at the border, until then, give yourself a day. You aren't going to see a change in your lifetime, because Muslims are still fighting wars from the 13 century, and still applying 13th century norms.

Sep. 23 2013 06:30 PM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

America is meant to be a democratic state with rights and all that? Since the events of 9/11, what happened to your producer's family doesn't surprise me. I doubt that appeals to consider the constitution and the spirit of the constitution would wash with politicians or officials of either stripe. However, I think a practical lesson or two might:

IRA: In the 80s the UK was fighting the Irish terrorism (i.e. the IRA, INLA, etc). The UK Government responsded by severely limiting the rights of those it suspected of being terrorists. That led directly to lots of Americans supporting the IRA as they were able to argue that their citizens were unfairly treated.

PLO: I remember hearing an interview with a senior member of the PLO. He said that he was a student at an Isreali university. As such Mossad picked him up, roughed him up and interrogated him. At that time he was apolitical. His experience made him join the PLO and fight Isreal.

The US authorities (and, quite frankly, the UK authorites as well) would do well to learn from history and be polite, only investigate thoese where there are grounds to believe that they are involved in crime. It seems that the authorities have forgotten that there isn't a tension between rights, liberties and security -- they support one another.

Sep. 23 2013 02:11 PM

This is terrorism, plain and simple. Abusing innocent citizens to instill fear and compliance.

That it is perpetrated by government employees does not make it anything less. If there is cause for suspicion, such as a flag on a passport or a pattern of movement that arouses interest, it's expected that border police will detain or arrest suspects accordingly and resolve the issue.

In this case, the police probably new very early on that these were middle class American citizens who posed no threat to American security. Everything they did after that was pure harassment - illegal and immoral and instills fear and resentment. For children seeing their parents treated this way, it can have very strong impact. When you see your parents, your rocks of security, treated like criminals by your government, how are you going to feel about your government as you mature?

Sep. 23 2013 01:54 PM
Anonymous from California

I am in my 40's and am an American citizen. For the past few years I have lived in New Zealand, returning to America for a couple months a year to do consulting work or visit family. While entering the US at Los Angeles airport in 2012, I was asked many questions by the CBP agent, but found these two beyond the pale: "Where will you go after you leave the airport?" How do you plan to support yourself while in the US?"

Since when did an American citizen need to tell the American government where he will go while in America?

Sep. 23 2013 01:46 PM
sean from Toronto

My (unlocked) phone was searched (through photos only) while crossing back into Canada (I'm Canadian) at the Niagara Falls border this past summer.

Sep. 23 2013 11:19 AM
Gene from NY

The more anecdotal evidence we accumulate on Customs and Border Protection, the TSA, the NSA, the FBI, the CIA or, for that matter, the NYPD, the more we realize how perilously close we're getting to a police state. If we're not there already.

Conversely, when you cross any of the bridges into Canada, or go through any of the airports there, it's nothing but civility and crisp professionalism -- never a hint of swagger, heavy-handedness or thuggery.

Which leads to an inevitable question: What have We the People allowed our government to become?

Sep. 23 2013 11:00 AM

I am sympathetic to the plight of Ms. Abdurrahman and her friends. How could anyone not be sympathetic?

But where is the policy issue in this story? What I took away was the disturbing misbehavior by the front-line low-level DHS agents. Of course the DHS staff's actions were inexcusable. They ought to be held accountable. What formal policies were the agents enforcing/upholding? Is there any evidence that this is a policy matter? To the extent that the agency is now covering for the misbehaving agents, that too is inexcusable.

But how do we ever hold unionized federal employees accountable for their incoherence, incompetence and insularity? I hope that On the Media gets the names of all of the individual agents involved.

I just wonder how we'll get along with all of the federal agents who will manage Obamacare.

Sep. 23 2013 01:09 AM
Larry Darnell from California USA

While treated like dirt on returning to the US last year, it was nothing like the full-bore harassment delivered by Canadian customs in Abbottsford on my way into Canada in February. Rude, arrogant, abusive...but at least I could think under my breath:'these yokels really believe they have a country here, this is a joke, come on, eh?' On doing some research into what my rights were entering Canada or the US, I discovered a fairly dismal fact that 'rights' are minimal to none, you're at loose in a dingy with the dingy...and as noted elsewhere, customs falls under virtually no oversight nor legal recourse. As one might say a loose canon that no congressman nor senator would wish to waste time with as it's a lose lose situation for them to be squishy soft on protecting the motherland. My rule: carry a computer designed to have nothing on it, be ready to be abused for as long as it takes, because I love my country, and like a drunk abusive uncle, accept there's a big sick elephant in the room that's not going away.

Sep. 23 2013 12:11 AM

I am sending the link to this page to my Federal Representatives.
As a fellow US citizen please give my sincerest apologies to Ms. Abdurrahman and her family and friends.

Sep. 22 2013 09:45 PM

This is EXACTLY why years ago I joined the ACLU, and exactly why I am still a member today.

In fact, I think I'll drop $50 in the mail to them tomorrow.

Sep. 22 2013 09:37 PM
Stu Turnbull from Toronto

From the perspective of a Canadian dealing with the Canadian border patrol and customs agents.. I am certain they suffer from difficulties of policing, such as profiling, transparency and accountability. However, once they are prepared to let someone cross into the country they deliver a hearty, "welcome home!" and despite often long, frustrating delays it actually makes a difference.

Sep. 22 2013 09:26 PM

What can we do as private citizens to stop this or make some changes? I wish you would have urged people and given them phone numbers or emails of certain people (representatives? senators? CVP? DHS? who?) that we could flood with calls or emails. Is there a petition that can be started, such as the ones on Or is this all pointless? Thanks for raising the awareness!

Sep. 22 2013 07:39 PM
Mike from California

An extremely disquieting story.

But wait, you left out the most important part: what *ARE* our rights? You left that hanging! You had at least one ACLU lawyer interviewed for this; why no questions about this?

How is this situation not a major civil rights violation worthy of OTM (and hopefully NPR) putting its weight behind it -- doing some dogged investigative journalism -- to find out exactly what our rights are? Contacting some Senators and Representatives? Tracking down the USSC precedent that allows the government to confiscate your electronics without a warrant? Getting *some* level of official information either on the DHS policies in this area or an official response about the legal basis on which these policies are not being released?

The treatment of the families chronicled in this report is unconscionable. But reporting that without the follow-up of what our rights actually are is incomplete reporting.

Sep. 22 2013 06:12 PM
George Ekel

I navigated to Sarah Abdurrahman's "My Detainment .." story of this weekend's "On the Media" program and clicked on the "Print" button but instead of printing the story it printed pieces of all kind of stories.

How can I print Sarah Abdurrahman's "My Detainment .." story ?

Sep. 22 2013 05:58 PM
Eric P from North Carolina

Read the history on Germany, Italy and Japan prior to and during the second world war. This is was happens when a government turns fascist. It's not a far reach to liken the border agents actions to that of the Nazi SS. There are those who might say it's OK since it only affects a small group of Muslims. I would say, next year, next month, it could be you. That's why we supposedly have a Constitution. The reporter of the story, and NPR's listeners, may now have a better understanding as to why there is a 2nd Amendment, which backs up the 1st Amendment. It is the last option when the government no longer honors its obligation to uphold the Constitution. It's about time we, as a country, step down from a hidden war footing. Twelve years after the world trade center attack is far too long to prop up the lie that our country is somehow faced with eminent destruction from abroad. Give me a damn break, we didn't even go this far during WW2, and that was a real war. My biggest disappointment is that this is still happening under President Obama. And I'm a Conservative. Mrs. Abdurrahman, I'm sorry this happened to you and your family and that it continues to happen to others.

Sep. 22 2013 04:52 PM

What struck me about the story was that three families, all that had been at the same wedding in Toronto, were stopped at two different U.S. borders. If I was a suspicious person, I might be thinking about who else was at the wedding, whether they had a similar issue returning to the U.S., and whether I wanted to run a FOIA request on myself.

Sep. 22 2013 03:31 PM
Fred Holmes from Birmingham, AL

The Department of Homeland Security, based upon it's NAME ONLY, has to be the closest thing the United States has EVER HAD to the Stasi in East Berlin, or the SS under Hitler's Third Reich.
HOMELAND is a term which SHOULD BE reserved for the NATIVE inhabitants of a geographical area. If you're not a native American, you ARE NOT in your HOMELAND here in North America.
The DHS is a front for anonymous BULLIES, and you can take that to the bank.

Sep. 22 2013 02:59 PM

I was very moved by this report. It was a terrible incident of which I am ashamed and sadly not shocked to hear happened. I only wonder how many others who are not journalists have experienced this, and so it goes unreported. The NEW YORKER did a story a few months back about carelessness with names on the watch list and the horror it caused. Brooke I hope you will continue to follow up on the border crossing story. I understand the border needs to be monitored, but people do not have to be treated this way and government employees should not be allowed to get away with treating citizens this way without consequences.

Sep. 22 2013 01:37 PM

I wonder how Richard Misztal’s investigation into the name disclosure policy is going? It underscores the suspicion one might develop when hearing stories like this that there are, in fact, no enforceable rules dictating the behavior of border patrol agents.

Sep. 22 2013 01:17 PM
Joe Saba

Living in Arizona is was COMMON for us to go to Mexico where my mother in law lived on weekends. this was back in 90's.

One contentious border crossing back into US I had words with customs agent who said to me.


Being WHITE and BORN IN US I had never experienced this kind of behaviour.


now with PATRIOT act - or should it be called the SUBVERSION ACT, we have even fewer rights and have an OUT OF CONTROL GOVT.

Sep. 22 2013 12:02 PM
Reza Bamdad from somewhere safe in US

My sympathy to your producer, many of my Middle Eastern friends have gone through the same experience including myself. During 2002, when the agency was created, these agents would be asked to acknowledged: What was their religious belief (many re-born Christian), or many republican affiliations. Those whom answered to those questions; "yes" they had received preferences. The Custom and Border Patrol Agency agents have never received any “cultural sensitivity” trainings. These agents have been waiting for “major breakthrough” so they could be on News (FOX, CNN or MSNBC) for arresting "Terrorist". Who has forgotton So called “Lackawanna Six” in Buffalo, NY?!!!My advice to any Middle Eastern passing through these borders, if you have been retained by any agents: a) Niagara Falls: you should ask agent immediately, how many Irish Republican Army members have been retained by him and his team since in South Buffalo, these individuals (active IRA members whom they still hate Brits)are still do fund raising. They (IRA) are terrorists, too. You will find out that these agents are immediately back down; b) If you are in Plattsburgh, then asked them about “Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ)” and how many French-speaking Canadian have been retained”, some of members are still living in North Eastern Part of NY and Maine; I can go on about every border. The problems with my Middle Eastern USA Citizen have NOT learnt to throw back right points to those bigots whom have hide behind their shields. We (Muslims) do not want to learn about the history of West and who was the first person use bomb killing innocent British (last time I checked, it was done by IRA not any Muslims). Also, my final advice to your producer as “Muslims”, we are banned by our religious teaching to carry photos and other private matters on your “Smart Phone”. It seems that she (your producer) just forgot about “NSA Surveillance” program not so long ago. Under USA laws (for almost 100 years), when you are arrested or under “so called suspicious”, we have no right. She lives in NY, two governors before, he had to resign due to just simple investigation when the investigators had discovered credit card discrepancies. So when you leave or enter, try not to have too much private information on your computer or Smart Phone. Have two separate phone and forward to your disposable phone.

Sep. 22 2013 11:09 AM
jiminnj from nj

After listening to the segment on USA border crossing, I have definately decided I WILL NOT extend my future trip to Vermont into Canada - even though I haven't been to Canada since my teen years and never been to Montreal. I'm not mid-eastern, but just on general principles I have no inclination to risk such a 'welcome' on the way back home. Sorry Canada ...

Sep. 22 2013 10:40 AM
Rob W from New York

I heard about 10 minutes of this story while I was in the shower this a.m.

1. You should feel safer in your own country, they are monitoring the BORDERS to keep questionable people OUT. If you're in and don't leave the country, this story gives you nothing to worry about. I could understand if you don't feel safe leaving the country, but the summary saying that they didn't feel safe in their own country is unfounded.

2. Also, the reason the guy was detained for so long was because, it said clearly in the story, he had a long avoided ticket that he never paid for a license plate that was crooked in the past. Come on, it only takes two bolts to get a license plate to stay on straight, and it's not like you're drilling the holes yourself. I'd think it questionable if someone had a license plate that was on crooked (only one bolt perhaps) that it's possible that they were switching that plate between multiple vehicles, which IS a suspicious activity in my book.

As a citizen, I'm glad they stopped him.

Sep. 22 2013 10:38 AM

I posted a complaint here:
If you are outraged do the same.

Sep. 22 2013 10:16 AM
Bob Manning from Louisville

One quibble: Although this is an important story (and I'm sending it to express outrage to my representatives in Washington) I don't think the piece fits well with "On the Media." I don't see the MEDIA connection, except that Sarah herself is a journalist.

Sep. 22 2013 10:00 AM
John Hamilton from Madison, Wisconsin

This is an excellent story, but it goes nowhere, which puts it in what I call "leftist" whining, like what I hear on Democracy Now. If you took it a little deeper you might get to understanding why these things happen, and thereby approach solutions.

We live in a mass society. It is in the nature of mass society that people live and work in subsets of the mass society - workable units of people and location that simplify daily life. Whether in government or in business the overall operation is broken down into divisions and bureaus that perform specific tasks, with the purpose being a coordinated output of goods or services that contribute to the well-being of society.

Inevitably these subdivisions become self-focused, and the internal dynamics of the bureau or department dwarf the overall purpose of the organization. A well-functioning society develops ways of minimizing this tendency, but the "American" system is not one of them.

On the Media could be a national leader in pointing out this syndrome, and inspiring the necessary self-reflection and study that could lead to solutions and safeguards. I know this is a tall order, but the option is doing these stories repeatedly that go nowhere. It is good for job security, but not much else.

Sep. 22 2013 07:55 AM
Catskill Eddie from Stamford

In 1967 I graduated from college and decided to take a round about way to my summer job by way of Toronto and Montreal. The Canadian customs folks were great asking where I was going and wished me a good time. I enjoyed Toronto and Expo in Montreal and headed back toward my job in Vermont. During most of the trip I was camping along the side of roads and did not have access to proper bathrooms for shaving and so on. By the time I reached the border I was probably a bit beat looking. The stopped me and asked the usual where were you going, where have you been, and so on. but this time they asked me to pull my motorcycle into the inspection area. They instructed me to unroll my bedroll and unpack my bags. They then proceeded to disassemble my bike, empty my gas tank, and search everywhere for the drugs they were absolutely sure anyone with a beard and motorcycle must surely have hidden somewhere. After an hour of searching, which fortunately did not include body cavities, I was simply told have a nice day. Here I was with all of my worldly possessions scattered on the ground. It took me hours to reassemble my bike and get on the road.

Did I mention that my summer job was in a scout camp in Vermont? This is not something new. This has been going on for years. I have travelled extensively in Europe since then, and have found that border personnel are highly efficient and courteous.

Now with the heightened post 9-11 issues, they problem has become worse. I remember flying into Belfast from Heathrow at the height of the troubles. I found that the security people, during a period of time when folks were getting blown up in London and Belfast, were courteous and efficient. Our bumbling minimum wage TSA employees need better supervision and training.

Sep. 22 2013 04:57 AM

Forty years or so ago I went, with my young family, to visit my sister in Victoria, B.C. Coming back we landed in Port Angeles and a whole boat load of cars waiting to be cleared drove off after a cursory question: "Where were you? Where are you going?", etc. A couple of humorless customs agents unloaded my whole car while my wife and I and kids followed orders to open suitcases, unwrap and open sleeping bags, all our camping gear strewn on the ground, and when done they turned away without a word. I had to ask, "May we go now?" No cause or rule was cited. No greeting coming or going, just orders, "Open this. Empty that.". We had to spend the next half hour or so putting our stuff back. I felt that we were chosen because I (dad) had long hair. I don't know what, but I do know that I have been back and forth many times since then with shorter hair and never saw anyone else or me stopped. When they were "inspecting" us I was scared because I knew that they had arbitrary power over us and could "hassled" us as much as they wanted. I felt completely invaded, misused and powerless. These guys are scary, as are other fascist like groups like the DEA and the ATF. I'm glad they don't have their guns pointed at me now.

Sep. 22 2013 01:00 AM
Jenni from Atlanta, GA

This is awful. And it's not appearance, either. (Or maybe it is, as well.) If it were just a matter of a headscarf of the color of your skin, the solution would be relatively easy, however, I am blonde, blue eyes, and I get the same suspicious treatment too, as a foreigner (Northern European) whenever I enter the US. My husband and children are US citizens (US born and raised; blonde, blue eyes), and still, I always have to go through a lot of sweat, questions, etc. to even just enter the country (we live in the Middle East but often visit family in the US).

People ask me, 'But don't you think it's worth it if we can prevent another 9/11?' Guilt trip. You know what? We could probably close our borders permanently, never let anyone else in again, and anyone asked that question would feel inclined to answer, 'Well, yes, I guess...'

But really, it's not OK. There has to be another way. Right?

Sep. 22 2013 12:00 AM

The only possible course is to contact your congressman - that means both representative and both senators. Further, I would include members of the Judiciary Committees on both sides... I'd have to look up the committee structure.

You might try Dept of Justice, Civil Rights, or better the Office of Inspector General.

Sep. 21 2013 11:53 PM
Thatwood B. Telling from The Village

For the duration of the piece, I felt ashamed to be an American. Even now, I'm ashamed that my country mans its borders with thugs who treat their fellow citizens this way, then hide behind laws and agency rules that don't require that they explain their actions-- either during the detentions, immediately after or even when followed up long after their trauma by those dealt with in this manner. I'd like nothing more right now than to see Muslim Americans who've undergone such treatment convince the ACLU to represent them in a class action law suit to stop this abuse.

Sep. 21 2013 10:41 PM
nick from boston

I heard this report this morning, and like others who have posted comments here, I was disgusted. This country has gone mad since 9/11/01 over security. I don't like where I see us headed. We are one serious terror attack or some other catastrophe away from a total police state here. The police have been militarized by Homeland Security. The infrastructure for a fascist state is in place and waiting for the moment.

Sep. 21 2013 09:00 PM

This really isn't new, though my experiences weren't as horrifying as Sarah's. Here are my 3 border crossing stories (note these are three different borders).

Harassment A: I took a youth group to Mexicali in the mid-1980s. In our group were two Iranian refugees and an adult female Mexican national. When we were crossing back to Calexico (where the Mexican woman lived with her American husband), we were detained and had to wait for a couple hours for reasons never made clear. The interesting part was that the agents never approached either the Mexican or Iranians, but they did ask a 17-year-old blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy with us where he was born. He answered, "Hawaii." The guard then asked him, "How long have you been an American citizen?" (Maybe this guy was an originator of the birther movement.) Besides my embarrassment at having an idiot represent the US at our border, I was pretty angry. I wrote to my senator when I got home. I had the date and time and border crossing info. Unfortunately, what I did NOT have was that guard's name and ID number, which was on his badge and which my senator's office said would be helpful to have in order to address the situation.

Harassment B: When my son brought his pregnant Korean wife to the US for the first time, she became ill on the plane. But the INS (the responsible agency at that time), held her for an extra hour after deplaning, because she hadn't had one of her vaccinations. This, even though her doctor had sent a note saying he had not given her the vaccination due to her pregnancy.

Harassment C: My husband and I were returning from visiting a very ill friend of ours in Canada about 4 years ago. This was during the time the US was encouraging, but not requiring, its citizens to carry a passport when crossing the border. We had not brought ours, and by the time the snotty border agent got through treating us as though we were five-year-olds, I was ready to apply for asylum in Canada. Then he asked us, "How often to do you travel to Canada?" We said, "About once a year." Then HE told US that we'd been to Canada 3x in the past year! I was only able to restrain my retorts because my husband actually wanted to get home.

It makes me angry that U.S citizens are treated in this way, but it makes me even sadder that this is the first impression people such as my daughter-in-law have of us when they enter our country.

Sep. 21 2013 08:38 PM
peter edwards from Boston MA

Nothing has changed!
Pay these people McDonald wages and you get Ronald McDonald antics.
There is no accountability in that department of the government, as a result there is no accountability. This has been going on since 911.
I speak from experience.

I was also surprised on the media was not shut down on this topic, it must be an oversignt.

Basically this department has no integrity because it has no direction.

Thank you for this program, it was very true, very eye opening and demonstrates the people in charge at the Homeland security department are not accountable, even to the president of the United States!

Well done, it took some pluck to put this out today, I admire your spirit. Don't be surprised if someone shows up with a deneuralyzer!

(They owe me personally at least $2000 because of their stupid pratish ignorant threatening arrogant unchecked attitude)

Pete E

Sep. 21 2013 07:58 PM
Kat Morgan from Charleston, SC

This is so outrageous and appalling. What can I / we do to lodge complaints and outrage? What organizations are filing lawsuits ? How do we pressure CVP to stop this unconstitutional harassment and betrayal of US citizens? I am SO ANGRY after hearing this story. I haven't been this angry at a news story in a very long time -- and believe me, much of what I hear on the news is infuriating.

Sep. 21 2013 06:31 PM
Phil from Detroit Metro Area

I've had problems going through the Detroit port. US Citizen, good documents, no illegal items, but I objected to their questions. I shouldn't have to tell whether I work or not, shouldn't have to tell them where I used to work, if I was married and how long I've been married. I'm a white guy who used to have a TS clearance when I worked. I've written letters to Rep. Elijah Cummings (ranking member of the Oversight committee) and Sander Levin, my elected representative. Nothing back yet from either of them but it hasn't been too long. Next I'll try Sen Carl Levin.
I've had much better treatment from Customs officers in all other countries.

Sep. 21 2013 05:50 PM
Mitsi Wagner from Cleveland, Ohio

I am appalled. (surprise, surprise). I think about the many times that Janet Napolitano spoke to the 330 million of us in press conferences, giving speeches, providing reassurance about tragedies and disasters; I think about how personal she sounded, but how impossible it is for me to speak to her personally about the appalling nature of her employees' behavior. I don't wear a head scarf; I don't attend a mosque, but I feel violated as a human being upon hearing this story. Violated, and powerless to make this behavior stop. I am appalled.

Sep. 21 2013 04:53 PM

I've been treated with hostility by the border patrol numerous times and I am a white American. I have no criminal record of any kind, no parking tickets or anything at all. They flagged my passport for literally no reason other than they did not like me. They do not care and have no oversight. They make up their own laws and can do whatever they want and I don't see it changing anytime soon.

Sep. 21 2013 04:41 PM

I was stopped at that same border stop n Buffalo and I was detained. The ripped through my car and broke some of my dvds in the process. I asked to know why I was detained and they refused an answer. When I got to my car and found everything thrown about and my broken dvds I asked to check out my car to make sure they didnt break anything else. The officer told me I had to leave and that I could not check my car and began yelling and cursing at me as well.

Sep. 21 2013 04:33 PM

Unfortunately, this is a reality of the world we live in; the majority of terrorist attacks are committed by Muslims who are otherwise indistinguishable from their religious brethren. If you don't want to be targeted then change your name and stop practicing Islam, don't blame the CBP for being cautious when car loads of potential terrorists come through a checkpoint at the same time.

Sep. 21 2013 04:20 PM
theresa from massachusetts

Exceptionally good piece, and I too am ashamed for our country and angry. This extends, however, far beyond our border patrol. I learned long ago that we are not safe in any way, it is just an illusion that we buy into to feel good. I was the victim of a stalker who broke into my home, destroyed everything in it, and threatened my safety by continuing to stalk and document it so that I was fully aware. My local police department in an affluent town took an attitude of virtually hands off ( I say virtually because they took the reports and pretended to do what they were supposed to) I assume because it began as a domestic situation. I am an upper middle class person who lived under the illusion that we were safe in our world, and if something threatened that safety we had an agency to help us back to safety. We do not have any such thing. I took violations of restraining orders to court so many times I lost count, and they were dismissed every time. The courts, the police, and now I discover the border patrols and homeland security are not set up to keep us safe in our world, but rather are institutions that lure us into a false sense of security, whose functioning is for their own benefit: paychecks and the illusion of order in our world.

Sep. 21 2013 01:49 PM
JJ from MI

I think it is funny that no one blames the salafists who create a climate of fear by hiding among innocent muslims, blending in, while plotting horrific murderous attacks on innocent people. Anyone harboring and sympathizing with these hateful extremists shares the blame for the onerous security that Americans are now burdened with.

Sep. 21 2013 01:14 PM
Neil from Austin

I listened to the account of your experience at the border. It seems that you were targeted based on your ethnicity alone. I think as long as the story of Middle Easterners is told from a very narrow viewpoint mostly sympathetic to Israel, Muslims will be portrayed as outsiders. The long term solution is for Muslims to own their story. We hear on a daily basis that Israel is our greatest ally and the only country in the Middle East that we have anything in common with. The subtext is that every other group in the region is unfriendly, alien, and ultimately dangerous.

I was listening to a TED Radio Hour story on NPR this morning about how Westerners view Africans, having mostly heard stories told by the African colonizers in the last several hundred years. The Nigerian author on the program believed that she needed to tell her own story.

Sep. 21 2013 12:55 PM

A similar thing happened to my family in the late 1940s. We were returning from Canada with my grandparents in tow when we were detained at the American side for a while (I was a kid, so "a while" seemed like forever.) The problem? My grandpa, who was an Austrian immigrant. He came here in the early 1900's & spoke with a German-sounding accent. Unfortunately he had forgotten to bring his citizenship papers with him. My dad had quite a bit of explaining to do, but he eventually convinced the border guards that we weren't trying to sneak a Nazi into the country!

Sep. 21 2013 12:08 PM

My husband and I listened early this morning. The description of the treatment received by American citizens re-entering the US from Canada was appalling, but not at all unfamiliar to us. We experienced the same in 1988, long before 9/11 and the Patriot Act, as we were bringing a family of four refugees from Honduras back from their meeting with Canadian immigration officials. The family had been living with us in central Illinois while awaiting their appearance date. We crossed into Canada without incident and on the Canadian side, the border guards (Mounties) were kind, helpful, and empathetic as we waited in a comfortable room for the translator to arrive to complete the paper work. The family were given documents allowing them to return for permanent residence a couple months later. It was after dark when we crossed back into the US. As we showed our identification, the border guard looked into the back seat, sneered and said, "Wouldn't let them in, eh?" We told him, very politely, that actually they had their papers in order and would be returning in a few weeks. He jerked his thumb in the direction of a building a ways off and said, "Well, you're not going anywhere until you report over there." Long story short, we were left waiting for a couple hours while men came and went, looking over the counter at us with the same snickering and sneering described in your stories. No one would tell us what we were expected to do. Finally, my husband got one man to tell us that we were going to have to see his superior - "When?" we asked. "Oh about 3:00 tomorrow morning." "Can we leave and return then?" we asked, assuming a humble attitude of acceptance. "I don't care what you do...just be sure you are here in the morning." "Yes, sir." With that we headed for our car, told someone we had a return appointment for the following day, pointed the car south and never looked back. When we returned with the family to Canada, our car loaded with their clothes and the few things they had accumulated in the intervening weeks, we again crossed without incident, and after getting the family settled in Ontario, returned home - this time, with no brown faces peering from the backseat, the US border guard looked at our ID, shoved it back without comment and gestured to go ahead. We remember it all vividly - the shock and intimidation when we recognized how little our assumed rights as American citizens meant to the border officials. The Hondurans, however, sympathetic as they were to our feelings, were not shocked - explaining to us that they found it all very familiar. Intimidation by officials was part of every day life in Honduras. We learned a lot that night about what we now understand as "white privilege" - how comfortably secure we are as long as we look the way we do and don't put ourselves in a position to experience what so many others do every day. How naive we were.

Sep. 21 2013 11:21 AM
stephen from Detroit

Our country is only good as our weakest institution. How can we treat people poorly because the way they dress or their color of their skin? This must change. This makes me want to work for the change. These are Americans being badly treated. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. I'm mad at those officials that hide behind "home security". No one is secure when institutions act poorly.

Sep. 21 2013 11:02 AM
Ken W. from near Asheville, NC

There is one item in this story that is missing. The promise of a followup. What, if anything, will happen to resolve this episode?

I fear that this is not an uncommon problem. My wife encountered a similar situation going the other way. An American citizen, she was stopped and interrogated for several hours by Canadian authorities while crossing into Canada near Buffalo. I was so angered by her treatment - no explanation was ever given for her detention - that I contacted the Canadian Embassy in Washington. I was given the brushoff and they said that their agents are allowed a great deal of discretion on who and how they "interview" visitors.

My wife and I have no intention of setting foot in Canada again.

Sep. 21 2013 11:01 AM

Exceptionally good piece Sarah. I'm ashamed and angry. Thinking of the probably thousands of non-journalists to whom this has happened.

Sep. 21 2013 10:59 AM
Mark from Texas

Listening to the story, you quote a CAIR attorney? Unindicted co-conspirators in a terrorism case and this is a resource? Boo-hoo, having been treated to much worse in other countries myself, I have zero sympathy here.

I see border agents doing their job, sorry. Zero sympathy

Sep. 21 2013 10:38 AM

I listened to this story in the middle of the night and was so upset on behalf of these American citizens that I simply could not go back to sleep. I would urge Americans sympathetic to those caught in similar situations to take to social media to publicize this outrageous conduct by the border control and further, especially Americans in those border states where such abuses take place, to bombard their senators and representatives and our president with phone calls, emails, letters, whatever it takes to demand that someone—the DOJ, Congress—not only reign in Customs and Border Protection but publish for all to see the exact regulations under which their agents are so flagrantly permitted to violate the rights of American citizens in the manner described in this story.

To your producer, her family, and all Americans treated in this fashion, I pledge to do what little I can on their behalf to protest to my government about this situation. President Obama—the Nobel Peace Prize? Pu-lease!

Sep. 21 2013 06:16 AM
Moonbat from New York City

Thank you for sharing your experience and reporting this story. As a fellow American, I find this outrageous and appalling. Public servants ought to be accountable. How about elected officials - are they open to calling for hearings? Which committee is responsible for providing oversight?

Sep. 20 2013 11:43 PM

I found this one of the single most disturbing an angering pieces I have ever heard on this show (which I have listened to for a very long time). As a fellow citizen I am so sorry for what happened to you, and so sorry for the others it happens to. It is frustrating there is little way to redress this type of systemic behavior.

I personally think getting all worked up about the constitutionality/legality of these practices is kind of silly. There is enough grey area for them to do what they want, and the constitutionality/legality does not matter anyway. What matters is that we should not want to live in a country where this behavior from our law enforcement officers is acceptable.

As someone who does and has worked with people in federal agencies I can only encourage you to try and get a Congressman or better yet a Senator interested in this issue. Calls from citizens or journalists are not going to have much impact unless it is the Post or the Times. A call from a Senator's office on the other hand will get the Deputy Assistant Secretaries moving pretty quickly in most cases. Maybe try Al Franken? This seems like his kind of issue, and there is a large Somali population in Minneapolis/St. Paul who I am sure this impacts.

If this type of behavior continues perhaps we could start some sort of civil rights ride-share program for Muslim citizens leaving/entering the US. Kind of like the northerners who went down to the bible belt in the 60s. Drag a red headed honky along with you on your next trip to Toronto and I bet they are much less likely to detain you. In the off chance they do decide to detain some white male Christians who ride with you, it will be a lot easier to whip up public outrage and political traction.

The saddest thing about the whole incident is that I doubt it is even terrorism related. My grandfather was a border patrol agent for decades on the Canadian border in the summers (he was a school teacher otherwise), and there was always this huge pressure from the superiors to hit contraband seizure quotas. I would not be surprised if these agents were hassling you just in the hopes that they hit the jackpot and one of you confesses to bringing some weed back from Canada or illegal fruit or whatever.

In any case my sincere condolences regarding this horrible experience I am ashamed at my impotence to address the situation.

Sep. 20 2013 10:44 PM
Avi Burstein from NY

Horrifying. Horrifying what happened to you. Horrifying how our civil liberties have just disappeared. Horrifying how no one seems to care.

Sep. 20 2013 10:40 PM
Nathan from 07030

Are we shocked at all? We activity worked hard and voted people into power who created a rapacious and anti-American police state - where the government looks for loops holes to abuse people and citizens instead of erring on the side of protecting our freedom.

Sep. 20 2013 08:29 PM

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