Thursday, July 12, 2007

Porous US-border

Crossing the border into the USA at Tijuana/San Diego is always an exciting event.

It starts miles before the border when cars more or less get into lines heading for the booths.
There are always drivers of cars who get the idea that another line is faster moving and suddenly switch abruptly and swiftly moving in front of another car.
Resulting in horns hooting screams and shouts.

In between the cars are vendors of newspapers, souvenirs, food and teddy bears.
And guys with a dirty cloth offering to dust free cars.

Most hilarious though are men and women who are dressed completely in white with fantasy labels on their sleeves pretending to look like representatives of some official humanitarian organisation offering the drivers the opportunity to donate and do well.

But everything is happening in a peaceful atmosphere: obviously all the people trying to squeeze a last buck out of the departing visitors of Mexico have an agreed policy to always remain polite and friendly.
And they actually do.
A poster was seen on a fence calling for a meeting: from this poster one could understand that all those vendors and beggars are united in one organization.
It must be there that the policy of courteousness has been agreed.

The custom officer this time was a well proportioned Latin lady who would have looked much better if she had not been forced to wear pants.
Her pants looked like filled with air under ultra high pressure.
It must be remembered though that custom officers are there to protect the border and not to look attractive and be well dressed.
Although, this would not be a bad idea.
To enter a country meeting sexy and attractive custom officers as if it was a Hooters Restaurant.

Anyway, we are getting off course here, this well proportioned Latin lady immediately started waving her arms.
To some officers standing on the other side of the road.
She made visual contact with her colleagues who agreed with whatever she had in mind.
There was no opportunity to hand over the passport and other documents to the custom officer: she ordered to cross the street with the Fuso Szulc pronto.

There a long line of vehicles was found waiting.
All cars having Mexican license plates.

Waiting took almost half an hour.
Not knowing for what reason.

Eventually, the line started moving and a group of cars were directed to a large open space.
There, people in civilian clothes positioned us in one line: bumper-to-bumper.
We had to get out of our cars and we had to put the keys on the wipers.

Next, we had to assemble some distance away from the line of cars.
All of us were Mexicans except this one European.

There was a large van with labels of warning on it with radiation alerts.
Obviously, inside was a large, powerful and sophisticated x-ray machine.
This van rode up and down parallel with the line of cars.
A man in the front of the van was watching a lap top computer screen.
Probably seeing what was inside the vehicles.

Once the van was done with its x-raying, we could go back to our cars and to uttermost surprise drive freely into the United States of America without that any document was being checked.

This is pretty amazing.
Within the context of the actual political situation, the debate about terrorism, Home Land Security, border protection and the iPhone it is almost unbelievable that someone can enter the USA without that the custom officers, the immigration officers and the Border Patrol ask to see the travel documents.

The procedure should have been that the first custom officer, in this case our friend the well proportioned Latin lady, checks the documents before to send the vehicle to the area for second inspection by x-ray machine.

We can take this story as an amusing anecdote.
But it is in the interest of every one of us that persons with bad intentions get as little space to operate as possible.
This means that we must be able to expect that officials who are in charge to keep the space small for the bad boys and girls do their job properly.
Therefore, maybe this experience should be reported to the authorities?

Second issue is this x-raying.
That must be a very powerful x-ray machine they use.
And it is wondered whether these x-rays do not leave radiation behind in the metal of the Fuso Szulc.


Joe said...

My wife is an x ray tech and it makes me wonder what kind of lead shielding, if any, is in the truck.

Anonymous said...

You may be fortunate that you switched from film to digital. I wonder if that machine would have fogged your film without them warning you of such a risk. Sounds like they thought that you were just another commercial truck?

Don Howe