Sometime in 2012
This letter was provided to Codefore and the author will remain anonymous It was written to Janet Napolitano and Robert Jacksta in 2012. It’s difficult to believe that this is happening in our country. It appears that no-one is immune except people who do their job in the name of National Security and the Patriot Act. This act, enacted under the Bush Administration was recently extended and not only applies to non citizens, but to Citizens of the United States with no requirement of probably cause, suspicion or anything else.
There must be a better way to protect our country than at the expense of our constitutional rights. If we lose our right to freedom, the right to remain silent, the right to not be subject to unreasonable searches what is there to protect? We might as well live under a dictatorship.
Secretary Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
CC: Robert Jacksta
Border Security and Facilitation
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington DC 20229
RE: Secondary Border inspection at Tecate California Border Crossing
On ../../2012, my passenger and I were attempting to gain entry into the United States from Mexico. I will not name my passenger in this letter because he is not a participant in this letter.
I will say this about the two of us. I am retired police . My passenger (who I admittedly do not know very well) has told me that in the past he has been employed with a Federal Law enforcement agency. co. I travel to Mexico and back to the United States frequently. I use the Tecate crossing because it is quicker than Tijuana. My passenger asked me for a ride from Mexico where he lives to Del Mar California so that he could attend his son’s high-school graduation.
After passing through the initial custom guard’s station, I was directed to the “secondary area” We (my CIA friend and I) waited there for approximately 20 minutes before an agent came to my vehicle and instructed us to exit the vehicle and have a seat on a bench in front of one of the buildings. We did as we were instructed. We waited, and waited and finally my vehicle was searched. Then we waited more until all of the vehicles that were in the second area before my vehicle was there and after had been searched and allowed to leave. My pickup truck was the only vehicle left. By this time, we had been there an hour and a half. We watched as two agents searched my truck.
When the search was finished three agents escorted us into a room that had a counter and behind the counter was another agent. We were required to take everything out of our pockets, remove our belts, and put the items on the counter. Then one of the agents that escorted us into the room made us face the counter, put our hands on the counter, and spread our legs. We were searched. Nothing was found.
As a cop, I know the routine when a person is placed under arrest and I was experiencing this routine. However when I asked the agent behind the counter why we were being placed under arrest. His answer was, “You are not under arrest. You are being detained.” I asked, “Am I free to leave” “His answer was no” In my mind and as interpreted in US Law I was under arrest.
He continued saying, “I know your employment history. (He saw the badge in my wallet) This is not like it was when you were a cop. You do not have any rights in this room.”
We were then instructed to sit on a long steel bench with our faces to the wall (This wall was about 10 inches away from our faces) and say nothing and do not look away from the wall. We sat on these benches for about 3 hours. During this three hours we were allowed to speak with the agent behind the desk but not to each other. We were not allowed to use the restroom or smoke. I noted that on the wall there was a large sign that said it was a crime to take pictures or record what was going on in this room.
I asked the agent what instance, evidence or information there was to generate this behavior by the Border guards. He said, “As I have told you, you do not have the right to know this information. I could not tell you anyway because I do not know why you are being detained”
My friend and passenger asked the desk agent if he could use the phone to call his wife and let her know he may not be able to make it to his son’s graduation” The agent said, “I will make this request to my supervisor but as I said before you do not have any rights in this room and that includes a phone call.”
We arrived at the border station at about 10:30 AM. At approximately 2:30 PM we were escorted into separate rooms by plain clothes people who said that they were with Homeland Security. These agents identified themselves by name and presented their homelands security identification cards. The said that they had driven to Tecate for the purpose of interviewing us.
I was interviewed by two people, one male and one female. They had an interest in my laptop computer and a laptop that my friend had in his overnight bag. They asked repeated questions about which computer I owned and which one my friend owned.
We were never advised of our constitutional rights to remain silent. ( I can only assume that one does not have any rights in the interview room either). This interview was the first time that I became aware of what this was all about. They had “information” they said, that there were pictures or movies of porn that contained children and that one of us was the culprit. I asked them which one of us was the subject of their “information” They said I did not have the right to know that.
They asked me if my friend was a pedophile. I said “Not that I know of”. They asked if he had ever acted like one, or if I had ever gone to a place where child porn was. I said no. They informed me that they were confiscating my laptop and that I might be able to get it back in a few days. I told them that if they just wanted to see what the computer contained I would provide them with the password and thus avoid them taking it from me. They agreed and escorted me back to the same room from which I was initially put in.
It was now 3:00 PM. My friend was escorted into the room. The desk agent again said that we were not under arrest but not to talk to each other. My friend was allowed to call his wife. He whispered that he had given them his laptop password, I said that I had done the same.
A few minutes later one of the Homeland Security agents said that we were free to leave. They gave us back our laptops and pointed to my truck. It was a mess in side and it took me a few minutes to find my registration, proof of insurance and straighten up all the debris that had been displaced. My friend called his wife and apologized for missing their son’s graduation. Later I discovered that my Sprint Air card was broken and inoperable and there was something wrong with my laptop. I took it to a computer repair place and had it repaired.
In short, Ms. Napolitano, my experience with your border and homeland security employees was the worst violation of US Citizen’s constitutional rights I have ever seen. Not only were their actions intentional they were observed and approved by supervisors. This leads one to believe that this is the result of approved policy.
This treatment of two Citizens (not criminals) of the United States of America should not be forgotten. I’ll do my best to prevent it from being forgotten.