Saturday, February 06, 2016

Proceed to Secondary...

Crossed the border at Houlton.  Made the decision during the drive that I would be up front about my intentions for the weekend with the customs agents, given that I had some of the planned event information printed out, and out of curiosity for their reaction.
"So why are you going to these primary events?" - I am just interested in politics, I guess. 
"Are you doing any volunteering?" - I am not sure, I hadn't really planned to. 
 "Sir, please pull your car over and proceed to secondary inspection." - No problem...
I park the car, hand over the keys and passport inside the building to an officer who is a dead ringer for Herc from the Wire.  Can I use the bathroom?  "Not yet, sir."  After a brief wait, Herc brings me into a smaller room and I'm asked to sit on a bench across from a make-shift desk.  Apparently he wanted me to make it very clear that I was just going to observe the primaries up close out of interest, and that I was absolutely not going to volunteer in any way, "...because that would constitute interference in a US election by a foreign national, which is a violation of US law."

To that point, I had only mentioned the first Clinton rally in Portsmouth (to which Herc responded that she would not be his choice, in a rather humourous exchange).  When I replied that I really had no intention of volunteering for any candidate, and was also going to head to the Trump rally the following day, my story finally seemed to click for him.  (And Herc also made it clear he was not a fan of the Donald either.)

We went back to the main area, where I was rather bizarrely told to please keep my hands out of my pockets.  Herc confirmed everything was good with his supervisor while I looked up and smiled at the framed photo of President Obama on the wall.  Moments later I was on my way, with assurances again that I would not be assisting any of the campaigns during my short stay.  Incidentally, Herc is technically wrong on the law, although in fairness I was asked early on for my occupation, so he might have been thrown off by the fact that I said I was a lawyer.

In all, another memorable border crossing, and some lessons learned about the consequences of full disclosure?  At least none of it felt too intimidating as it played out, except for the general dread of being at the whim of arbitrary decision making (and when I noticed there were handcuffs attached to that bench...) 


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