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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dear BORED-er Patrol, Fuck You.

Dear California Border Patrol:

While I realize that you have a monumental, often dangerous task at hand in keeping our borders safe from encroachment by illegal aliens and drug smugglers, I wonder if you find entertainment when you're bored by abusing your power.

For many years, we have crossed over the California/Tijuana border and spent countless enjoyable hours at friends homes in Rosarito Beach and Puerto Nuevo. Yes, we have heard the many horror stories about carjackers and corrupt Mexican Policia and Federales. But we have never experienced anything but the warmth and hospitality of the beautiful Mexican people. Our kids have learned Spanish and have been taught to be respectful and to never be those "ugly Americans". They have learned to love the land and the people. Never once have we been stopped at the border for more than a few minutes, mostly to check MY papers because I appear to be Hispanic and must prove my U.S. birth.

So for the first time, we allow our sons to make the journey on their own for a weekend of surfing. Three friends, all honor students and scholarship recipients, one of whom speaks four languages fluently at the young age of 18. They call us everyday of the weekend to share with us their experiences; the awesome surf, the friendly locals who told them where they could catch lobster from their surfboards, the Mexican policia who taught them where and how to dig for clams and then helped them cook their catches and shared their dinner. The guitar jam sessions by a beach fire and a few cold beers with other surfers after a great day of surfing. They even ask if they can stay another day since its still college break and there's no hurry to get home. Sure, they got approached by some locals wanting to sell them some smoke, but other than the fact that none of these three dig weed, why risk everything and be stupid? Why take the chance of losing your hard-earned scholarships? Why worry your parents? Especially in a foreign country. These are THEIR words, not mine.

It must have been a very slow, boring day for you folks at the border Monday morning. My son called me at 8 am to tell me that they were just at the border, on the Mexico side, and that they'd be home in about an hour and a half, reiterating what a great time they had and how they'd already planned another weekend. The hours passed; two, three, four, with no word from our boys. Finally at noon, my son calls to tell me, in very heated terms of the nightmarish ordeal they went through at the hands of your "Homeland Security" officers, and how they had only just been released.

Yes Sir, here's our passports. No Sir, we have no contraband. Yes Sir, we've only been surfing at Baja Mal and Puerto Nuevo. Yes Sir, my friend's dad's casita is there. He says they were respectful and answered all their questions, and still, they were sent aside for a "random" search. After being detained for an hour, my son asks why they're being held, told to shut up and given his "Miranda" rights. When the officer tells him he has the right to remain silent, he asks if they're being placed under arrest, requests to call his parents, and again told to shut up.

Another two hours pass and my son and his buddies, who have been separated and put into separate rooms, are getting nervous, again asking to call their parents, and again are told to shut up. They are searched, just short of a body cavity search. An officer tells my son to "not react" while he massages my son's genitals, and when my son DOES react, the officer squeezes down on his scrotum, just for good measure.

A female officer tells them that they KNOW that they have weed, it's just a matter of time before they find it in the car. They might as well confess and tell them where it is and it will save time. When the boys tell them that there is no weed, that they don't smoke, and that they only had a few beers on their weekend, she calls them liars; "We know your type." Meanwhile, they can see out the window that officers are tearing apart my son's friend's truck; throwing their surfboards to the ground, dumping all of their gear, opening bags of potato chips and dumping them all over the inside cab of the truck. Throwing their guitars to the ground, damaging them. All the while, the boys say these protectors of our security are smugly snickering, as if they are enjoying themselves.

Four hours later, the female officer tells them that they are being released, and lectures them about "rich kids who think they can smuggle dope across the border". Hmmm..sounds like profiling to me. She tells them the reason that they were pulled aside in the first place is that their dog "lit" while sniffing their truck. All three of the boys say that the drug dogs were nowhere near them at any time, not that it would make a difference because they obviously had no dope. Agents just had to come up with some excuse to entertain themselves for a few hours and why not fuck with these three boys. After they are released, it takes them another hour to clean up the mess inside the truck and reload their damaged surfboards, guitars, and the rest of their gear, while the officers who tore the truck apart stood by and laughed.

I'm not one of those parents who think their kids do no wrong when they're not in my presence and I punish when punishment is due. But I know my son and I know his friends. These are good boys. Boys from homes of hardworking parents. Boys who appreciate what they have and don't take for granted the simple pleasures in life. These are boys who say "Yes Sir," and "No Ma'am," and know that the proper response to "Thank You" is "You're Welcome". These are boys who have been taught to respect authority, who open doors for women, and help a stranger in trouble. These are not spoiled rich kids. These are boys who are trusted because they have earned that trust. And yet, these boys were abused by people whom they have been told they could trust.

You hear all the time about kids who are always in trouble, but you don't always hear about the good kids. Here in front of you were some good kids, and you treated them like criminals for your entertainment. That's the kind of shit that turns good kids into bad kids. No good deed goes unpunished. Why be good when you get treated like crap by people who are supposed to be protecting you? How do we tell our kids that your jobs are thankless and hard and that they should respect you when you pull crap like this?

You abused your power and position. For the hours you spent needlessly harrassing these boys, how many people truly worthy of your attention slipped through? What is it you're protecting again? I would like to believe that for every bad officer, there are 50 good officers. I would like to believe it, but right now I don't. So to those officers who had a good laugh at my kid's expense...fuck you.