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custom officials, travel

Crossing a border without proper I.D.? Mais Monsieur!

A short while ago, I wrote on my experiences dealing with custom officials from around the world.

Well, I was checking my daily BBC news and fell on a story that caught my interest:

“A Canadian man who forgot his passport has said that he managed to cross the border into the US using a copy of the document he had scanned on to his iPad.”- BBC

First thought: Wow! How cool is that!

While I know that people (probably rightfully so) tend to criticize US custom officials, this is a breath of fresh air and gives us a different impression of what a “typical” American custom agent behaves like. To put things straight, the Canadian did have a driving license, which is government certified, and the agent probably could have manually input the code (which is at the base of the passport page) into his computer to ID him.

Now, I know that some more right-wing individuals might tend to disagree with the behavior of the custom agent, and that it endangered national security etc, etc, etc.

Well possibly.

But that doesn’t change the fact that seeing somebody make an exception and actually “break” the cold, hard law is always a welcome distraction from the daily grind of our lives.

This article reminds me of one of my buddies who managed to live months on end with absolutely no ID travelling in Europe after losing his passport. He eventually got caught between France and Italy. However, he got away scot-free after he managed to produce a slip certifying his passport had been robbed, even if it had been eight months since the fact.

While I admit he physically looks quite the opposite of what typical racial-profiling European police would be looking for (blond, blue-eyed, thin and tall) it did make me think of double-standards.

Would the same US customs official have let in a Canadian if he hadn’t been a white Anglo-Saxon?

Just a thought, but I think I already know the answer…

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