Since constitution free zones have been put into place, Customs and Border Patrol have encroached into the once sovereign United States under the guise of protecting its citizens. One such place where CBP is now a regular fixture is on Amtrak. On the Lake Shore Limited line, which never stops at a border point, CBP frequently makes checks of everyone on the train.
While it is true that the line never enters Canada or stops at a border check point, it does stop in cities near water, such as Buffalo and Chicago. Because these cities are within the 100-mile zone of the United States’ border, CBP now have some jurisdiction over policing Amtrak.
These new powers allow them to harass every single person on the train by asking them their country of citizenship. If you answer with an accent, by admission of the CBP officer in the video below, you are suspicious. Refuse to answer and you’re considered suspicious. Any suspicion and the CBP will remove you from the train.
One thing that I noticed is that these are supposed to be random searches, yet everyone is asked what country they hold citizenship from. Near the beginning, someone refuses to answer. Their voice sounds American and CBP move on. Later, when the woman filming doesn’t want to give any personal information, the CBP tells her, half-joking that now she is acting suspicious. He then helps remove a couple from the train. They then asked when the next train was, indicating that they wouldn’t be detained long, but there isn’t enough information to truly know how long they were going to be detained for. It is unclear why the couple have been removed from the train because the woman filming was talking and the CBP and the couple were speaking in low voices.
There are three important and curious items of not in this video. First, it appears that the couple was merely asked if they had luggage and that they should take it with them when they were escorted off the train. If they were truly terrorists, they would leave a package or two behind to blow up the train. CBP never tried to ascertain whose luggage was whose. This is a major flaw in security. It would also be common sense to match all luggage with its owners before allowing the train to continue. Since this is an exercise in security theater, however, doing so is unnecessary.
The second problem with the type of security CBP is providing is the fact that by merely having an accent, you are suspicious. Considering the fact that there are numerous accents in the US, will Southerners or Texans be suspects as well? What if you have a naturalized citizen who, even after living in the US for decades, still retain their original accent? They have already passed numerous tests and background checks by state and federal authorities. The federal government cleared them and allowed them to become citizens. Now, however, CBP has decided you’re a terrorist suspect because you talk funny. This is an absolutely absurd way to pick terrorist suspects out of a crowd of people on a train. It is inept policing and harassment of the general populace.
The third thing that I have noticed in the video is the fact that CBP allowed filming. They did not seem bothered at all that the woman was recording what they were doing. While it is perfectly legal to film law enforcement officials, many people have fallen afoul of police who are overzealous and/or abusive and don’t want any evidence of their wrongdoing. It is a pleasant surprise that none of these CBP officers were bothered by the video camera.
Since we don’t seem to be able to stop the CBP and their “random” searches for now, we should continue to refuse to give our country of origin and always have a camera handy. Until the law changes and more people fight against this invasion of free travel, we need to equip ourselves with tools that will not only keep the CBP in check, but our rights as well.