"Who's in Charge?"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, August 6, 2010

On Wednesday, July 28, 2010 a federal judge temporarily threw out portions of the proposed Arizona immigration law.

In her ruling, Judge Susan Bolton suggested the temporary injunction would give both support and opposition sides time to take a closer look at the law and perhaps reconsider parts of it.

The greatest opposition by many members of the Hispanic community was to the part they labeled as “racial profiling.” Some parties on both sides of the controversy agree immigration problems should be handled by federal enforcement officers.

The fear of profiling was heard but I believe the results may be less compliant than what is presently proposed. Federal officers are trained to do their jobs in a forceful style. They do not show a great amount of compassion or understanding while executing their duties; they take charge of any situation and act in a swift, stern manner. They don’t spend a lot of time discussing what they are going to do, they simply do it. Should you fall under the jurisdiction of federal officers executing their duties, you will have little or no questions as to who is in charge.

If you’re wondering how I can make the above statements with such firm conviction, I will relate my story. On the same day Judge Bolton ruled on Arizona’s SB 1070, I fell into a situation involving the jurisdiction of federal officers on the Canadian/U.S. border. The encounter took place on the American side of the Blue Water Bridge over the St. Clair River.

My wife and I with friends had just crossed the bridge from the Ontario side and were entering the United States at Port Huron. As we sat in the waiting area next in line for customs, I noticed additional officers come near the booths on each side of our approach lane. They released the vehicle ahead of us and we slowly pulled ahead. My friend was driving and he had his window down. We were all prepared to present our proof of citizenship.

All four of us in the car had made this trip many times and we were expecting to hear the usual questions: Where are you from? Where have you been? Are you bringing anything purchased in Canada and do you have any weapons? Well, we got a big surprise. After taking our IDs the customs officer in the booth, speaking in a very demanding voice asked, “Which one of you had medical testing?” We responded none of us. My wife was on her phone in the back seat and the officer screamed at her, “Turn it off now.”

He then said, “I’m only going to ask once more, who had a medical test?” I responded, “Do you mean in Canada? He said, “No, anywhere.”

At this point, I nervously recalled and told him: “I had a nuclear bone scan yesterday morning.”

After my response, the officer very sternly told my friend to follow the officer in front of our car. Another officer had taken a position in front of our car and he led us through a maze line area between vehicles which were obviously set up to prevent us from making a break and trying to run. That would not have been a good idea as I noted customs vehicles idling alongside the barrier wall ahead.

This encounter was all very surprising and puzzling. I received the bone scan the prior day at Scheurer Hospital beginning at 7 am. I was given a very small shot into my vein on the back of my hand and told to return at 10 a.m. for the scan. The technician assured me the 25.3 mCi of radiation isotope would be out of my system that same day.

Little did he know.

As we followed the customs officer who was walking in front of our car, he took us through an arch looking device then directed us to stop. I was told to get out and was led to a small booth size building. Another customs officer, carrying a scanning device that sounded like a Geiger counter, scanned my body from head to toe and told me to remain in the booth. At this point, another customs officer, who apparently never heard of HEPA laws, asked me a list of questions and noted my answers.

The officer who had escorted me to the booth and scanned me went over to my friend’s vehicle and scanned all around it, including the wheel wells. He then told my friend to back up through the arch device and pull ahead and park. Once their paperwork was completed they told me I was free to go. It was getting dark and as we continued our ride home we were glad to note I did not glow in the dark.

My wife called our daughter that she was on the phone with and explained what had occurred. She had been quite worried because she heard the officer shout. We all agreed we did not mind any part of the procedure and felt much safer as a result.

If any readers wonder why I chose to relate this event, think about the fact a tiny mCi of radioactive ingredient that had been in my system for over 36 hours was detected while I was sitting in an enclosed vehicle with the windows up and air conditioning and engine running.

The detection was made before we approached the customs booth and security was increased and put in place immediately. I was told if I had denied having a test things would have gone much differently.

As I see it, those challenging the Arizona SB1070 law may prefer to face a little racial profiling by local officers than answer questions asked by federal or border patrol officers.


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