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Author Topic: US Border Patrol Searches - Lake Shore Limited
Gilbert B Norman
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OK, let's give this material another try:

This past Monday, The New York Times printed this front page "above the fold" article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/30/nyregion/30border.html

Brief passage:

  • ROCHESTER — The Lake Shore Limited runs between Chicago and New York City without crossing the Canadian border. But when it stops at Amtrak stations in western New York State, armed Border Patrol agents routinely board the train, question passengers about their citizenship and take away noncitizens who cannot produce satisfactory immigration papers.

    “Are you a U.S. citizen?” agents asked one recent morning, moving through a Rochester-bound train full of dozing passengers at a station outside Buffalo. “What country were you born in?”
Today The Times has editorialized regarding the practices outlined within the Monday article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/01/opinion/01wed2.html

Brief passage:

  • Administration officials, including the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, have recently said their top priority is catching convicted criminals, gang members and other dangerous immigrants. We welcome the call for restraint and discretion in using limited resources. Someone should tell the Border Patrol.
Possibly some here may choose to discuss the propriety of these activities. Should anyone have problems with the Times reportage, here is the e-address of their Public Editor - the nature and scope of such position is outlined here:

public@nytimes.com

Posts: 9388 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Geoff Mayo
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The former article was discussed rather heatedly on another forum I frequent (non-rail). It boiled down to your alleged freedom of travel within your own country without the need for ID, compared to the need to intercept criminals or illegal immigrants. Add the side subject of racial selection where a white European person in the US illegally gets ignored while a non-white Asian who is a US citizen gets dragged off the bus/train and interrogated, and the result was pages and pages of argument. Not pretty.
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irishchieftain
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The left is attempting to exploit every tactic. Nothing "illegal" about what the border police are doing; they've been doing this for ages. My own experience on the Sunset Limited in 1988 speaks to this.
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Mike Smith
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This authorization is a part of our US law. If Congress didn't approve, they could change it.

The US law far exceeds Arizona's law.

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Ocala Mike
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So, if it's perfectly legal and appropriate, why aren't sleeper passengers extended the same "courtesy" as coach passengers? I say level the playing field and harass everyone equally.

If our legislators frequented the rails (they do not with certain exceptions), this stuff would be unheard of.

I think I'm as troubled or more so by the "class" profiling as I am by the "racial/ethnic" profiling.

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TwinStarRocket
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The Border Patrol checks out the Empire Builder in Havre MT too. Everyone I saw them choose (checked id and searched bags) looked Hispanic and young. Geographically this seems odd. They should look for people in red plaid shirts carrying hockey sticks who end sentences in "eh?". Then I would feel safe.
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Mike Smith
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Ocala, it is called criminal profiling, and has been a legitimate technique of law enforcement forever.

There is a huge probability that illegal aliens will be in coach and not the sleepers, so the Border Patrol spends their time where it is most productive. This is basic common sense and logic on the use of the Agent's time.

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zephyr
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quote:
Originally posted by TwinStarRocket:
They should look for people in red plaid shirts carrying hockey sticks who end sentences in "eh?". Then I would feel safe.

I'd feel safer too.
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smitty195
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Criminal profiling, or just plain "profiling", has been turned into "racial profiling" by the media over the last several years. The masses are so gullible when the media decide to blow things up like this, that the facts get glossed over. The fact of the matter is that profiling WORKS, and it works damn well. If it wasn't so politically incorrect, then you wouldn't see Grandma getting the strip search by TSA agents at airports, while Mohammed Hussein Gumandi Habeeb from Pakistan walks through without a second glance. It's because we have to be "fair and random". Yeah, a lot of damn good that does.....

Is profiling perfect? No. Is ANY system perfect? No. But what is the BEST system? For anyone who has ever worked in law enforcement, that answer is easy: profiling. I for one gladly welcome the Border Patrol agents boarding the train and checking things out. Remember---it doesn't mean they're ONLY looking for terrorists. They're looking for drug-runners and other criminals, too. They may have been given a tip on someone on that train who is wanted, and they are pulling off people who fit the description. Who knows? All I can say is, good job, keep it up, and THANK YOU for keeping us safe.

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notelvis
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Will the agents have those little flashy things like Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith did in that movie?

--------------------
David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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sojourner
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They do sort of check sleeper passengers, Ocala Mike--at least if the sleeper passengers are in the observation/lounge car or dining car (as I usually am) or on the platform in Havre too. I have been checked in both Havre and Erie PA, and I'm not Hispanic or particularly dark. In fact, they seemed to check everyone in the cars or spots I was in. However, the extent of the checking consisted of asking me if I was a US citizen and when I said yes, they moved on.

I have nothing against criminal profiling (even if race is a part of it) and I have nothing against checking of people who look more physically capable of committing crimes (young men, as opposed to old women, for example). I think all this hugh (sp?) and cry about racial profiling is absurd and think any on the "left" who bellyache about it are idiots, because it's stupid stuff like that that only helps the right in this country elect a bunch of douchbags who vote against important things I think the left is right on (like funding Amtrak).

That being said, I do think profiling to find terrorists, or terrorist explosive devices, will not work so well--wasn't it an Irish or English girlfriend who inadvertently carried a bomb onto that plane in Lockerbie? I forget . . . but anyway, for this, they would do much better if they checked luggage, not passengers, and used bomb-sniffing dogs.

And if the purpose of these checks is to find illegal aliens (rather than terrorists), then it would be a better allotment of personnel to do the checking on the Sunset Ltd, not the Empire Builder and Lakeshore Ltd.

Note: I have never been checked in Rochester NY but am assuming it's similar to Erie, in the other direction--since LSL goes through Erie in the middle of the night westbound. (I rarely take the LSL west any more.)

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Judy McFarland
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I've had my luggage sniffed in Havre, presumably by a drug-seeking dog - but I was only aware of it because on that trip I was in one of the sleeper rooms on the lower level. I have seen the dogs on the platform on other trips through Havre.

I've taken the LSL out of Rochester westbound & never seen any checking for illegals or drugs.

I'm wondering if in the NEC they are more rigorous in checking ID when purchasing tickets? Service disruption on those busy commuter lines would be more disruptive than hanky panky on the Empire Builder. Not that I'm suggesting more security hold-ups. but it you can receive your tickets in the mail, how can they be checking the IDs for those?

--------------------
My new "default" station (EKH) has no baggage service or QuikTrak machine, but the parking is free! And the NY Central RR Museum is just across the tracks (but not open at Amtrak train times. . ..)

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notelvis
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I was asked about my citizenship by a border patrol officer on the platform during a fresh air break in Del Rio, TX once.

I said yes and the man went on about his job. Nothing to see here folks.

Sojourner - I like your assessment of right vs. left. I disagree with much of what comes from the right but I have no interest in just marching along with the left...... takes too much energy (with little to show for it) to get indignant about nearly everything.

I think an Amtrak poster that I saw the last time I was in Washington Union Station sums it up for me best - riding a train (not specifically Amtrak) is where my love of the outdoors meets my love of the recliner!

--------------------
David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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Ocala Mike
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quote:
Originally posted by Judy McFarland:
[QB] I've had my luggage sniffed in Havre, presumably by a drug-seeking dog - /QB]

Here are the ultimate links regarding drug-sniffing dogs and travel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vI3kbAjI4yI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4y1Asq2hic

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Ocala Mike
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One final (I hope) thought on the subject of criminal profiling, which has been around "forever":


“History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure”
– Thurgood Marshall

--------------------
Ocala Mike

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amtrak92
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Well I'm going to put my two cents in now. I think this is wrong in a free country. I mean it is so hard to sleep on a train, and they interrupt you, I would be so mad. But when they say in text books, that the US-Canada boarder is the longest friendly boarder in the world, it doesn't sound like that. I mean, look at how far the illegals from Mexican have to come to get to those trains. I don't even think it is right on the Sunset Limited. I think we just need to start getting serious about keeping them off our soil, as then they wouldn't be on our trains.

Now I'm opposed to racial profiling, as that basically takes us back to the Civil rights. No group shall be discriminated when I'm around. You can ask any of my friends, I don't let them use those words to describe any one. But back on topic. I don't think they should do this in a free country.

As a journalist I need to report on this. So thank you GBN for the story.

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smitty195
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If a bank robbery occurs, and the suspect description is 2 Asian males wearing all black clothing, does that mean that the police should stop all white and black women to see if they are the bank robbery suspects? What would happen if the police decided to stop Asian males wearing all black clothing? I guess that would be racial profiling and is a big no-no.

The reason liberals are against profiling (the media made up the term "racial" profiling....it's simply called "profiling") is because IT WORKS. Profiling has been going on for years, and will continue going on, no matter how hard the ACLU tries to allow the bad guys to get away with crimes. We've become so darn sensitive in this country that we can't see the forest for the trees.

If it's 3 o'clock in the morning in a wealthy, gated, mansion-style community where most people drive BMW's, Rolls Royce's, Bentley's, Mercedes, etc, etc, etc.....and then along comes a low-rider with 4 young Hispanic males slowly cruising the neighborhood, would the residents be justified in calling 911 to report a suspicious vehicle? Would the police be justified in pulling the car over? Depending on the circumstances (which I know can vary from case to case), the generic answer is YES, you bet your a*s that they can be pulled over. Do they look out of place? Of course they do. Is it guaranteed that they are there to do criminal activity? No. Could they be visiting a relative at 3 in the morning? Yes. But profiling is how the police catch bad guys. When things don't add up and it can be articulated in a police report, that's called good police work. But the ACLU calls the officers "racists" and demands that they be fired.

We've become a society of people who have lost all common sense.

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smitty195
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I should add......care to guess how the Secret Service protects the President of the United States (and other dignitaries)? Yup--PROFILING. Imagine that.
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train lady
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no, Smitty. Not everyone. Just the tearjerkers who wouldn't know reality if they fell over it. Does it not seem strange that these people who are so upset about so called profiling don't make a sound when they are stopped for a traffic violation and have to show the officer their drivers license?
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chrisg
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I seen the border partol on the old San Diegans at Oceanside ride the train to San Juan Capistrano, Empire Builder at Havre and Lake Shore at Buffalo. They have always been proffessional and I feel they do the jobs well.
Never have been talk too and I stay out of there
way.

One time on the Sunset Limited though I wished
they would have been at El Paso coming westbound.
It was one wild night in a Sleeping Car.

Chris

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mr williams
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Issues like this always raise the hackles. Of course the police should sort out criminals and terrorists but heaven help them if they "harrass" law abiding citizens like you and me. I've travelled widely, especially to the US (12 trips since 9/11)so have observed some things first hand.

I was on the SW Chief about seven or eight years ago and there had been a number of incidents of criminals using Amtrak to smuggle drugs in/out of LA, and Federal Marshalls had carried out high profile inspections on a number of trains.

At dinner I was talking to a white, middle-aged, middle-class, law-abiding American lady who had been on one of those trains and her exact words were "I felt violated" at being questioned about her identity, movements and intentions.

Understandable - and I can empathise. About five years ago there was a massive bank raid in the UK (about $50 million dollars was taken) and I was flying to Europe the next morning. The police were checking EVERYBODY at the airport. I decided not to tell the officer that under UK law I did not need to explain why I was leaving the country and it was none of his business....

However, where I can sympathise with those who complain about "profiling" is that on every occasion when I have returned to the UK from the through Heathrow I, along with 250-odd other passengers, have gone through the green "nothing to declare" channel. About five people out of 250 would be pulled out at random for a check....and I have never once seen a white person selected.

And finally, a letter in one of our national newspapers a few years ago, in reply to somebody had written in with the frequent assertion of "if the description is of a black male youth why stop a white grandmother" etc...

....the respondant said yes, that's fair enough, but what upsets ethnic minorities is that even if the description WAS, unusually, that the suspect was a white grandmother the police would still still find an excuse to stop and question a young black male....

Ouch!

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