Since Donald Trump has ascended to the White house, there's been endless talk about the wall, and border security, as a follow-up to his months-long promises to quash the untenable invasion of people from dozens of countries. There are often, when these issues are discussed, raised eyebrows at the status of our "northern border." The answer is that while thousands of illegals are not sneaking in through our northern border, the problem up in Canada is a lesser invasive element: smugglers, dopers, and unsavory trespassers who must be caught and turned back. These are different problems, but still requiring surveillance, monitoring, 24-hour-a-day shifts – tough standards and the latest high-tech equipment and electronics. I went to see for myself.
I was on an expedition with CIS (Center for Immigration Studies) on a border run, twelve of us in two commodious vans. My companions were also members of CIS, fascinating, often brilliant in their fields, and never dull – all ages and professions. We have government types, a three-star general, mining execs, top immigration experts, state committee heads, Heritage people, journos (me and a solid newspaper reporter who'd worked many years in Texas on a major paper), and others. All are strong Republicans and conservatives – and a pleasure to be with, as I have found over the years and several such border tours together.
We jinked into and out of Canada and the U.S. as we checked on various border crossings. In doing so, we traveled some 1,200 miles; took briefings from the U.S. and Canadian border patrols; talked with Canadian Mounties; and Q&Aed with Homeland Security, RESC, deportation and recovery people, and others in order to surveil and research infiltration and departing illegals.
This is my third such expedition – the two priors being along the southern border and Mexico, where we sat in court to observe judges dealing with caught illegals as well as spent time with border patrol outposts and such. We saw firsthand people waiting until nightfall to cross the fences and triple-barriers with ten-foot-wide sand "moats." These are set up to disclose illegal entry footprints as men drop from fencing or walls onto sand and make their way to surrounding grassy areas. We stopped at dozens of fencing and barriers in sporadic spots – not, of course, the continuous solid fencing or gates or barriers that have been called for repeatedly by Republicans.
We stayed on an Indian reservation, Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, several days, where I was distressed to see they had not a single computer for patrons. They had eyes only for one-armed bandits and lackaday cadaverous elderly throwing away their life savings on the cloud-cuckoo-land dream of windfall-winning at those sepulchral silver wish-seducing machines and smoke-shrouded craps tables.
Along the way to our appointed destinations ,two signs evoked laughter: RED LIVES MATTER. Further down the same rural road, another placard: EVEN BURNT RED LIVES MATTER!
They have everything dedicated to hauling in cash from the on-leave sanity of everyday locals on a long-term bender. The food in the Mohawk casino was plenteous and decidedly down-home (down-tent?), and drinks were humongous and constant. Entry tab for the craps table was $25 a chip, a tad steep for most. We drank juice mixes, did not gamble, and found the whole vista of American Indians recouping shekels from the local whites grimly scenic and histrionic. Dispiriting. Much of the attendee population was notably fond of dessert, as well as all the fixin's of any other food group, judging by the girth of their expansive belts.
In Vermont, we stopped in at an ancient library cum opera house, something out of Harry Potter in its crenellations and 19th-century spires. Quite charming – but the town standout is that it is where The Beatles reputedly congregated when they were trying to reunite with John Lennon, who, owing to his known use of weed, was denied entry into the States back in the day. Tough call.
In Vermont, Ben & Jerry HQ was just down the street in one town. Though we may eat their product, we disagree with them on most lib-lub everything, including U.S. politics, climate, defense, and the rest of the political.
Burlington for the Tall Ships coincided with our landing there the very weekend this regatta dropped anchor, only once every few years. Bevies of patriotic folk scooting about, boarding this ship or that, centuries-old ships and combat frigates or whatever. For purchase: Hudson Bay thick green, yellow, red-on-white field stripes on everything, everything you can conceive of.
It struck me that the source of these quintessentially "American" tchotchkes and dust-collectors was originally American Indian in style, design, execution, and finish.
The Canadian crossing checkpoints and passport outposts were unfriendly and cool, asking us endless questions, likely because we were six or seven people per van, filled with non-related people from all points in the U.S., without a reasonable rationale for why we were together. (We had a reason, but the passport control guys did not understand why anyone would care about infiltration or illegal aliens.)
We were denied entry to Canada, our closest ally, at one outpost coming from the state of Vermont. One of us had apparently committed some sort of youthful indiscretion; the Canadian border patrol grilled this person for a long time, twice, and discovered whatever it was in the shady past that was deemed a no-no, and boom, we were all denied entry. Had to turn both vans around and go back. Only one point in six or seven entry points featured a guy who was welcoming and friendly and just scanned our passports and smilingly wished us well. All the others were brisk and seriously professional – skeptical of everything we said. Polite, but no funny business.
In Ottawa, we popped in to eat at a surefire Hillary fave, a restaurant called...Pinocchio, which evoked a laugh when I mentioned the evident analogy to colleagues. One immediately stated, quoting a major politico in his past, "When you hear a good line, steal it." I amended it to Four Pinocchios for Hillary. She gets that award often, according to the still fawning media.
Cameras are everywhere, even remote farms and outposts, unused roads, where we were viewing illegal crossover sites (night only – we were in daytime). Soon, we pulled up to some overgrown, weed-choked back road with STOP in huge letters on a scruffy pole, along with ARRET on the reverse side. Very soon, two or three guys in border patrol or Mountie insignia would haul up alongside and ask what we were doing and why we were there. This is in marked contrast to the astringent lack of border patrol presence on the southern border, a direct consequence of former president Obama's peculiar directives to ignore or overlook insurgent illegals at border points and all along the unmonitored areas of the border states.
We spent considerable time with retired and welcoming border patrol vets, often accompanying us, all of whom were delighted to spend time taking us around to well known alien hotspots they regularly surveiled. We went to a patrol HQ, where this super-ripped honcho in an olive drab T-shirt and cargo pants, the head guy at the HQ, a pistol slung at his hip, showed us around the patrol realm, their ATVs, the handcuffs, the computers, holding stalls for men, separate quarters for women, and explained the procedures of how long they could hold 'em before they had to fold 'em, feed any detainees every six hours. All regulated. By-the-book proper. The border guys all delighted to see our committed group, traveling with their veteran retired buddies.
Border police and all their crews have gotten precious little public acclaim or support, so our troupe of a dozen anti-illegal invasion investigators was a standout wherever we stopped in these precincts, among these dedicated and hardworking men and women. Under the present administration, it is great to report, morale is miles better than under its predecessor. President Trump has issued outright support and fulsome praise for these hardworking men – professionals often endangered by their jobs, as well as by the shadowy underworld they have to deal with night and day.