My experiences with the border patrol and U.S. Customs have not been per say traumatic, but they have impacted me in a way that I am nervous around them. I am a US citizen. They can do absolutely nothing to me and yet I get anxious in their presence. One specific experience that still haunts me to this day is one time I crossed walking with my dad. The custom started asking me a lot of questions. They interrogated and intimidated me as much as they could. My dad just stood there and saw what was happening. The custom asked me who I stayed with, what their status was and where I lived. He just kept throwing questions at me. At one point he let us go. I was really nervous after that because I was scared I would jeopardize the lives of my family members if I said something wrong. Since then, I am really nervous every time I cross the border. I have never crossed as the driver, always the passenger while crossing in a car.
Crossing by walking makes me really nervous because of that interrogation I went through. I have crossed while being drunk believe it or not. Most of my friends including me were underage at the time so we had to go to Nogales Sonora, México if we wanted to go out and drink. One time, my friends and I went to have dinner and had a drink or two. The last drink I ordered came a little late and my friends already wanted to go. They didn’t pressure me or anything, but I ended up drinking way too fast and it got me tipsy. I was laughing at everything. My other friend was pretty tipsy as well so we looked like idiots. If it wasn’t for one of my friends being a responsible designated driver, I am not sure we would have been safe. My friend told me to act normal because we were going to cross the border. I kept laughing and walking weird while saying, “act normal! ACT NORMAL! AcT nOrMaL.” When we were in line I had an inner fight with myself to keep it together, but my drunk self had too much control by this time. When the custom gave me the rude sign with his hand to go with him I was feeling dizzy. I grabbed on to the desk pretty tightly and leaned forward to look him in the eyes. My friend later told me that I almost put my chichis in his face. He asked me where I was going and I said, “Tucson” and in my head, I was like, “no dumbass! You are going to Rio Rico.” Then the custom asked me, “what was the reason for your visit?…visiting family?” I was like “mhm” I was not about to say, “no we actually came to drink because we are underage so we went to the club that is just a couple of blocks away.” So all I could enunciate was mhm. My friend still laughs at me for saying that. At some point he gave me my passport back with a concerned look on his face, debating whether or not he should let me go. Our designated driver was the last to cross and she told us that the custom asked her if she was with my friend and I and when she said yes, he told her to take care of us. The fact that I am so nervous when crossing prevents me from going to visit my friends and family more often.
Pictures by Nick Oza. Imported from the article “Washington lawmakers stuck on border security panel” by Dan Nowicki, The Arizona Republic. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/04/border-security-watchdog-panel/1961555/