Borders – if it’s hard even for locals then how do you get through?

I’m a fan of open borders, and it is far too hard these days to move between countries. What’s really scary are these cases of US citizens, highlighted by a diarist in Daily Kos, who were detained by US immigration in some pretty horrible circumstances.

It seems mostly to be people that are incapable of defending themselves due to mental health or other issues, and along with that those who are not rich enough to get a decent lawyer on the case.

In an organisaton as large as the US immigration and custms services and dealing with the number of people that they do, mistakes do happen. These should have been fixed more rapidly, but the scary thing about all immigration agencies at borders is that their power is essentially absolute – they can do anything to you, and your own country’s diplomatic protection doesn’t go that far.

For me the strategy that works is honesty and great documentation, and the tactic that works is immeasureable patience and calmness when crossing borders, particularly land borders. I’ve crossed into over 70 countries on land, many multiple times, and those two techniques are the ones that get me through with least pain.

Several times I’ve had documentation or circumstances that has been less than adequate, and aside from one case where the country essentially placed me into a catch 22 situation, I have been upfront with the people on the border. (That country wouldn’t let me legally extend my bike’s permission, and wouldn’t even allow me to truck the bike to the border). I’m also honest when answering questions – unless they are about how much money I have on me and where it is stored :-).

The patience is assisted by a good book, sunhat/raingear, plenty of water, food and most of all, no timetable to keep. The longest wait I’ve had was 2 days – and that was due to out of date paperwork on my part. I’ve had more than one 1-day wait, though in all cases I was able to stay in a town rather than camp at the border. Other than that the longer crossings take a few hours to get me, my bike and goods through customs, road transport and immigration on both sides of the border.

Published by Lance Wiggs