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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

More About the Border

After the last post on the border, I got emails from Arthur Reber and Mark Robbins, informing me that there existed a local committee, established by the Port Director some years ago, to provide a 2-way communication system between the people who live here and the CBP agents.  The group of about 10 people meets with some regularity.  I was told variously that it was a representative committee (with representatives from the Voters' Association, the Taxpayers' Association, and the Chamber of Commerce [correction: also PREP]; and that it was an ad hoc group, presumably cooked up by the Port Director and somebody to whom he was talking.  Anyone can go to the members of this committee and ask them to take a problem to the border people.  In at least some instances that were mentioned, the problem was specific, not generic: ie, how to deal effectively with the needs of horseowners to get medical care for their animals.  It was not clear to me that anybody took their personal issues with border interactions, although it was said that the Port Director specifically stated that he wanted individuals to bring their problems to him.

Nonetheless, if you ask a border person to make a complaint (in at least several instances I know about), you will be given a form to send to Washington, D.C.  So, maybe not so much.  There is, of course, the distinct vulnerability problem associated with making a complaint: unless you never leave the Point, or you have a lawyer on board during all crossings, you are likely to feel pretty vulnerable after filing a complaint to people who have a lot of not very regulated power to keep track of you or discipline you when next you meet in the Nexus or regular lanes.

Giving your complaint to this local committee presumably provides some protection for you, but then as one committee member said to me, "but of course we're then always operating on second-hand information."  So, making a complaint in these circumstances is not like returning a pair of shoes that don't fit: i.e., a reasonable and easy procedure.

The other major question that occurs to me is why have I never heard of this committee?  I'm pretty active in the community, particularly in the last five years.  I read the newspaper regularly, and not just because I write for the newspaper regularly, but I don't remember any articles about these meetings.  I attend lots of different group meetings and never heard it discussed.  I have all kinds of conversations with Robbins and Reber and I never recall their mentioning it.  Yesterday, I asked a dozen friends/acquaintances who are all permanent residents and active in the community if they'd ever heard of such a committee, and didn't hear a single, "Yes."

Well, if you didn't know about it either, now you do.  But knowing certainly provides me with more  concerns/questions than I had before.  However, I am told that the All Point Bulletin has now expressed interest in writing about the committee and I have been offered an invitation to the next meeting of the group.  I'm more enthusiastic about the former than the latter, I must say.

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