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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

Psychological Abuse at the Northern Border

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currently representing a citizen of lace w:st="on">Canadalace> who has been placed in
immigration court proceedings.  I can't get
into the legal details of her case, but suffice it to say that she has no
criminal convictions, no history of immigration violations, and has never in
her life had any problems with violating the law, U.S. or otherwise.

The main purpose of this blog post is to shed
light on what is going on at our northern border and illuminate the treatment
that non lace w:st="on">United Stateslace>
citizens and more specifically what Citizens of Canada are subjected to at the
hands of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

In this particular
instance, when my client arrived at the United States she was driving from
Canada with her husband and two young children to go shopping.  After being sent to secondary inspection, the
Customs and Border Protection Enforcement Officer "enforced" his will on my
client and my client's family.

My client
was held with her children for six hours, and during this time her young children
were not permitted to eat.  She and her
husband were fingerprinted, had their pictures taken to simulate criminal prosecution,
and she was told that if she did not cooperate and satisfactorily answer the
officer's questions that both she and her husband would be taken into custody,
and that child protection services would be immediately contacted who would then
take her children from her.  They may as
well have told her that they were going to chop off her arm, because it had the
exact same desired effect.

When my
client heard that the lace w:st="on">United
government intended to take her
children from her she literally let out an audible gasp, to which the officer
replied: "So you think that's funny."  At
this point my client was willing to sign anything put in front of her so long
as she was assured that she would be allowed to go back to lace w:st="on">Canadalace> with her

If this
were an isolated incident I would chalk it up to a single rogue officer acting
inappropriately.  Unfortunately, this
incident is symptomatic of the systematic psychological abuse that regularly
occurs at the hand of our Government. I say this because
I regularly hear stories from clients of the psychological abuse that they are
subjected to when merely trying to come to the lace w:st="on">United Stateslace> to go shopping. 

I have heard reports of individuals being handcuffed to
radiators overnight, being denied access to the bathroom, and being screamed at
that they were going to be held indefinitely, and that if they don't cooperate
they are going to jail. 

officers are regularly abrasive, rude, unprofessional, and intimidating.  The government's modus operandi is to scare
an individual to the point that they are willing to sign their life away.  It works. 

What makes
this type of abuse so effective is that at the border the investigating
officers have the power to make summary determinations as to the eligibility of
individuals to enter the United States, and if they believe that someone is not
eligible to be admitted to the United States, or has misstated their intention
in any material or in most cases non-material way, they have the power to bar
that individual from the United States for a period of five years.  This process is called expedited

someone is expeditiously removed, they have no right to an attorney, no right
to appear before a judge, and no right to appeal the determination of the
inspecting officer.  The inspecting
officer is in essence the judge, jury, and executioner. 

Moreover, the individual is required to sign
the expedited removal order, and their signature in many cases is obtained
under threat of criminal prosecution. 
When given the option, most people will sign anything just to be able to
get back in their car and drive back to lace w:st="on">Canadalace>.

Needless to
say, not all officers on our northern border act unprofessionally, but I have heard enough examples of
ill treatment of Citizens of Canada from various ports of entry that I am
convinced that this is not an isolated problem, and felt compelled to write
about it.  I'm also making a formal
inquiry with Customs and Border Protection.

>>I agree
that our Officers on the northern border have both a difficult and important
job to do.  Terrorism is a very real and
active threat to our country.  That being
said, the severity of the threat to our country does not excuse this type of
behavior and allowing it to continue is in essence our condoning it.  Our good neighbors to the north simply
deserve better.>>

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  1. Randall Caudle's Avatar
    Keep us updated on what happens with this, Matthew. Some CBP officers are out of control, do not know immigration law, and are mean, nasty individuals. These officers make all of CBP look bad, including all of the good officers.

    Carl Shusterman also has an incredible story about what CBP did to his clients he has blogged about.

    Good luck, Matthew!
  2. John Brannigan's Avatar
    Gee, we Americans are so nieve, this has been going on for years at the Embassy level. before USCIS/Homeland insecurity came into being myself and my Guatemalan wife could travel freely to the US. Even before we were married, INS was always curtiuous and helpful. Now you are a criminals when you walk in the door "vere es ture pepers" The parellels between nazi germany's gestapo and uscis is astounding. Wake Up America!
  3. Marc Seguinot's Avatar
    Matthew, I keep up with your bloggings; as a fellow immigration attorney here in Northern VA, outside of DC, you relate a very common problem. It gets worse within the doors of USCIS where U.S. citizen spouses are intimidated into withdrawing petitions based on threats that they will be arrested for "sham marriages," where there is no evidence or indication that the couple married fraudulently. I have seen it in action, have had clients to which this practice has been imposed upon, and have heard enough complaints that I am disgusted at the lengths that many in our government will go to dehumanize and disrespect many individuals who pass through the doors of our DHS. So, your experience is not new, as you know; I just want you to know that this practice is more common than not. We need more oversight and get less and less. Good luck!
  4. Mark DeWitt's Avatar
    Thank you for taking the time to write this article. It is very informative and very scary.
    I am a Canadian who travels to the US 50 to 60 times a year on business or to visit our son who lives with his family in the great state of Virginia.
    As things have evolved since 9/11 I have noticed a marked difference between the attitude of CBP officers at Canadian airport ports of entry to the US as opposed to the attitude at land crossings. Without wanting to offend anyone, I have begun attributing the difference to the fact that the airport CBP officers reside in Canada and seem to have lost the Bunker/Fortress America mentality that has become so pervasive in some sectors in your country.
    I do not discount the advisability of all countries remaining vigilant against the threat of terrorism, I just wonder whether the apparent 'hypervigilance' in the US serves some political agenda.
    Thanks again for the information. I hope to read updates on the outcome of this families unbelievable trials.
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