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The post here about unsecured borders of the world (which is to say, unsecured borders of the European Union) is going around again.

The last time I saw this post going around, there were a whole bunch of comments expressing shock that not all borders are heavily restricted. And while it did sadden me to see so many people unaware that not all borders are like…whichever borders it was they were thinking of†, it also saddened me to see them walking away with the idea that the intra-EU method is necessarily what it means to have a non-heavily-restricted border.

So, I’m repurposing this post I made in 2015.

Shown above is the border between Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario. (Note that my description of what border crossings are *typically* like will be describing Niagara Falls, but Sarnia is the picture I had lying around, and the one time I went through Sarnia the experience was about the same.)

The border crossing itself took maybe two minutes, and mostly because the border guard chatted about the good things he’s heard about our town. One minute for the crossing itself is more typical, plus another minute for each car ahead of you in line (but we usually cross on weekday afternoons, when the lines tend to be short).

Usually they’ll ask you where you’re going (or where you went), why, and for how long. (*Occasionally* they won’t even do that, if you show the passport of the country you’re entering, but for the most part they still do it if you’re a citizen.) Most answers I have had cause to give (“shopping for a few hours”, “visiting relatives for a week”, “Disney World!”), they just nod and wave you through, and possibly make a note so they can check if you tell the same story on your way back. If you show a U.S. passport and tell them you’re going to Canada because you live there, they will sometimes ask why you moved, but they don’t press further if you just say you like it there.

While they reserve the right to search your stuff if you give inconsistent answers to their questions or have clearly-visible contraband or maybe show a passport from a country they’re on shaky terms with or something, they do not search you by default. If you went shopping, they ask you how much you bought (and sometimes to see your receipts as well), and if your answers indicate that you’re over the duty-free limit on anything they send you over to a nearby building to pay your import taxes, which takes a few extra minutes.

I just wanted people to know that border security isn’t binary, that there exist places where there *are* guards and you *do* have to show a passport but it’s *not* a big ordeal.

I don’t have any strong opinions about what borders should be like in general: I don’t feel that I’m well enough informed on that, and TBH I’m mostly just trying to survive right now and don’t really have the energy to get well informed. (though I’d certainly be annoyed if they started making it an ordeal to go grocery shopping in New York)

But if you’re looking to develop an opinion on border security, please remember that “more borders should be like US/Canada” is a possible stance. There’s more than one way to guard a border, and you can think some ways are going too far without wanting to go full EU (and conversely, you can want to not go full EU but still think some ways are going too far).

†If you’re someone who was shocked, let me know which borders you think of when thinking of country borders. I’m curious to see where exactly our experiences differ.


#oh look an original post #(close enough) #our home and cherished land #home of the brave #the more you know

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  1. Pingback: Brinens and Things

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