Mar 17, 2009, 12:36 PM
Post #7 of 7
I have been following a very long thread on another forum/board in which the participants have been discussing the shabby (major understatement) treatment some of them have received during "secondary" searches while crossing the border into Arizona at Nogales. I do not recall if this was the downtown or the truck crossing, or possibly both.
While the main crux of the discussion was about the abysmal treatment received, mention was made of computers, and that they are subject to search and seizure, as are jump drives, external harddrives, and all other electronic data storage devices, and they need virtually zero reason or cause to do it. You will get a receipt and someday you might get your computer back.
And, just as authorities who conduct searches are frequently not very careful how they handle and treat the items, cars, houses, they are searching, you ought not expect your computer or other device be returned to you in the same condition you relinquished it.
The stories and complaints written on that forum on this subject have convinced me to make sure I have my laptop thoroughly backed up and I leave the backup at home. I remove anything and everything I would not want my mother to see, as well as any financial or any other sensitive information. I guess a good rule of thumb would be, if you would not like to see the information displayed under your name publicly on some blog or website, remove it before you cross the border, whether on the ground, or by air.
There is a push among some of the participants of the forum I refer to to document their experiences at the border. The consul in Hermosillo has been informed and was apparently not impressed. Others have contacted congressional representatives and received little or no satisfaction. It is the Patriot Act and with that act went away many of the rights we were used to. No point getting huffy and officious about any of it. It won't do any good. The authorities need no special reason to detain you or to search your computer, your person, your luggage, your vehicle.
I hope this is limited to the border crossing in Nogales, but I am not holding my breath.