"Officer, I am an American citizen..."
The US Customs and Immigration officer asked me where I was going. "Home," I said and handed him my Canadian permanent resident card. There was nowhere else to go on this road immediately before the international boudary with Canada.
He asked the question twice. Then he said, "Unlock all the doors of your vehicle."
As I had approached the border that night, all lanes but one were blocked off by large black SUVs with no identification. There were about 10 young men and one of the vehicles had a rotary yellow light. Every vehicle was being stopped.
"Officer, I'm an American citizen, what seems to be the problem here?"I asked, complying with his request.
He indicated that he wouldn't believe me without identification and I produced my US passport. He then stated that this was a surprise check for illegal drugs. While this discussion was going on the side door of my van was opened by a couple of "agents" and the back doors of my van were opened as well.
"Officer, I have nothing to hide, but why are you searching people leaving the country?" I asked.
We do this frequently, just not all the time, he said. The team in back was prying plastic trim pieces off the interior wheel well protrusions in the back of my van. They said that these were frequent hiding places.
When I actually reached the true Canadian border I was met with standard inquiries as to items purchased abroad and courteously waved into my new country.
I was glad to be home.