Letters to the Editor -- August 05, 2004

Published on Thu, Aug 5, 2004
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Letters to the Editor

The Editor:
Last Tuesday evening I read a letter to the editor in your newspaper at the request of my neighbor.
I am a Canadian and she is an American and she wanted my perspective on the letter from the mother whose daughter was harassed at the U.S. border.
I read the letter and intended to talk to my neighbor about it the following evening but was unable to do so because the exact same thing happened to me the following day and I was refused entry to the U.S!
I have kept my boat at Semiahmoo Marina for the last five years. We have always loved our time at Semiahmoo and are happy to support local businesses such as Cost Cutter, Semiahmoo Resort, Blockbuster, and local gas stations just to name a few.
I have had PACE and NEXUS since its inception and have never had an infraction. I have a home in White Rock and both my husband and I own businesses in White Rock.
I am not a criminal. But I now feel like one. I was held up at U.S. customs and bullied for two hours on Wednesday night by an obnoxious officer. I remained polite the whole time and cooperated with his demands.
After supplying him with everything he asked for he refused me entry and confiscated my NEXUS because he would not believe that I lived in White Rock.
According to him, I have to own a house, not rent one, and he did not like the fact that I owned a boat but not a house. Is owning a home now a requirement? Does permanent residence not apply to rentals?
If this is the case, many more people are subjecting themselves to two hours of bullying at the hands of an overzealous customs agent just because he feels like asserting his power over you.
The merchants of Blaine should be very distressed to hear how visitors are being treated at the border. I did nothing wrong but like the woman in the previous letter, I am not willing to subject myself to this kind of treatment.
I too am trying to appeal this matter as I do not deserve to have it on my record but I am not willing to step on the U.S. side of the border because I really do not trust that I will be treated fairly or with even the slightest amount of respect.
I held it together while being interrogated, much to his dismay, but totally lost it leaving the parking area. When I reached the Canadian border I was sobbing and was treated with complete compassion by the Canadian customs agent who told me that my story is becoming very common.
This needless bullying has left me emotionally upset, even the next day and we now must consider leaving an area that we have always loved.
Sharon Simpson
White Rock, B.C.

The Editor:
Following is a letter that I have sent to U.S. congressman Rick Larsen, state senator Brandland and state representative Doug Ericksen. I would like to see the letter published as I feel that these problems at our border need to be brought to the attention of the people whom we elect to represent us. The way people are being treated at the border needs to be brought forward each and every time someone is treated this way. It must be stopped as it is unacceptable.
I have heard back from Rick Larsen’s office and was told that this letter has been forwarded to the port director at the Peace Arch.
Dear Congressman Larsen:
I have spoken via telephone with Doug Ericksen and he asked me to write this letter to you as he felt that it was necessary that you should hear this story.
The reason that I spoke with Doug Ericksen is due to the frustration that I have felt with the Peace Arch border officers for the past few months and the way my daughter has been treated. My daughter Shannon is 28, and was born in Canada and works full time as a manager of a women’s store in Coquitlam, B.C and has lived in B.C. all of her life.
Shannon is engaged to marry an American who is in the Navy and is stationed in Everett. The first problem came one evening when Shannon went to cross into the United States using the NEXUS lane to go see her fiancé. Shannon does not cross the border very often, as normally her fiancé would come up to Canada and stay with her when he is not on duty.
The officer at the booth sent her into the building to speak with immigration. The immigration officer that she spoke with accused her of living and working in the U.S. She explained to them that there was no truth to this, as she had a full time job in Canada and a roommate whom she shared a suite with. They would not believe her and she was treated very rudely, she ended up crying.
A woman immigration officer became concerned and asked why she was so upset. Shannon’s response was, “I am telling the truth and no one believes me.” It was explained to her that she needed to produce a lease with the landlord and also a letter from her employer and old pay check stubs (as if we all carry this around with us in our cars). The silly thing was Shannon was asked why she was not carrying this paperwork with her at all times.
The lease between her and the landlord was not a problem to get, but she had to wait three weeks before she was able to get her letter from her employer, as the head office is in Montreal, Canada and of course these things take time. Shannon was not able to cross into the U.S. until this paperwork was gathered up and shown to immigration.
Shannon took the necessary paperwork back to the border and when she drove up to the booth, Shannon explained to the officer that she needed to go inside to show this paperwork for being refused entry. The fellow on the booth said “There is nothing on this computer to indicate that I should not be allowing you into the states.” She explained that she felt that she better go inside and talk with them, as she was engaged to an American and would be needing her fiancé visa approved and did not want anything to mess that up for her.
Shannon explained what had happened and it appeared that no one could find anything on Shannon being denied entry into the U.S. They finally did locate her file and there was nothing in it to indicate that she had been denied entry. They copied her paperwork and she left, figuring that this had now been cleared up.
Wrong - a couple of weeks went by and she went to cross again into the U.S. and was sent inside and spent approximately 15-20 minutes waiting her turn and went through the same problem again. She had made copies of the paperwork for herself and she showed them and they let her through. The problem has been that for the next two months every time she would try to cross into the states, the flag would go up on the computer and she would get sent inside. Shannon asked the immigration department how long this would go on for, since she had proven that she lived and worked in Canada and not down here. The guy rudely answered “Oh, probably forever or until you get married and get the fiancé visa approved.” Never did anyone offer to help straighten this out, they just kept her there for approximately 20 minutes every time and then let her through.
I did not see my daughter for two months, where she would normally come down to Blaine for dinner one night a week to visit with her stepdad and me. I am an American citizen as of 2002, and live in Blaine and work full time in Bellingham and I do not feel very proud of our country that our border personnel are treating anyone like this, but especially someone in my own family.
The very last time this happened they made her step out of her car and with their guns drawn on her, two officers walked her into the building. Well, this time she lost her temper and was very upset and told them that this was ridiculous and how dare they treat her like she was a criminal. I am sure you can imagine how my daughter must have felt being taken inside with weapons drawn on her.
Luckily for Shannon the woman who was working the night that she was first refused entry was working this night and recognized Shannon. The officer spoke with Shannon and asked her what was going on. Shannon explained the whole thing to this woman whose name is either officer Burdett or Burnett and she said to Shannon that this is absolutely ridiculous and went to her supervisor to discuss what had been happening every time she tried to cross.
The supervisor told the immigration officer to straighten it out on the computer. This woman kept apologizing to my daughter and saying I am so sorry, I am so sorry, this should have never happened after you showed the necessary paperwork proving you live and work in Canada. Thanks to this woman, my daughter can once again cross into the U.S. to visit her mom or when she wants to spend a weekend in Everett with her fiancé if she chooses too.
My point to you, congressman Larsen, is that if this woman had not taken the time to care about why Shannon was back in the office again this would have just continued on until she did get married in the next year or so. The other officers could have cared less that this was happening, nor did they want to take the time to sort this out. Shannon was treated with rudeness and the attitude that who cares about the fact that you have to come into the office every time you want to cross into this country, that’s not our problem.
This young woman has expressed a desire to become an American citizen someday like her mother has and this certainly does not make me or my husband very proud of the officers at the border. I am concerned about how many more people have to go through this when they are innocent of anything except to come and visit the people they love.
I hope that you will take the necessary action to share this letter with the immigration department at the Peace Arch border and truck crossing and that in the future innocent people will not be treated like my daughter has been treated.
I think the officers should be concentrating their efforts on more important things, like security, drugs and smugglers, not a young women who has not done anything.
Linda Fox
Blaine

The Editor, Blaine, the mayor, and city employees:
Since everyone seems to be on the topic of making Blaine a more desirable place to work, live, and play, then I would like to introduce an idea and I would encourage feedback.
Just northeast of the Cost Cutter, there is an incredible hill which is now part of Blaine. (North on Allen, east on E Street.) This hill is covered in gigantic cedar trees, and huge sprawls of berries. This hill is unique in that it is situated in a valley precisely in a way that provides a 360 degree view of everything worth seeing - the Cascades, Mt. Baker, and north into what will be the areas containing the 2010 Olympics and the majestic mountains of British Columbia. At night time, city lights from many neighborhoods of metro Vancouver are visible, and amazing sunsets can of course be seen out over Drayton Harbor and the bay.
My idea is that we build a public look out tower on this hill. I have been calling it Cedar Hill, just because I own a duplex on the hill and I am constantly impressed by the large cedar trees. There are still many lots available at very cheap prices right at the crest of the hill, and a small park could be made around the public viewing tower.
This would bring a certain level of excitement to the children and could quite possibly overcome the depressing view of the vacant units in the shopping center since it would give people a road trip destination within several hours in every direction. Not to mention, it would create fascinating attractions on each end of Blaine.
I can see it serving as a major stop in Blaine for those traveling to the 2010 Olympics. If the viewing tower gets mentioned from a map in a car full of kids, surely they’ll beg their parents to stop and perhaps the parents will want to soak in the view just as much as the kids.
It’s an absolutely incredible view from the top of the trees - if there was a tower above the treetops, it would be one of the most impressive 360 degree view on the West Coast of North America other than a mountain top. In my mind, I see it as something that would really put Blaine on the map. Where else would there be such an amazing view of the canyon, mountains, valleys, waters, islands, two countries, and so much more? And it’s just off I-5 and in Blaine of all places! It’s an exciting idea to me and I’d love others’ feedback.
I know several other property owners on the hill and I think that since there are virtually no more drug smugglers coming over the hill since the addition of the camera towers, it’s a perfect way to celebrate by having a small park with such an attraction on the hill. Besides, there are at least five brand new houses in construction on the hill right now. So if we don’t do it now, then pretty soon it’ll all be developed and it’ll be too late for a park or a look out tower or public viewing tower.
Not to mention, it’d probably scare off and deter smugglers even more than the camera towers! Imagine how fascinating the “information boards” would be at the top of the tower. I’ll be anxious to read anyone’s feedback, especially from officials with the city of Blaine.
Jason Dixon
Blaine

The Editor:
As an independent voter, I was not pleased with Rick Larsen when he served on the Snohomish County Council, but as a U.S. congressman he has won me over. He’s running for re-election and he deserves to win big.
Rick has been a staunch supporter of our troops, many of whom have been put in harm’s way in both Afghanistan and Iraq. But Rick has been more than just a vocal supporter of those troops; he voted against the Iraq war, recognizing early on that it was an unnecessary war that diverted attention from our real goal of finding Osama bin Laden and decapitating Al Quaida.
If our president and others in congress had followed Rick’s example, over 900 Americans who are now dead would be alive, more than 5,000 more would have all their limbs, more than $150 billion would still be in the U.S. Treasury, many of our allies would still be strong allies, and we would still have the respect of nations worldwide.
Here at home, Rick has proposed the “Wild Sky Wilderness,” more than 100,000 acres of extraordinary mountain/forest/river scenery within a short drive of more than 2,500,000 residents of the Puget Sound. This is extraordinary country that should be preserved in its natural state.
On dozens of other issues too lengthy to detail Rick has worked tirelessly for the people of this district and the people of this nation. He deserves your vote this November.
Bruce Barnbaum
Granite Falls, WA

The Editor:
The owners and staff of the newly opened Seaside Bakery Cafe would like to send out a huge thank you to our wonderful community and visitors as well, for the fabulous welcoming we received for our opening.
Our hopes and dreams of introducing our new business into the neighborhood have been met with an incredible amount of support and appreciation from all. We hear, “thank you for being here!” on a regular basis and want to express how much that means to us.
The journey into the small business world has been filled with a touch of excitement, a sprinkle of anticipation, a dash of learning, many cups full of hard work and just a dab of some minor delays (for which we greatly appreciated everyone’s patience and understanding). We hope that we have created a warm, cozy spot for all to enjoy whether it be to come in for a coffee, breakfast or lunch or to pop in for a yummy loaf of fresh baked bread to go.
We intend to be very active in community involvement and look forward to providing our services to the many special events that take place throughout the years. We are very proud to have become a part of Blaine’s growing business community and plan to be treating everyone with our tasty delights for many years to come! Thank you all!
Silva Gore & Mary Freeman & Seaside Bakery staff
Blaine

The Editor:
While this may not be big ‘news,’ I wanted to mention it to you anyway.
While lunching at Bob’s Burger & Brew in Ferndale just across from Haggens, I noticed something missing from the front of the restaurant. Someone had apparently sawed off the carved wooden eagle from the rest of the carving. We were told that it happened last week sometime. It has been there for years and is a carving of an eagle catching a fish and a bear looking on. It was quite beautiful and surely cost the owner plenty.
With the area all lit up with lights from the parking lots, it is sad that someone had the nerve to do this and no one saw them. I hope someone notices this carving on the person’s property and reports it. I was thinking if more knew it was missing, they might keep a look out for it. Maybe a picture would help.
Jeanette Hansson
Blaine

Letters Policy
The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank-you letters should be limited to 10 names. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please send your letter to:
225 Marine Drive, Blaine, WA 98230 or fax 360/332-2777.
E-mail:editor@thenorthernlight.com

Letters Policy

The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank you letters are limited to five individuals or groups. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please email letters to letters@thenorthernlight.com