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Mon Aug 31, 2020, 08:27 AM

I Was a U.S. Diplomat. Customs and Border Protection Only Cared That I Was Black.

(Snip)

If you’re working at the State Department, like I was, and traffic isn’t bad, your trip across the border usually just takes a few minutes. The border between Juarez and El Paso has two lanes set aside for “trusted travelers,” people who travel frequently into and out of the country and who’ve been vetted in advance by the U.S. government. This group, which includes business travelers and diplomats, carry a pass known as a SENTRI card, issued by CBP, which is supposed to allow “expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.” You’re directed to special lanes and hold your card up to a camera a few feet in front of a booth manned by CBP officers. Most of the time the officers wave through travelers using SENTRI cards, so the whole process takes just a few seconds. But if the officers have questions about the identity of the travelers, or any other suspicion, they can flag them off to the side for additional questioning and searches, including putting the car through an X-ray machine.

This is called “secondary inspection,” and sometimes being picked out for secondary inspection is just arbitrary, like a random check by the Transportation Security Agency at an airport. It's rare for U.S. consular officers to be regularly pulled over; in addition to having a SENTRI card, we carry diplomatic passports. Some of my fellow diplomats have told me they had not once been pulled into secondary inspection after living in Juarez for years. One told me he was always greeted with, “Welcome home to America, sir.”

But in the time I'd lived in Juarez — less than one month — I'd already been flagged for secondary inspection four times. This would be the fifth.

On one level, there was no obvious reason they were stopping me. I had passed extensive background and security checks to get my job and to qualify for a SENTRI card. CBP’s own website says that to get a SENTRI card, “all applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview.”

https://www.politico.com/amp/news/magazine/2020/08/30/black-us-diplomat-customs-border-protection-cbp-detained-harassed-325676

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