A journalist returning to the United States from Canada was assaulted by a Border Patrol agent this week after attempting to record his encounter.
The journalist, Rogier van Bakel of Reason.com, was preparing to enter Maine after a short family vacation in Quebec when he was stopped at the Jackman Border Patrol Station.
Traveling with his two daughters, Bakel says an agent began asking questions after viewing their passports.
“They do have their mother’s last name, and they do look somewhat Asian,” Bakel wrote. “I’m white. Maybe he’s curious.”
After informing the agent of his relation to the girls, Bakel says he was asked if he had “permission” to travel with his own daughters.
“Do you have a letter with her permission for you to travel with them?” the agent asked.
Stunned by the question, Bakel asked if he was required to carry such an item, prompting the agent to call for a vehicle search.
“He clearly doesn’t appreciate even that tiny bit of pushback,” Bakel noted.
After being ordered to follow the agent to a nearby building, Bakel says he grabbed his phone and began recording.
“For my protection, officer, I’m now recording what’s happening,” Bakel said.
According to Bakel, the agent almost immediately responded with violence.
“I step out of the car, and without warning, he physically attacks—that is, he wrestles the phone from my hand, twisting my arm in the process. I’m stunned,” Bakel wrote.
Despite Bakel’s actions being protected by the First Amendment, agents on scene claim the opposite.
Agents even went as far as defending the assault, telling Bakel that his recording could show people the type of question they ask.
“As a journalist, I can tell the world, in writing, what questions you ask,” Bakel responded. “In the U.S., anyone has that right. That’s certainly not against the law. What’s the difference between that and recording the conversation?”
After several moment of silence, agents claim that the issue is a matter of “officer safety and security.”
Adding insult to injury, agents then tell Bakel that he cannot leave until his footage is deleted. Not wanting to stay any longer, Bakel says he opted to comply.
“My daughters and I roll away, in our unsearched car—having ultimately posed no greater threat to the United States than the unthinking importation of three clementines, contraband that the border patrol professionals have bravely confiscated and discarded,” Bakel writes in closing. “I’m sure they’ll rest easy tonight, and so can you.”
Incredibly, as illegal aliens enter the country en mass without issue, Americans receive the opposite treatment.
Earlier this week, a border agent in Alaska pointed his gun at a boy scout’s head after a separate scout began looking through his luggage. Agents proceeded to detain the entire troop for more than four hours, threatening one scout with prison time for taking a photograph.
A journalist taking pictures at the New Mexico border was detained for more than five hours and threatened with a cavity search just last month. According the journalist, federal agents demanded he delete his photographs as well.
Unfortunately, anyone entering the country in a lawful manner now faces more scrutiny than those arriving illegally.
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