Our closest border with Canuckistan is about an hour north of us (the Derby Line/Stanstead I-91 crossing), and the second-closest one is two hours away in Vermont.
Imagine my mild surprise when, on the way back from town with the kids, I ended up in a U.S. Border patrol checkpoint right on I-89 outside Lebanon, NH, close to a hundred road miles from the international border. They had set up shop across the southbound lanes of the Interstate, and every single vehicle had to stop for inspection.
As far as stops go, it wasn’t much of an annoyance. The uniformed BP agent gave the van the once-over, presumably to check the plates out, and make sure the Grand Caravan wasn’t sitting low in the water from having a ton and a half of explosives in the back, or twenty-four stowaways from Saskatchewan. Then he asked how I was doing today (thereby eliciting a verbal response by which to gauge accent and/or nervousness level), and peeked past me into the back, where the kids were sitting. Then he asked if everyone in the car was a U.S. citizen. I answered in the affirmative, we wished each other a nice day, and I was on my way.
The libertarian knee-jerk reaction would be “ZOMG checkpointz!!!”, and utter revulsion at once again being asked to justify oneself in front of the agents of the state. The conservative/Daddy State response would be to be glad that the stalwart defenders of Old Glory and apple pie are making sure the Islamists won’t invade us while being poorly disguised with flap-eared hats and hockey jerseys. The Liberal response would be to be annoyed at having one’s mellow harshed by The Man. (I’m guessing here, of course. I’m sure there are Liberals who are pro-enforcement on the immigration issue, and conservatives who get the heebie-jeebies at being asked their citizenship status by a Fed.)
I wasn’t too terribly put out, I suppose. I wasn’t asked to present papers, and I thought that the quick on-the-spot interview was as effective as time constraints and practicality allowed. They were fishing for stuff that looked off, and we didn’t. Yes, I do realize that there are people who take advantage of the fact that both our land borders with our neighbors are way too long to effectively seal. (The Mexican and Canadian borders put together are close to eight thousand miles, and that doesn’t even take into account our coastlines.) I also recognize that border protection is actually a legit and proper function of Teh Fedz.
Still, it’s a little weird to get funneled into a BP checkpoint while going about one’s business a hundred road miles away from the border. You’d figure that running checks in west-central NH takes manpower that could be better used at the actual border itself…