Terror Profiling, Constitution, and Homus – Part 1

August 6, 2008

Civil Rights

One can chickpea’s, two cloves of peeled garlic, two tablespoons of tahini paste, squeeze lemon juice, three tablespoons olive oil, pinch salt, and I recommend a pinch of chilli powder, place all ingredients in blender, and blitz until smooth, add a little more oil if too dry.  This is the recipe for a good Homus.  I never prepared Homus before, and I probably wont, but I thought it would be nice to learn the recipe so I can pass it on to the Border Patrol Officers who guard me in a small detention room in the U.S. Entry Point coming from Windsor Canada and always ask me while waiting in boredom, about a good place to eat Homus.
They also ask me if I am one of the guys who face the long 5 or 6 hours scrutiny every time I have to cross the border coming back home.  When I answer “yes”, they shake their heads with empathy and ask me to be patient with the nonsense procedure.

The officer who handles my case and asks me my life story, and questions me about a paper in my business file that has five names and phone numbers on it, also doesn’t know what is the problem.  He also shows empathy and offers water bottles and unlimited bathroom access.

Well, the last time I asked the officer why I was there, he answered: “I don’t know, but you know why you are here!”  After I passed through the shock, I started doubting myself.  I mean, I am moody sometimes, but I never thought I can be schytzophrenic.  Well, I hope I am not.

The conversation doesn’t last long, because the guards get rotated continuously, only to have the two new guys ask me about a good place to eat Homus again.

I have been brought by my parents to America in the early 90’s.  I didn’t have much to do with the decision, being a minor at that time, but I knew that Lebanon, the country of my origin, was torn by war to the extent of being unlivable, and the UAE, the country that never gives citizenship to emigrants, where I was born, no longer extended our visa.  We had no choice but to join our bigger family that has migrated to the U.S. in the beginning of the 20th century.

Now, after growing up here, and where I have spent more than half of my life, I became an American who is proud of his citizenship and Constitution.  I also consider myself a very healthy part of the American society, where I have volunteered in numerous social and community organizations.  I joined the honors program in Henry Ford Community College and received the Presidential Scholarship in Wayne State University where I finished my degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering.  Just recently, Border guards began detaining me every time I cross from Windsor into the United States. Without explanation, I have been handcuffed in front of my parents and held apart from my pregnant wife for hours in isolated detention.

I have filed a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security.  Their response was a long letter that basically said nothing.  I have filed again hoping for a response that says something.

When I read the Forth and Fifth Amendments:

  • The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
  • No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

I feel proud for such a text, but ashamed that the opposite of it is being implemented on me.  I am being subjected to unreasonable searches.  I am being held without a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury.  I am being deprived for long hours of liberty without due process of law.  My privacy is being violated without due process of law or compensation.

I understand that the country is under the pressure of protecting national security from the threat of terrorism.  Nevertheless, isn’t the destruction of our values, life style, and constitutional principles worse than the destruction of buildings and planes.  Aren’t the terrorists more successful if they break our values and convert us into a country which practices third world methods of security.

Also, does creating an unreasonable watch list of 400,000 to 1 Million individuals living in America basically destroys part of the life of about 1% of the adult population?  Does it solve the problem?  How many should pay the price with their life style, business, and families to make a plan, whose success is ambiguous in catching a “terrorist”, to make this worth while?  If all these methods were in place prior to September 11 of 2001, would the heinous attacks been prevented?!

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About W

Wissam, Wesley, or simply W, is an educator, writer, entrepreneur, engineer, activist, ex-Imam, humanist, liberal thinker with interest and mediocre attempt at many takes of life. A modern confused Renaissance man, who uses doubt as a path for emancipation and science as a road towards enlightenment.

View all posts by W

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