border security

Reactions of being an American in the United Kingdom

I spent the past summer in West Yorkshire to be with my fiancee. I meant to do this when I got back from the UK in August, but university got in the way. Finally finished it! (You’re welcome, @urgibbo. Thank you for the best summer I’ve ever had <3 )

  • Border security is terrifying.
    • But also kinda funny. When I was detained (they thought it was dangerous that I was meeting someone off the internet), I cried - a lot. They put me in a quiet room since I’m on the autism spectrum, and they were really nice to me. 
    • When I was crying, one said -
       “Oh, sweetie, it’ll be okay. No one’s going to hurt you here. We’ll get you medical care if you need it, and no one has any guns- this is a civilized country, I promise.” 
    • I swear, that’s the only time I laughed during the entire ordeal

  • Public transport is far more reliable and organized - also interconnected throughout the country.
    • There are BUS STATIONS, and frickin trains. I had never been on a train in my life until I was leaving Manchester to Leeds

  • The sun doesn’t set until well past 9pm in the summer.
    • maybe not quite that late but it was weird, guys. It was so weird. 

  • There are shutters on the shops due to theft.
    • I guess it’s a good idea, but it makes it kinda creepy 

  • EVERYTHING is closed by 4pm.
    • like… I hope you have supper (or tea, as the fiancee calls it) by 3:30, because you’re not getting fish and chips during the weekday otherwise.

  • Dogs are everywhere, even on the buses.
    • I saw them on buses, trains, every street corner. 
    • It was beautiful.

  • I was allowed to drink
    • Drinking laws there are much less strict compared to America
    • Fun fact: I got drunk off of two bottles of Smirnoff Ice, and apparently turned into Spock. Typical. 

  • People are generally very polite, even compared to the south
    • Mostly, anyway. There’s a bit less outright racism towards people of color and discrimination (in the area I was in, anyway), but it’s still there. 
  • Their elections are just as frustrating as ours
    • I was there for the campaigning and the EU referendum. I was so done with hearing both sides that I legit left the room
      • The same reaction I have when I’m stuck listening to any of our campaigns too.
  • Their outpouring of support in tragedy is heartfelt
    • When I was over there, my fiancee’s MP Jo Cox was murdered about two miles from town.
    • There were cards and flowers for her at every Labour office in the constituency, and a beautiful vigil
    • They even had signs up saying to “Love like Jo,” and it made my heart both incredibly sad but also happy to see people come together like that.

  • Emergency vehicles are yellow
    • This actually kinda makes sense.

  • Everything is smaller
    •  From the shops to the sidewalks and even the streets? A lot of people park their cars on the street, so I guess maybe it’s a crowding issue. I don’t know. I’m used to everyone having driveways/garages here, so it’s weird.

  • A crosswalk is called a zebra crossing
    • there’s also a pelican crossing and others named after animals: because why the hell not?

  • Fire hydrants are underground and marked with a tiny weird looking gravestones.
    • Okaaaaay, Yorkshire Water. 

  • They eat fish and chips with wooden dual-spiked sticks (and call them forks)
    •  no seriously, just use the blue plastic ones instead. 
    • It’ll save you the embarrassment when everyone realizes you have no idea what you’re doing.

  • Related: fish and chips is the main type of fast food
    • small towns might not have a McDonald’s, but there’s definitely a fish and chip shop somewhere. 
    • Also: cafes

  • Further related: there is always a Wetherspoon’s (pub) and a Gregg’s (pastry shop) - without fail. 
    • Except for Heckmondwike. 
    • Best thing about Wetherspoons is that there’s no music.
    • Unless you count windows - but WHY
    • I also learned that I can’t tolerate heat as well as I thought. Oops.

  • Road signs are white, not green. Signs are posted on the walls.

  • WH Smiths has all the comics and stationery.

  • You have to be 18 to buy scissors, razor blades, or knives
    • Makes sense, but I’m really amused about this one.

  • The castles are BEAUTIFUL

  • Scarborough is wonderful, even though I saw no fair.
    • also the sea is so cold

  • there’s a restaurant in the South Bay that has the best lasagna ever.
    • 10/10, would eat again
    • I think it’s called The Princess Cafe?  It was so nice

  • The food in general served way too frickin HOT
    • Pretty sure my tongue was scalded at least once a day.

  • Buildings tend to be built close together, and not many people have a driveway.
    • Immediate response to the fiancee: “Isn’t that a fire hazard?”

  • A lot of people don’t even drive.
    • It’s actually pretty awesome.I can’t drive and it made me feel a lot less like a failure compared to American culture.

  • Traffic lights aren’t overhead; they’re on the corner.
    • This one is so small, but it confused me so much when I was in town.

  • Pizza places don’t sell breadsticks, apparently.

  • KFC only has fries, not mashed potatoes.

  • Cornbread and cornmeal doesn’t appear to exist. 
    • I checked about four shops. For a girl who has hardly ever left the south, it was the worst culture shock.

  • Most places have two faucets (or taps), one for hot and the other for cold.
    • It was that way in his house and a lot of hotels. Can’t say it’s that way everywhere, though. It took a LOT of getting used to and a few burnt fingers.

  • There’s a walkway through the parking lot so that you don’t get hit 
    • aka the “car park,” which still makes me giggle

  • You have to actually pay for bags at the shop - 5p charge
    • You can get a 10p bag for life in some shops, and you can replace it indefinitely.

  • Their stores have different names. 
    • Morrison’s is like our Kroger/Publix, Tesco’s is like Food Lion, and Asda is actually Wal-Mart. And Aldi’s is still the same.

  • It’s apparently a trolley, not a buggy or cart.

  • There’s a channel where someone is actually signing conversations on the television. 
    • It’s like subtitles, but with sign language. 
    • The BEST thing

  • It’s super easy to get around with taxis and other forms of transportation.
    • Amazing for people with disabilities or those who don’t drive.

  • But many of the buildings would never fulfill the ADA act, so accessibility has a long way to go. One shop had a spiral staircase with no elevator - I sat with his mother because I gave up on it.
    • ….but America has serious issues with this too, so there’s that. I think maybe it has to do with the fact that the UK is older? 

  • School starts in September and ends in late July

  • All the schools require uniforms. ALL of them
    • Okay, probably not all. But it looks like it.

  • There’s isolation switches for every electrical socket.
    • this is actually REALLY really smart, and I want these here
    • also their electrical outlets look weird

  • Coke bottles are smaller. 
    • I actually panicked when I got back because my soda bottle looked absolutely giant
    • Speaking of cola, theirs has no high fructose corn syrup - which actually tasted quite nice

  • Subway chicken is more spicy
    • I was so upset, you have no idea

  • There’s no such thing as Ranch dressing
    • at least, not that I could find

  • Kinder eggs are legal. KINDER EGGS ARE LEGAL.
    • to be honest, I actually didn’t care for them that much

  • Candy = sweets
    • Jelly Babies are actually quite nice, but I think I like Galaxy bars and Chew-its more. 

  • Roundabouts everywhere
    • I really love roundabouts. You have no idea

  • Blackcurrant flavored purple Skittles
    • just… why? Why would you ruin something so perfect?

  • Churches have organs, not just pianos. 

  • Weddings have these weird hats called fascinators, although they just look like hair clips to me. 

  • Apparently people like clotheslines more than dryers.
    • So much more effort, but I guess with the lack of air conditioning, it makes sense. 

I’m going back in December, so I’ll see what else I can add to the list. 

What if we re-imagined the US-Mexico border wall as architecture? Read more about the project in this week’s Design and Violence blog post. 

[Ronald Rael (American, b. 1971), Virginia San Fratello (American, b. 1971). Borderwall as Architecture: Teeter-totter alternative border solution. 2014. Dimensions and materials variable. Image courtesy of Rael San Fratello] 

The image…is of Carlos La Madrid, 19…shot in the back three times…and killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent March 21, 2011 on the U.S. side of the border wall in Douglas, Ariz. His mother, Guadalupe Guerrero, who lives in Tucson, has become an outspoken figure on border violence in her attempt to seek answers and justice…


An investigative report that matters: Apparently 17 million pounds of marijuana has been confiscated by the U.S. Border Patrol between January 2005 and October 2011, the Center for Investigative Reporting reports. The lede on the ABC News story on the matter? “If you’ve always wanted to roll a spliff the size of the Washington Monument, the Border Patrol may be able to help.” I, for one, salute the Washington Marijuanament.

(Spotted this via firthofforth but had to post separately because OH MY GOD THE GRAPHIC)

Border violence is a prohibition problem. Just as we did for Al Capone and his murderous colleagues 90 years ago, our drug laws have created the battlefield on which tens of thousands are dying. By doggedly hanging onto marijuana laws that make criminals out of our children while our leaders proudly consume wine at state dinners, we have created an illegal marketplace with such mind-boggling profits that no enforcement measures will ever overcome the motivation, resources and determination of the cartels.

The Fence

The border the United States shares with Mexico is nearly 2,000 miles long and contains numerous natural and man-made barriers. The construction of the fence, the most significant man-made barrier in North America, started in 2006, has cost more than 3 billion dollars and spans around 700 miles (1,126 km).

This photo is part of a series titled “The Fence,” by Reportage photographer Charles Ommanney. You can view an exhibition of this work at the Leica Store in Miami through July, with an opening reception next Friday, May 29th at 7:30pm. Visit the Leica Store website for more info.

No human being held by United States authorities should ever be exposed to hunger, extreme temperatures, physical or verbal abuse, or denial of medical care.

Sen. Barbara Boxer said in a press release announcing a new bill to ensure humane detention conditions at Customs and Border Protection facilities. 

In November, we reported that immigrants apprehended near the border sometimes are held in what they, as well as some Border Patrol agents, call las hieleras, or “the freezers.” 

Now, Sen. Boxer is proposing a new bill that would implement standards for Customs and Border Protection facilities, such as adequate climate control, potable water, access to toilets, access to medical care and special treatment for pregnant women.

More details on the proposed legislation here.
Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers
The candidates tell drastically different stories about immigration. They're both skipping half the truth. By GEORGE J. BORJAS

I’ve been studying immigration for 30 years, but 2016 was the first time my research was cited in a convention speech. When he accepted his party’s nomination in July, Donald Trump used one of my economic papers to back up his plan to crack down on immigrants and build a physical wall: “Decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens, especially for African-American and Latino workers,” he told the cheering crowd. But he was telling only half the story.

Hillary Clinton, for her part, seemed to be telling only the other half. At her convention a week later, Clinton claimed that immigrants, both legal and illegal, improve the economy for everyone. She told the crowd: “I believe that when we have millions of hardworking immigrants contributing to our economy, it would be self-defeating and inhumane to try to kick them out. Comprehensive immigration reform will grow our economy.”

Here’s the problem with the current immigration debate: Neither side is revealing the whole picture. Trump might cite my work, but he overlooks my findings that the influx of immigrants can potentially be a net good for the nation, increasing the total wealth of the population. Clinton ignores the hard truth that not everyone benefits when immigrants arrive. For many Americans, the influx of immigrants hurts their prospects significantly.

Read more here
'Ludicrous' to ban Canadians from U.S. for smoking pot, says public safety minister
'We obviously need to intensify discussions with border authorities in the United States,' says minister

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says Canadians slapped with a lifetime ban on entering the United States for telling a border guard they have recreationally smoked pot is a “ridiculous situation” that needs to be addressed.

“We obviously need to intensify our discussions with our border authorities in the United States, including the Department of Homeland Security,” Goodale told CBC’s Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton.

“This does seem to be a ludicrous situation, because, as you say, not only is the state of Washington, but three or four other jurisdictions in the United States have legalized marijuana,” he said.

Goodale was responding to the case of Matthew Harvey, who has been excluded from the U.S. for answering truthfully when the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service asked if he had ever smoked pot recreationally.

“They said that I was inadmissible because I admitted to smoking marijuana after the age of 18 and before I’d received my medical marijuana licence,” he said.

For the rest of his life, Harvey and other Canadians in his position must now apply for advance permission to enter the U.S. as a non-immigrant. The travel waiver, which costs $585 US ($752 Cdn), is granted on a discretionary basis, which means it may be good for a year, or two, or five, depending on the discretion of the approval officer.

When the waiver expires, Harvey will have to apply again and pay the fee, again, which is going up to $930 US ($1,195 Cdn) later this year.

Continue Reading.

In El Paso, residents aren’t waiting for Congress to fix immigration

EL PASO, Texas — As 2013 drew to a close, volunteers for the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) fanned out into El Paso and the surrounding communities to collect stories of abuse and mistreatment by law enforcement officials. The annual effort seeks to establish accountability for officers working along the El Paso sector of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Amid the steady stream of complaints that rolled in, Fernando Garcia, the organization’s director, noticed a conspicuous absence of grievances against Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department. “I said, ‘This cannot be,”’ recalled Garcia. He extended the campaign for two weeks and told volunteers to focus on finding any potential complaints against Border Patrol, an arm of CBP. But once again, volunteers found no verifiable incidents of abuse.

Read more

(Photo: Tom A. Peter)

Watch on


Conan helps to patrol the US-Canada border in style.

From Late Night with Conan O'Brien.


Slate’s photo blog, Behold, profiles Getty Images photographer John Moore and his work on immigration and border-security issues, which he has focused on since 2010.

Moore said he approached the project with the intent of looking at the issues “in as many ways as possible.” He said he explained the point of his project to immigrant communities and those in migrant shelters around the United States as wanting to put a human face on the issue; many decided to participate. He photographed a variety of people, including older men who were recently deported after living in the United Sates for many years, Cubans seeking asylum, and transgender people. He also tried to focus on families who had assimilated into American society.

Read more from the profile and see John’s work on