Canadian Woman Found With Undeclared Raspberries and Strip Searches and Barred From Country

Loretta Van Beek insists she is not a Canadian raspberry mule. Indeed, she is suing the United States government after she was questioned for hours and strip searched at the border. Van Beek, 46, had failed to declare a few raspberries discovered by our border police, who became suspicious that she was living illegally in the United States. Illegals are known to be partial to raspberries.

Van Beek lives in Stratford, Ontario but owns a vacation house in Savannah, Georgia. She insists that the strip search was unnecessary and highly intrusive if not “deviant.” She was then photographed and sent back to Canada.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has simply said that strip searches are entirely discretionary for the officers if they believe someone is hiding something on their body. One would expect a bit more in terms of a standard or guideline for such an extreme measure, such as an articulated basis and supervisory approval. I also fail to see why, if they found nothing, they insisted that she return to Canada.

The problem for Van Beek is that courts have gradually left the border as an area of almost unchecked executive authority — giving the government wide discretion under the Fourth Amendment. The Court has created a border exception to the Fourth Amendment and has turned back given modest efforts to reign in unchecked authority by border officers. This includes stops and searches that would highly questionable by police just a short distance inside the country. United States v. Montoya de Hernandez, 473 U.S. 531, 538 (1985) (“travelers may be stopped [and searched] at . . . the border without individualized suspicion even if the stop [or search] is based largely on ethnicity[.]”) The Court has even refused to apply minimal standards requiring routine procedures. See United States v. Flores-Montano, 541 U.S. 149, 152 (2004) (“Complex balancing tests to determine what is a “routine” search of a vehicle, as opposed to a more “intrusive” search of a person, have no place in border searches of [property].” Given these cases, it will be hard to establish a tort in this case despite what appears legitimate grounds for objection. The result is a disturbing area of a unchecked authority where citizens and visitors are left with little recourse in the face of abuse.

Source: CBC

Jonathan Turley

20 thoughts on “Canadian Woman Found With Undeclared Raspberries and Strip Searches and Barred From Country”

  1. Pete-

    Yah! What the hell’s wrong with those non-militaristic, happy, healthy people going around minding their own business. The bastards! They can’t get away with that crap. Let’s nuke ’em back to the stone age! Bastards!

  2. How many people who are denied entry have legal title to a building in the United States? The lady was not turned away just to visit Disneyland. She owns a house in the U.S. and presumably pays property taxes on it.
    Of course the morons at the border do not care. Martinet wannabes especially on that Detroit bridge.

    Solution is the Canadian political system. Canada should retaliate likewise.

  3. When I went through customs last fall, I waited with a lot of truck drivers. One was Polish and said he had driven trucks all over Europe. He said that U.S. customs was a big hassle and long delay.

    One thing positive I have to say about Homeland Security is that it publishes the minutes of the meetings of its Data Integrity Board. DOJ has a Data Integrity Board (a requirement of 5 USC section 552a u ) hut it doesn’t have meetings. Since there are no meetings then there are no records of the meetings — no written agenda, no minutes. I have a letter from its secretary Stuart Frisch about that.

    DOJ hired a former google exec to be a Privacy officer. She issued a one time report. Then she went to work for Homeland Security.

  4. i for one am tired of these canadians snowmobiling over the boarder and bringing their cheap raspberries. we need to build a fence, form a milita to patrol from minnasota to washington state, during the winter.

  5. HenMan,

    Hey, I wish I had thought of “Jeffery Dahmer license plates”, so I guess that makes us even. 😉

  6. raff,

    You give new meaning to the term “Red Menace”.

    Maybe the nitwits at the border need this training . . .


    . . . or maybe not!

  7. I have a youngish mentally retarded relative, who through a stroke, isn’t altogether there. He is an adult and he does live a somewhat normal life. But he does often appear quirky.

    His parents visit from Canada each year. And during the those visits this adult relative comes back and forth over the border to be with us all. The US border guards are abusive to him. We are afraid they will beat him or kill him.

    The only way to keep the young man from crossing the border is for his parents to never come here and visit family or for the young man to be institutionalized. He is harmless too. He carries medical papers and everything.

  8. You are correct blouise. I have had our car searched for excess fish that was caught in Canada, but they never complained about any illegal fruit. It just goes to show you that women need to keep their rasberries at home and do not drive while under the influence of red fruit.

  9. Who would think to declare a container or two of raspberries crossing the Canadian border? I could see if you had a palette of them or something, but I wouldn’t think to do so if I just bought a quart or two.

  10. Sailing on the western end of Lake Erie includes destinations in Canada. For the most part, border crossing is not much of a hassle. CBP and their Canadian coutnrparts have systems, video reporting stations, nexus and I-68 that simplify matters. CBP does come to our marina on occasion and checks other landing sites. Conversations have always been friendly. Checking in to Canada (a phone call) is almost always no hassle. However, stories about Canadian Customs along the Detroit River often mention hassles. The Ambassador Bridge in Detroit sees very heavy traffic and I have met some unhappy officers. Like any law enforcement, particular areas, particular leadership, poor hiring practices, contribute to problems. Stories in the media suggesat that the post-911 frenzy of developing homeland security did not include any realistic planning, as always profit and power overwhelmed common sense. This does not excuse the problems continuing to exist. As usual JT has it right.

  11. Are you saying that Homeland Security strip searched her? If so look on their website.

    I crossed the border last fall and couldn’t believe what a hassle it was to bring a device marked “Eastman Kodak” into this country. Because we had the Eastman Kodak devise with us, it took 8 hours to cross the border and we had to pay FEDEX $500 to certify us.

    The officers also said that if you take a canoe out on water that borders Canada you have to give Homeland security advance notice both of your leaving in the canoe and your return in the canoe.

  12. The borders…..trying to get back into the US is worse than trying to leave….

  13. First, they came for the raspberries.


    A border exception to the 4th Amendment is an expansive abuse waiting to happen. It is attached to a line on a map. And if the Fascist Government of the United States has proven anything in recent years, it’s that they have no problem moving arbitrarily moving lines if it helps them create a police state.

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