Freelance multimedia reporter Brooke Binkowski was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers while she was re-entering the United States on Aug. 22, 2018, the third time in two months that she was directed to secondary screening.
Binkowski, a U.S. citizen, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that she was crossing the border in the afternoon, around the same time she normally drives back to San Diego. As with previous stops, both she and her car were searched. When she told them she was a journalist, she was questioned about her reporting.
“They made me get out of my car and made me keep my phone in my pocket,” Binkowski told the Tracker. She said that while neither her phone nor any other electronic device has been searched during any of her experiences in secondary screening, it remains “a huge, huge fear.”
“[It’s] something for which I have my stepdad, a lawyer, on speed dial, but which has not yet happened,” Binkowski said. “But, I have not crossed with my laptop since 2017 out of those same concerns.”
Binkowski told the Tracker that her frustration with wait times when crossing the border—which is a mere 15 minute drive from her home in San Diego—pushed her to apply for Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI in the early 2000s. Each is a system by which travelers that are deemed low-risk through rigorous background checks or in-person interviews are pre-approved in order to be granted expedited clearance.
Despite having these pre-approvals, Binkowski said she was detained for approximately an hour during this screening before she was permitted to enter the U.S.