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I'd like to share my recent experience with our neighbors to the north. This weekend, I traveled to Detroit as part of my fellowship with the YP4 and FLLA program. When I arrived in my hotel room in the GM Center, I realized that Windsor was merely across a river. I knew I needed to take advantage of this during my free time Saturday night and four other fellows decided that they would join me in my international experience.

I had been to Canada once before, but had needed a birth certificate and ID. This time, I was told, I needed only my driver's license. So, around 11pm on Saturday, five FLLA fellows got into a cab and headed for the border. Of course, we all had IDs, because we had just flown to Detroit the day before. All of us except for me, because (as I found after I had left the U.S. and entered Canadian customs) I had left my only identification in my carry-on luggage - not the purse I was carrying.

After about 20 minutes of inspections and ID checks (of my friends), I was officially allowed into Canada. At this point, I had two choices: head back to the border in hopes that the U.S. patrol would allow me back in since I'd only been gone a half hour or have some fun in Canada and worry about entering after the night was over. I chose the latter; I knew it would be difficult to get back in and I'd already paid for a cab to get there!

At about 3:00 am, the five of us decided to go back to the homeland. After waiting about a half hour in line with the rest of the underage Americans leaving after the bars had closed, we reached the customs gate. I quickly explained to the officer that I did not have any identification, but that she could search my purse and see my credit card if it would help me to get into the country.

After being explained to that it was the fault of ID-less people like me that we can't keep our borders safe, jokes to my friends that I was a terrorist/illegal alien, and about 5 minutes of background checks - I realized what a good idea it was to stay and have fun, when I was let back into the country. Now, I'm not sure if it was my exhaustion-induced, slight southern accent, my white skin, my companions all clearing the test, or a combination of the three, but I absolutely should not have been let across the border so easily. My bag, from the store at which I had considered buying Cuban cigars as souvenirs, was not even searched.

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful that I was allowed to get back to Detroit that night (not that Canada isn't a wonderful country), but I'm appalled at the ease with which I entered the U.S.A. The officer was correct; I could have been a terrorist or illegal alien. I could have hidden bombs in the trunk of my cab without anyone knowing, as it was not checked (though it was checked while entering Canada). This experience has led me to believe that perhaps our borders are no safer than they were five years ago; as I said, when I went to Canada 6 years ago, I needed not only my ID, but my birth certificate too. I'm not sure what the answer is, but until we have actual secure borders we can't claim we've made our country safer and we're just paying customs officers to talk to border-crossers. This is a bipartisan issue that needs to be talked about; we're not being snobby Americans if we have a secure border, everyone does it and it's just plain good policy. I mean, seriously, it's easier to enter the United States than it is to enter Canada? O, Canada, what irony.