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Schengen and passport checks

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  • Dallen Timothy
    Hello Folks A few observations from my last border trips: A) When I was in Spain and France a couple of weeks ago, we noticed that the Spanish state police
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 15, 2012
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      Hello Folks

       

      A few observations from my last border trips:

      A)     When I was in Spain and France a couple of weeks ago, we noticed that the Spanish state police were checking passports of train passengers as they got off at Portbou coming from Cerbere, France. We interviewed the officers after and asked them why they were doing it. Their responses: 1) to make sure each person has proper papers/visas to enter Spain and 2) to ensure the safety of the people of Spain from external threats. We encountered passport checks two years ago on the Dutch side of the line at Vaals as well, where the border police were spot checking IDs at the border.  At the Spanish border they were checking passports of non-Spanish and non-French citizens. Unfortunately, the border police in the Netherlands left before I could dash over to chat with them.

       

      Can someone more familiar with Schengen regulations, please fill me in on how they can do this? Or rather why they do it? Remember, they were checking passports, not goods/luggage. According to treaty, there shall be a “removal of checks on persons at the internal borders of Schengen”. I have my suspicions, but I’d like to hear from people who are better experts on the details of the treaty.

       

      Why would the Spanish police be checking passports as people are entering Spain? What in the Schengen treaty allows for this? I would assume that the same applies for all other inner-Schegen borders.

       

      I have noticed in several places in the Schengen area, that the apparently abandoned border buildings are in fact still being used on an ad hoc basis. Peeking in the windows, even if they are boarded up and cracked, it’s easy to see newish computers, fans, air conditioners still working, etc., so it’s obvious that these ‘abandoned’ offices are and can still be used at the police’s whims.

       

      B)      At the divided village of Le Perthus, the French police were parked south (in Spain) of the old Spanish customs stations, armed and checking people’s cars coming into France, although they were a good 30-40 meters in Spain.

       

      I doubt there are any binational, bilateral arrangements to allow the French police to station themselves in fully uniform and with guns, on Spanish territory. The French have their own checkpoint just norht of Le Perthus. There are such arrangements with countries such as Switzerland with its neighbors, France and Germany. There are several cases where Swiss customs/passport control is on French or German soil, but this is done by mutual arrangment. It seems quite obvious that the French police in Le Perthus were just doing it on an ad hoc basis. They certainly didn’t want anyone in our group photographing them standing in Spain!! Not unusual at borders, but for an ‘open’ border they were quite upset at some of our students taking pictures of the abandoned border station near where they were standing.

       

      C)      Incidentally, in December when I was last at the US-Mexico border, there was something fairly unusual. The US border officers (from all agencies involved) are very good about respecting the sovereign territory of Mexico. They will not step into Mexico even one inch. As I’ve noted on here before, there are articles in local papers over the years that tell of US border patrol officers accidentally stepping over the line or driving over the line, and they are immediately removed from  their jobs for it. They are quite precise in going up to the line but not crossing, and I’ve observed this several times myself (especially as the gates open and trainloads of Ford cars enter the US from maquiladoras in Nogales and officers’ toes are exactly at the line checking the trains and their contents). At Nogales on the road crossings the line is marked with red reflectors on the pavement. In this particular case, there was a Mexican customs agent with a machine gun standing in the United States by about two meters helping to guide the line of crossers through the rotating gate and into the US customs building. The equally heavily-armed US BP officer was on the other side of he turnstall continuing to guide the crossers through. I just found it ineresting that the machine gun-laden Mexican officer was allowed to be on US soil in that capacity. Some of you might not find it odd, but I did.

       

      Again, any additional insight on the Schengen issues with borders and passports would be much appreciated.

      Thanks

      Dallen

       

       

       

    • Len Nadybal
      Dallen, In almost all the European countries, the law is simply that you must be in possession of valid ID at all times I was stopped a number of times in
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 16, 2012
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        Dallen,

        In almost all the European countries, the law is simply that you must be
        in possession of valid ID at all times I was stopped a number of times
        in Germany during my 25 years in Europe - and caught once without a
        drivers license as I sat on a bench on theside of a road outside of
        Karlsruhe, not far from the French border. Because my ID was US
        government issued (not a passport - a government employee's ID), the
        policeman let me off, and said "we'll check - if you don't have a
        driver's license, you'll hear from us". It had nothing in particular to
        do with my crossing a border - only for ID law enforcement which has the
        underlying purpose of preventing illegals from remaining undocumented.
        There are other laws in most countries saying you must notify the local
        police when you move from one apartment or house to another. If your ID
        has the wrong address, it's technically invalid, and one will have a
        problem to solve. Hotels have to turn in registration cards for
        foreigners each night to local police (and those registration documents
        in some place constitute the notice about current "residence" that some
        laws in some places require).

        This stuff existed long before Schengen - I think asking "how do they
        get away with this in light of Schengen?" invalidly relates these
        continuing domestic activities to Schengen.

        Len

        Dallen Timothy wrote:
        >
        >
        > Hello Folks
        >
        > A few observations from my last border trips:
        >
        > A) When I was in Spain and France a couple of weeks ago, we noticed
        > that the Spanish state police were checking passports of train
        > passengers as they got off at Portbou coming from Cerbere, France. We
        > interviewed the officers after and asked them why they were doing it.
        > Their responses: 1) to make sure each person has proper papers/visas
        > to enter Spain and 2) to ensure the safety of the people of Spain from
        > external threats. We encountered passport checks two years ago on the
        > Dutch side of the line at Vaals as well, where the border police were
        > spot checking IDs at th! e border. At the Spanish border they were
        > checking passports of non-Spanish and non-French citizens.
        > Unfortunately, the border police in the Netherlands left before I
        > could dash over to chat with them.
        >
        > Can someone more familiar with Schengen regulations, please fill me in
        > on how they can do this? Or rather why they do it? Remember, they were
        > checking passports, not goods/luggage. According to treaty, there
        > shall be a “removal of checks on persons at the internal borders of
        > Schengen”. I have my suspicions, but I’d like to hear from people who
        > are better experts on the details of the treaty.
        >
        > Why would the Spanish police be checking passports as people are
        > entering Spain? What in the Schengen treaty allows for this? I would
        > assume that the same applies for all other inner-Schegen borders.
        >
        > I have not! iced in several places in the Schengen area, that the
        > apparently abandoned border buildings are in fact still being used on
        > an ad hoc basis. Peeking in the windows, even if they are boarded up
        > and cracked, it’s easy to see newish computers, fans, air conditioners
        > still working, etc., so it’s obvious that these ‘abandoned’ offices
        > are and can still be used at the police’s whims.
        >
        > B) At the divided village of Le Perthus, the French police were parked
        > south (in Spain) of the old Spanish customs stations, armed and
        > checking people’s cars coming into France, although they were a good
        > 30-40 meters in Spain.
        >
        > I! doubt there are any binational, bilateral arrangements to allow the
        > French police to station themselves in fully uniform and with guns, on
        > Spanish territory. The French have their own checkpoint just norht of
        > Le Perthus. There are such arrangements with countries such as
        > Switzerland with its neighbors, France and Germany. There are several
        > cases where Swiss customs/passport control is on French or German
        > soil, but this is done by mutual arrangment. It seems quite obvious
        > that the French police in Le Perthus were just doing it on an ad hoc
        > basis. They certainly didn’t want anyone in our group photographing
        > them standing in Spain!! Not unusual at borders, but for an ‘open’
        > border they were quite upset at some of our students taking pictures
        > of the abandoned border station near where they were standing.
        >
        > C) Incidentally, in December when I was last at the US-Mexico border,
        > there was something fairly unusual. The US border officers (from all
        > agencies involved) are very good about respecting the sovereign
        > territory of Mexico. They will not step into Mexico even one inch. As
        > I’ve noted on here before, there are articles in local papers over the
        > years that tell of US border patrol officers accidentally stepping
        > over the line or driving over the line, and they are immediately
        > removed from their jobs for it. They are quite precise in going up to
        > the line but not crossing, and I’ve observed this several times myself
        > (especially as the gates open and trainloads of Ford cars enter the US
        > from maquiladoras in Nogales and officers’ toes are exactly at the
        > line checking the trains and their contents). At Nogales on the road
        > crossings the line is marked with red reflectors on the pavement. In
        > this particular case! , there was a Mexican customs agent with a
        > machine gun standing in the United States by about two meters helping
        > to guide the line of crossers through the rotating gate and into the
        > US customs building. The equally heavily-armed US BP officer was on
        > the other side of he turnstall continuing to guide the crossers
        > through. I just found it ineresting that the machine gun-laden Mexican
        > officer was allowed to be on US soil in that capacity. Some of you
        > might not find it odd, but I did.
        >
        > Again, any additional insight on the Schengen issues with borders and
        > passports would be much appreciated.
        >
        > Thanks
        >
        > Dallen
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > _______________________________________________________
        > Unlimited Disk, Data Transfer, PHP/MySQL Domain Hosting
        > http://www.doteasy.com
      • Kevin Meynell
        Len, ... I m not sure this is the case in almost all European or even EU countries. In fact, I think relatively few countries technically require you to show
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 16, 2012
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          Len,

          > In almost all the European countries, the law is simply that you must
          > be in possession of valid ID at all times

          I'm not sure this is the case in 'almost all' European or even EU
          countries. In fact, I think relatively few countries technically require
          you to show valid ID on demand, even if they issue ID cards. There are
          also several EU countries (e.g. UK, Ireland, Denmark, Latvia) that don't
          issue ID cards at all.

          In principle you are supposed to have a national ID card or passport
          when crossing a national border within the Schengen area, even if though
          these are not supposed to be routinely checked.

          Of course, the authorities sometimes take liberties with these
          regulations, and there are often grey areas. For example, I believe in
          the Netherlands, you're only supposed to be asked for ID if you've
          either committed or are suspected or committing a crime. However, there
          was a period of sillyness a few years ago when the Dutch police
          obviously needed to get their conviction rates up and start randomly
          stopping people and then fining them for not having ID. I heard there
          were a huge number of legal challenges against this, and something like
          more than one third of the fines ended-up being overturned on the
          grounds the police had not had significant cause to ask for ID.

          In the UK we don't have ID cards and I've never been asked to prove my
          identity to the authorities; whether in the street, driving or accessing
          a public service. Different countries have difference attitudes to this,
          but in the UK "being asked for one's papers" is considered the hallmark
          of a police state and is extremely unpopular with the public. The
          previous government had well-advanced proposals to introduce ID cards,
          but the current government reversed these as pretty much its first act
          upon taking office.

          Regards,

          Kevin Meynell
        • Christopher R. Merlo
          ... I remember you saying this once, and I was reminded of it during the most recent season of Border Wars (am I the only one who watches that show?) when,
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 16, 2012
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            On Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 10:45 PM, Dallen Timothy <Dallen.Timothy@...> wrote:

            C)      Incidentally, in December when I was last at the US-Mexico border, there was something fairly unusual. The US border officers (from all agencies involved) are very good about respecting the sovereign territory of Mexico. They will not step into Mexico even one inch.

            I remember you saying this once, and I was reminded of it during the most recent season of Border Wars (am I the only one who watches that show?) when, during a prisoner swap, officers from each country, who seemed quite friendly with each other, met at the border on one of the El Paso bridges.  Mostly the Mexican officers came across to move the drug evidence from a pickup in the US into their vehicle, but I swore I saw an American officer cross the line for a moment to, like, shake hands or something.  I remembered that scene because it was so shocking, in light of what you've told us about their directive not to.  I've wondered since if anything happened to that guy, since it was on TV and all.

            Also, in a different episode, two or three agents were tracing a drug tunnel, and I feel like they may have crossed the border -- I imagine it's not so well marked in an illegal tunnel.
            -c
          • george
            ... most ... show?) ... I do not receive National Geographic Channel with my cable TV package. Is anyone aware whether Border Wars is rerun on another cable
            Message 5 of 6 , Feb 17, 2012
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              --- In borderpoint@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher R. Merlo" <cmerlo441@...> wrote:
              >
              > I remember you saying this once, and I was reminded of it during the most
              > recent season of Border Wars (am I the only one who watches that show?)
              >

              I do not receive National Geographic Channel with my cable TV package.

              Is anyone aware whether Border Wars is rerun on another cable channel, such as Discovery or History or ??

            • farci52
              A YouTube search comes up with random episodes
              Message 6 of 6 , Feb 18, 2012
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                A YouTube search comes up with random episodes

                --- In borderpoint@yahoogroups.com, "george" <geoh88@...> wrote:
                >
                >
                >
                > --- In borderpoint@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher R. Merlo"
                > <cmerlo441@> wrote:
                > >
                > > I remember you saying this once, and I was reminded of it during the
                > most
                > > recent season of Border Wars (am I the only one who watches that
                > show?)
                > >
                >
                > I do not receive National Geographic Channel with my cable TV package.
                >
                > Is anyone aware whether Border Wars is rerun on another cable channel,
                > such as Discovery or History or ??
                >
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