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The International Writers Magazine
: Flying to the USA

United States Immigration ­
Where 'Sorry' Seems To Be The Hardest Word
Fred Pattison
Another horror story fromthe world's largest rogue state

Recent press articles regarding the impending closure of a deal to track foreign visitors will only serve to strike further alarm into UK citizens following the recent highly publicised instances of abuse by US Immigration officials of British tourists visiting the States.

Recently my brother was stopped at JFK airport immigration because an erroneous Interpol entry had appeared on the US Immigration computer system, which related to an alleged civil offence in Qatar some 6 years earlier. He was immediately separated from my wife in, what the US euphemistically describe as, a secure environment, manacled hand and foot and refused food and water before being deported. US immigration officials also roundly abused his deeply traumatised wife, smirking as she was sent out into the New York night, while struggling with heavy cases. Our own Foreign Office were disinclined to intervene but tacitly admitted that they were aware of such systematic abuse of UK citizens and viewed US treatment as heavy handed and unnecessary. No one would own up to the defective computer entry ­ Interpol wouldnıt comment and the Qatar government expressed deep concern that they had no knowledge of any offence.
The US authorities have, to date, avoided any offer of apology or compensation simply quoting that they played things by the book. Now letıs hold that thought for a moment as it mirrors justifications made for abuse in the Second World War.

The US, a supposedly civilised state and leader of the western world, 'routinely manacles' civilians at their airport terminals.

Does the US seriously expect UK citizens to tolerate such behaviour from a country with which we supposedly enjoy a special relationship? Put it another way - would US citizens tolerate such behaviour from the UK? Quite frankly I wouldnıt expect them to. My brothers own experience has been mirrored by many other individuals who have since come forward following the publicity surrounding what happened. According to recently published statistics, UK visits to the US have declined by some 30% - is anyone surprised? It would already appear that US immigration currently rely on a computer system containing incorrect information and treat everyone as a terrorist without applying a modicum of common sense.

I recently flew from the UK to Boston via Philadelphia. Thorough checks were made upon departure in the UK and upon arrival at Philadelphia. No checks were made prior to boarding the internal flight to Boston. One may reasonably ask ­ why? At the present time at least we know whom we can blame for the thuggish and despicable behaviour of US immigration at JFK. Should the current proposals outlined to outsource responsibility reach fruition then apportioning blame will become even more of a lottery. The answer lies in the hands of the US themselves: -
Treat people with civility
Use common sense and obtain correct information
Be prepared to admit you sometimes get it wrong and say sorry.

We would all, at least, be much happier in the UK that way. Until then, for Americans at least, they appear to be entering into further arrangements where they will only be digging ever deeper into an unfathomable hole that has Œdisasterı written all over it. May I respectfully suggest that saying Œsorryı may be a reasonable start?
© Fred Pattison

More World Journeys here

Hacktreks Travel Advisory: If in doubt about travel to the USA do seek advice. Miami , LA and NY are very tough to get throught right now and expect five hours wait before you go and more the other end. Extra staff are being drafted in from smaller airports but they tend to follow the lead of the established staff there. Make sure your documents are in order and they will reject ANYONE who does not have an address to go to. Fly drive is out for the moment. You are warned.


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