The International Writers Magazine: Flying to the USA
Where 'Sorry' Seems To Be The Hardest Word
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
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 disasterı written all over it. May I respectfully suggest
that saying sorryı may be a reasonable start?
© Fred Pattison
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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