Coffee, Tea or Handcuffs?

Yahoo has this story about an Australian hack getting into an awful lot of trouble for not getting the right Visa.

This is pretty bad behavious by the officials, I wonder how it will be investigated.

The CBP agent who read Smethursts travelers questionnaire took her to a secondary inspection area 30 feet away and told her to wait, then left for half an hour. He returned with additional uniformed staff who, professionally and pleasantly enough, asked more questions.

What sort of stories did she write? What kind of magazine was New Idea?

Where was it published? What was its circulation? Does it print politically sensitive articles? When would her interview appear? Who would be reading it?

I laughed, Smethurst recalls, because were a cross between Good Housekeeping and People magazine. The most political thing wed likely print was Laura Bushs horoscope.

The polite interrogation continued. Who was her father? His occupation? Her mothers maiden name and occupation? What were their dates of birth, where did they live?

The agents gravely nodded at Smethursts replies and left once more, promising to return. When they came back half an hour later, one of the officers offered Smethurst a cup of airport coffee.

I thought at that stage something was quite wrong, Smethurst says, so I asked the man with the coffee if there was some problem.

I will tell you when theres a problem, he abruptly snapped, according to Smethurst. Then he pointed to a nearby sign:

Your Silence Is Appreciated

At about noon, CBP informed Smethurst she would be denied entre into the United States: While Australian tourists visiting the United States are visa-waived for 90 days, working journalists need a special I-Visa, which Smethurst had not been aware of and did not possess. She had, after all, flown into LAX on the same passport eight times previously without incident. Now she was being asked to raise her right hand and swear that her answers had been truthful, then was fingerprinted and photographed — every time she comes to America, her swiped passport will bring up this documentation of her rejection. As Smethursts inked fingers were rolled onto the government form, she noticed its heading:

Criminal.

2 thoughts on “Coffee, Tea or Handcuffs?”

  1. Do you know whats really crazy about this, if you travel out of Dublin or Shannon you go through security in Ireland and to say it’s more lax than in the States would be an understatement.

    I got more hassle traveling with my parents on holiday at Orlando international, than I did when I entered the US on a J-1 visa by leaving Dublin. They didn’t ask a single question in Dublin. In fact the looked pretty unhappy to have got the customs job and then been shipped to Ireland!

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