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Old 02-01-2004, 11:17 PM   #1
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Welcome to (G Bush's Homeland Security) America- Now, Get the f*ck out!

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When American authorities can shackle, jail, humiliate and deport a plain British tourist, the question has to be asked: What has the U.S. become post-9/11?

By Rosi Hygate
Rosi Hygate, who was raised and educated in Britain, is a naturalized American citizen.

February 1, 2004

After nearly 10 years, my brother John was coming to Los Angeles from England to see me. Our mother had recently died, so it seemed especially important to be together. He would help me celebrate my birthday, then we would travel to Northern California.

John arrived at LAX at 2:45 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon last month. That was as close as he got to seeing me. After inspecting his passport, immigration officials informed him that there was a problem.

About 26 years ago, he was convicted in Britain of cocaine possession. He paid the required fine and never touched drugs again. In fact, he went on to work for more than 20 years for the British government as a prison liaison officer. But that wasn't good enough for the U.S.

Over the two days that followed his arrival, he was searched five times, fingerprinted 10 times and photographed again and again. Not until nearly three hours after he was originally detained was John even allowed to call me. By that time, I was extremely worried. On the phone, he asked me not to speak because he was not permitted to talk long or tell me anything other than that he was being sent back to the U.K. "I'm here and they are sending me back," he said.

Then the call was abruptly terminated. I subsequently found out that he had been handcuffed at the time, and the phone had been pulled away.

I was terrified and confused about what to do. My 58-year-old brother is a diabetic with high blood pressure and a heart condition. He is a solid, law-abiding citizen.

I immediately called a good immigration attorney, assuming things could be quickly resolved. I was shocked by what I learned. In this country, in the post-9/11 era, my brother has no rights, not even the right to go before a judge to plead his case. Nothing could be done. As the attorney said: "This is what immigration lawyers are up against under the Patriot Act."

Government officials testifying last week before the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks described reforms they say have tightened U.S. border security. But it seems like it should be possible to screen out genuine terrorist threats while still allowing tourists from Britain, our closest ally in the Iraq war, to visit family members here.

My brother, I know anecdotally, is not alone in being stopped at the border, and I suspect the problem is bigger than any of us realizes.

After my brother's phone call, I assumed he had been sent home. So the next day, I started calling him in the UK. There was no answer. My brother's daughter and my younger brother had not heard from him either. I was frantic. Was he in a hospital somewhere? Had he been detained?

My travel agent managed to get through to officials at United (the airline he flew in on) and learned that he had been taken to a "facility" in downtown Los Angeles. It was more than 24 hours after he was first taken into custody that we heard he was en route from downtown back to LAX for a 5:30 p.m. flight to London. I asked to speak to him at the airport. My request was denied.

I did not learn the complete story until my brother was once again on British soil. After being detained handcuffed and searched at LAX on Thursday afternoon, he was confined to a fairly comfortable room until 1 a.m. Friday. He was then moved to a jail facility in Los Angeles, where for nine hours he was placed in a holding cell with a sloping stainless steel bench designed to prevent anyone from lying down.

Sometime Friday afternoon he was taken back to LAX in handcuffs, paraded through the airport on legs now swollen from his diabetes and held back until all the other passengers had boarded. He was then walked down the aisle of the plane, still in handcuffs, and placed next to a terrified woman who had to be reassured that he was not dangerous. His passport was confiscated and given to a flight attendant, who kept it until the plane landed in London.

John was told by U.S. officials that if he had arranged for a visa before departing the UK, this whole thing would not have happened. Yet, according to the State Department, England is part of the visa waiver program that allows British citizens to come to the U.S. as tourists without visas.

One immigration officer suggested that John go to the U.S. Embassy in London, get a visa and return to the U.S. John's reply saddens me. He said, "My sister loves your country. I will never set foot in it again."

After an 11-hour flight, his swollen legs made worse by the confinement of a transcontinental flight, John arrived home. The British immigration officer who met him (he had to remain in his seat until all passengers had disembarked) apologized for what had happened, returned his passport and sent him home.

I have lived in the U.S. for 20 years. I became a citizen because I am proud of this country. I am disappointed in the way my country behaved toward my brother.

The British have been staunch allies of the U.S. But from my vantage point, it appears the loyalty goes in just one direction.
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Old 02-01-2004, 11:33 PM   #2
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The only people safe, it seems, are American-born WASPs.

Of course, that's who wrote and passed the Patriot Act in the first place.

Melon
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Old 02-01-2004, 11:46 PM   #3
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Disgusting. At least he was sent home.
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Old 02-02-2004, 12:11 AM   #4
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Any links to this one deep?
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Old 02-02-2004, 12:18 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Any links to this one deep?
los angeles times


it is a free subscription
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Old 02-02-2004, 11:01 AM   #6
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This is disgusting. This "homeland security" thing has gone completely nuts.
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Old 02-02-2004, 12:18 PM   #7
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Lovely story.
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Old 02-02-2004, 03:06 PM   #8
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Doesn't suprise me in the least.
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Old 02-02-2004, 03:18 PM   #9
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Definitely, a horrible experience for John.

I know we all want to jump to the "Patriot Act Must Go" conclusion, but is this incident a result of a Patriot Act directive, or a poorly trained or overly cautious immigration official? Too many facts are missing before we can jump to these conclusions.


Rosi Hygate obviously has her own conclusions and is using her family anecdote to further her ideas.
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Old 02-02-2004, 03:49 PM   #10
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Re: Welcome to (G Bush's Homeland Security) America- Now, Get the f*ck out!

Quote:
Originally posted by deep
But it seems like it should be possible to screen out genuine terrorist threats while still allowing tourists from Britain, our closest ally in the Iraq war, to visit family members here.
Exactly.

And to nbcrusader:

Quote:
Originally posted by deep
My brother, I know anecdotally, is not alone in being stopped at the border, and I suspect the problem is bigger than any of us realizes.
This person notes that their brother isn't the only one who's been through something along these lines. They're not just using their family anecdote to further some cause. If this weren't happening to other people, then you might be able to blame it on one immigration official acting ridculously. But since it is, well...it certainly at least raises some questions.

Quote:
Originally posted by deep
John's reply saddens me. He said, "My sister loves your country. I will never set foot in it again."
. That's horrible. It's even worse when you consider that not everyone who lives here would have treated him that badly.

This story makes me very sad, and just seems to show that the terrorists have indeed won, for everyone is now suspicious and fearful of each other.

Angela
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Old 02-02-2004, 04:14 PM   #11
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It saddens me as well if it is indeed a complete and true account of all of the facts.

There have been other stories posted in here over the past year in which over time, facts later revealed the total picture, which changed my opinion on the situation.

I stand with NB on this.
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Old 02-02-2004, 07:59 PM   #12
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If these aren't all the facts, and it turns out it has nothing to do with the Patriot Acts and it was indeed just one immigration official being overzealous, then I will definitely change my opinion.

But as of now, especially after the part in there mentioning that this man was not the only one who experienced something like this, well...

Angela
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Old 02-02-2004, 08:39 PM   #13
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Would you come to the same conclusion if the story was about one person suffering abuse at the hands of anti-war protestors, and the writer also "heard other anecdotal" stories of abuse by anti-war protestors?

It sounds like a case of guilty until proven innocent.....
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Old 02-03-2004, 01:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Would you come to the same conclusion if the story was about one person suffering abuse at the hands of anti-war protestors, and the writer also "heard other anecdotal" stories of abuse by anti-war protestors?

It sounds like a case of guilty until proven innocent.....


if this story is indeed 100% true then it is indeed sad. but i'd rather have a few sad stories of relatives unable to see each other over a misunderstanding with immigration than thousands of stories of people who lost loved ones who were just going to work for the day...

the system is not perfect. no system is perfect for everybody. but i'll take an over-cautious approach to an under-cautious one anyday... but maybe that's just me
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Old 02-03-2004, 01:59 PM   #15
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It's a false comparison. The immigration officials operate under the authority of the government of the United States. When there are several instances of individuals being treated as described in the article, it's reasonable to suspect that it's as a result of a policy they are expected to carry out.

Anti-war protestors, on the other hand, aren't under the control or authority of a government or other institution. Therefore if a person was insulted by an anti-war protestor and heard of other examples of this, it wouldn't suggest that anti-war protestors were expected to act in the way, but rather that some individuals chose of their own free will to act in an insulting manner.
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