American border police overzealous

November 25, 2005

I’ve just been reading Hossein Derakhshan’s (aka Hoder) account of being stopped at the border in Toronto about to go back to New York. It’s pretty depressing reading of an overzealous immigration officer Googling his name and decided to bar him on what sounds like pretty illegitimate grounds.

I had an equally depressing (though not so distressing) experience going through U.S. Customs on my way to Canada recently. I had to fly via Hawaii from Australia and this forced me to go through U.S. Customs. They appear to have no conception of the idea of passengers in transit, so you have to go through the entire rigmarole of having my fingerprints scanned and my picture taken. All for a country I didn’t even want to visit at that time.

It was pretty appalling on the way back too, the Customs guy couldn’t have been more bored out of his mind, slouched at his desk and waving his hand at me saying, “so, where ‘ya been, whatcha doing, where ‘ya goin’” before forgetting to give me my stamp so I got stopped and turned back later down the track. I can understand my fellow delegates that I met in Banff who were from the U.S. feeling like they needed to escape.

Popular opinion around the world is that Americans are stupid. This may be true of some sections of American society, but it has also attracted some of the brightest minds in the world over the past. But it is easy to imagine an enormous brain-drain as the political climate continues its decline.