Friday, 21 September 2007

The hazards of traveling to the U.S.

"Nalini Ghuman, an up-and-coming musicologist and expert on the British composer Edward Elgar, was stopped at the San Francisco airport in August last year and, without explanation, told that she was no longer allowed to enter the United States.

Ms. Ghuman, an assistant professor at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., who is British and who had lived, studied and worked in this country for 10 years before her abrupt exclusion.

...Ms. Ghuman’s descent into the bureaucratic netherworld began on Aug. 8, 2006, when she and Mr. Flight returned to San Francisco from a research trip to Britain. Armed immigration officers met them at the airplane door and escorted Ms. Ghuman away.

In a written account of the next eight hours that she prepared for her lawyer, Ms. Ghuman said that officers tore up her H-1B visa, which was valid through May 2008, defaced her British passport, and seemed suspicious of everything from her music cassettes to the fact that she had listed Welsh as a language she speaks. A redacted government report about the episode obtained by her lawyer under the Freedom of Information Act erroneously described her as “Hispanic.”

Held incommunicado in a room in the airport, she was groped during a body search, she said, and was warned that if she moved, she would be considered to be attacking her armed female searcher. After questioning her for hours, the officers told her that she had been ruled inadmissible, she said, and threatened to transfer her to a detention center in Santa Clara, Calif., unless she left on a flight to London that night."

Full story here. (Courtesy of BoingBoing).

Also,

Airport cops' database includes your reading material

"
John Gilmore and Bill Scannell have used Freedom of Information requests to show that the US airport screeners are creating records of the race, personal possessions and reading material of the travelers they pull over for secondary screening."

More here.

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