.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The development of an international police regime

Further news in this morning's Observer about the extraordinary measures being brought in by the USA to protect their borders and the impact on those travelling to the States. I wrote earlier about the fact that Britons travelling to America will now have their e-mail and credit card details inspected by the US Authorities, now it seems that they will also have their fingerprints stored on the FBI database alongside those of criminals.

The Observer has established that under new plans to combat terrorism, the US government will demand that visitors have all 10 fingers scanned when they enter the country. The information will be shared with intelligence agencies, including the FBI, with no restrictions on their international use.

US airport scanners now take only two fingerprints from travellers. The move to 10 allows the information to be compatible with the FBI database.

'We are going to start testing at several airports,' a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman confirmed. 'It will begin some time this summer.'

Sources said 10 airports would initially be involved. The scheme will cover most of the major airports frequently used by British travellers, including New York, Washington and Miami. Countries subject to the new scheme include Britain, other European Union nations, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The paper reports that the director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, has described the initiative as the 'Keystone Cops school of border control.' She believes that accumulating the fingerprints of millions of innocent passengers will not deter would-be suicide bombers. Whilst security experts have warned that the scale of the scheme might jeopardise its success.

One thing is certain, anybody wishing to visit fortress America in future, will now spend a large amount of time queuing just to get out of the airport.
Frankly, I find it more inconvenient traveling to Cardiff from the USA for lack of direct scheduled flights between the US and Cardiff airport. It is particularly inconvenient and expensive for my senior mother who either catches a flight from Cardiff to Schiphol airport in Holland via a small KLM plane to later catch a connecting flight out to the USA or had to travel to Heathrow to get a scheduled flight to the USA. My mother has lost count the number of times KLM did not carry her luggage on the small plane on the return flight from Schiphol to Cardiff.

Mum finally switched to flights out of Heathrow which entailed forking out over a lot of her pension on hiring a cab to/from Heathrow … she can’t carry heavy luggage onto/off a train to Paddington then struggle with the luggage via the tube to Heathrow. It got so awful for her that I actually flew to London and traveled to Cardiff to accompany her back to the USA.

When is Cardiff finally going to have a true International Airport? Anyone know? There are lots of holiday flights to see the attractions in Orlando, but no regular commercial/scheduled service to the USA.

Anyway, the finger-printing exercise is done just once (for fresh British visitors to the USA), those that have given some fingerprints will just have to put up with it being done again (this time for ten fingers) and then zip times more. I rather have my fingerprints taken one time than deal with the nonsensical lack of commercial flights between Cardiff and the USA.

Anyone know what happens to a US citizen traveling on a fiancée visa into Heathrow? Answer: medical examination (including an x-ray) with no official prior warning. How do I know?

My American wife-to-be experienced the sharp end of the UK version of INS (immigration naturalization service). My darling was pulled out of a queue at Heathrow and subject to a medical examination (including an X-ray) with NO PRIOR WARNING.

She did not appear with the other passengers from her plane, I was kept waiting for some hours in the arrivals area at Heathrow frantic with worry (I checked and rechecked with United who told me she was definitely on the plane when it landed at Heathrow airport).

Later, when I learned what happened to her I was shocked. She could have been pregnant. It was very upsetting and quite shocking way for the British immigration authorities to treat an in-bound American female of 27 years of age.

Her sin? She was visiting me on a fiancée visa obtained from a UK consulate office in the USA. Apparently this is what happens to women traveling into the UK on fiancée visas.

In contrast I have never been treated so appalling by the US Immigration and Naturalization Serice (INS, now called: USCIS); INS never subjected me to a medical examination and x-ray without prior warning at a US airport.

The treatment meted out to US females traveling into the UK on fiancée visas was (and maybe still is) nothing short of appalling. The once-only finger printing exercise is a mere inconvenience and certainly does not amount to an assault of one's body. My fiancée had a choice: subject herself to this surprise medical or return to the USA. They asked her if she was pregnant - SHE DID NOT KNOW, so they x-rayed her anyway. It was sickening. Complain and she would have been on the next return flight to the USA.

Anyone experienced the joys of the British Home Office's Lunar House in Croydon? I can write chapter and verse on that appalling place - a sweat shop in summer, no a/c, line after line, waiting for hours to get a certain letter granting work authorization. In contrast, I got my work authorization on arrival at JFK - no fuss, a stamp on my British passport and I had work-authorization - INSTANTLY. In contrast, I had to drive my American wife to the hell-hole known as Lunar House. An experience that was not the least bit nice - give me fingerprinting, but not LUNAR HOUSE.

How arrogant we are sometimes and how ignorant we are - we point the finger at America and don't see the appalling way we treat new immigrants to the UK. I've seen it "Eyes Wide Open" and it is NOT NICE. It is awful. I never experienced such humiliation and line waiting that was Lunar House. Lunar House is a bloody disgrace. Corrupt and awful.
I would just like to add that the stress my senior mother experienced traveling between the USA and Cardiff motivated me to become her agent and sponsor her for a Green Card. She can now stay with me as long as she likes without the constant hassle caused by a lack of a half-decent international flight schedule between Cardiff and major US cities.

PS Thanks to Peter for his blog. Good place for debate and discussion. Soon as the next election round is over I guess Peter will be back to signature collecting!

I wanted to comment on Chris Wood's experience which is different to mine.

When my wife got her work authorisation (2003) it took 3 hours in the British Consulate general in LA, with my daughter being fed bread and jam!! She got it, and her residence permit was just a formality a year later.

If you want to talk about hell holes, try the US consulate general in London. No air conditioning hours of waiting! Just to be told, no! Of course they have already taken your money.

My ardent belief is, the reason why the US has a illegal problem, especially here in the South West. Stems from the absurd fees they charge (imagine a poor Mexican from a remote village trying to get to this country legally!!) The USINS is a great big beaucracy that cannot handle anything. If they deported all the illegals, the economy in the South West would collaspe.

BTW Chris since you had mentioned me in a recent letter to the Echo (when they had you living in Dodge City) I have been trying to get hold of you!! you are quite a elusive fellow :)
Hi Michael!

Yeah, the Echo (or maybe the Western Mail) associated my name with your Dodge City address. Peter Black did a similar thing (and he corrected the error), he thought I lived in WV when in fact I live in VA.

I'm dead easy to find - e.g. just type something like: “lawyers christopher wood daniel eisenberg" into Google or you can just email me at: chriswood@premierpatents.com and I will respond.

Dodge City sort of grew up out of “gunsmoke” … did you hear about the multiple shooting at an IP law firm in a high-rise in downtown Chicago?


Two lawyers (Hoover and McKenna) and a part time assistant (Paul Goodson, such a kind man), shot dead; Ruth (McKenna’s paralegal, who I correspond with as Michael was my first Chicago-lawyer client, was shot in the foot - I saw her at the funeral, Ruth was still traumatized).


Michael McKenna was a dear friend and such a personable kind guy you could ever hope to meet. I wrote a letter about Michael’s good nature (in part to counter the awful press from some who said bad things about him merely because he was a lawyer, there was no substance whatsoever for the scally-wag commentary). McKenna and Ruth made sure apple pie was close to hand after I got my US citizenship. The letter was published in the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune (probably also in the Chicago Law Bulletin, but I can’t check since I no longer live in Chicago, the online version is a subscription service).


I worked as a clerk in that law firm for some 2 years (and lived just across the street in a 50 floor high-rise, my apartment was on the 42nd floor and faced Sears Tower - when the planes hit the WTC on 9-11 I watched to see if the missing United flight was going to crash into Sears Tower, there were terrible rumours that the missing United flight was heading for Sears Tower) and later as a lawyer. I attended Michael’s wake and funeral. It was awful to see the carnage on the families and former work friends. Once I qualified as a lawyer I moved out of Chicago to begin the long haul of starting my own law firm on the east coast in the DC metro area. I practice federal IP law, though we have handled the odd DUI/contract dispute case (state law). But I concentrate on Federal IP law (e.g., I avoid state trade secret law and state trademarks).


I concur that both sides (UK and USA) has problems with handling/processing paperwork - but when “they” came up with “something wicked this way comes” I'm sure "they" were thinking of Lunar House! I nearly got locked out of that Stalinist place going for fresh air - the lines and processing there was so long and oppressive (apparently "they" had to get hardcopy files from another building) we were still in Lunar House when the regular office staff had gone home for the night.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?