Friday, March 18, 2005

US Immigration Strip Searches Canadian Blogger

I, too, read this article and immediately thought, "Is Ian okay?"

Turns out that the blogger in question was not BOP's Ian Welsh, but Canadian blogger Jeremy Wright. Jeremy was detained and interrogated by US Immigration when he arrived in New York last week for a meeting with a US media company to discuss a job as a blogger. It appears that the immigration people simply did not believe that Jeremy could make a living as a blogger. And they gave him the third degree - including an humiliating strip search - as a result for some hours. And banned him from entering the US--or at least made the legally empty threat that he was banned.

Jeremy has pulled the original posts that provided the full details of his experience with the government representatives of his friendly neighbour to the south (ahem), but wraps it all with a post on the end of the story, that includes this delightful exchange with immigration officials:

Him: Why would you visit someone in the states you’d never met (I mentioned I was planning to visit several people whilst down there)
Me: Well, I have met most of them, but I’ve talked to them dozens or hundreds of times online.
Him: Do you have any of their phone numbers?
Me: No, but I talk
Him: You can’t talk to someone without a phone number. Stop lying to me.
Me: No, really, I can talk from my computer to theirs
Him: Don’t be a smartass. If you don’t have their phone number, and you’ve never met them, how can you have ever talked to them.
Me: … (at this point I’ve learned that sarcasm doesn’t help, nor does answering questions he doesn’t want to hear the answer to)
Him: So, you’re trying to tell me that you’re going to visit someone who you’ve never met, never talked to and who knows nothing about you? And I’m supposed to believe this?
Me: … (This was two hours in, and minutes before I demanded to be released)
[Given that I met my husband online--and proposed to him an hour after we met in person--I can't say how much my heart goes out to Jeremy on this one.]

I have to say that Jeremy is taking this with better humour than I'm afraid I would. To their collective credit, bloggers all over the place have been supportive of Jeremy and have been very supportive, and even CBS Marketwatch has run a story on how immigratin is protecting us from evil Canadians.

Earth to Karen Hughes: it doesn't matter how many Happy American Muslim videos you churn out as the Czarina as propaganda. Putting Gestapo on your borders to harass law-abiding citizens *really* isn't doing anything for you PR.

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