US Customs and Border Officials are not Just Vicious – They are Stupid as Well

“Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?”

That is one of the incredibly silly questions the American government requires British visitors to the Land of the Free to answer before they are allowed to enter the US. The American embassy in London must have been frightfully excited when it received a form from a chap who wanted to have a holiday in America which had a tick by “Yes” to that question. The officials weren’t put off by seeing the date of birth of the applicant (he was three months old). They took it very seriously.

The form had been filled in by the baby’s grandfather who was organising a holiday for his family in a place called Florida. He’d got the answers right for everyone else, but when it came to his youngest relative he inadvertently ticked the wrong box. As a result, the baby was refused a visa.

All, however, was not lost. The embassy was prepared to reconsider its decision, but only if the chap (whose date of birth was in 2017) who had said he was intent on terrorism, genocide etc. came from Cheshire to London to be interrogated.

The baby and his parents made the journey. The parents assumed that as soon as the officials saw the baby (they had probably not realised that someone born in 2017 was a baby – maths may well not be thought to be important) they would spot their mistake. Oh no. It seems the embassy officials were entirely humourless about the whole thing. They were deeply offended that anyone might think it eccentric to be frightened of a three month old baby.

Eventually, one must be fair to these awful people, the American border officials gave in. Reluctantly, they accepted that the baby was not a terrorist threat. They said he could go to America. Unfortunately for the grandfather who was paying for the holiday, the decision came too late for the baby to travel with the main party. He and his parents had to take a later flight, at an additional cost of £3,000.

Still, the people of America must be very proud that their safety is taken so seriously.

Two points I suppose have to be made. First, the dotty question on the form has nothing to do with Mr Trump. It was a product of Obama’s presidency. Secondly, (I have to say this because many of my readers would assume otherwise) the baby and the whole family are white and wholly English.

Why on earth does any sane person want to risk coming up against the US Customs and Border Protection?

Baby terrorist

Terrorist in the arms of his grandfather outside the American Embassy

Charles

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9 thoughts on “US Customs and Border Officials are not Just Vicious – They are Stupid as Well

  1. I have travelled in Europe, Oceania, Asia and North America. The only place where I’ve ever been provoked and dread travelling to is the USA. One would think that, say, the Chinese would be monstrous. They’re not. They’ve been efficient and, at times, even courteous. The Australians and Japanese have intense customs enforcement, but they’ve always treated me with respect and have never made me feel as if I were being attacked or degraded in any way. I cannot say the same for the Americans. In the past I could say that it improves once you’re through, but that isn’t the case any more — this goes well into the Obama era. If my mother had chosen a more sensible country to move to I’d never go there at all.

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      • I had to fly to San Francisco last year. After gnashing my teeth at passport control I saw one of the less edifying sights I’ve encountered. A Swedish holidaymaker, not seeing anyone at customs, assumed it was okay to continue. Out of nowhere a customs official stormed up and screamed at him angrily to return to the queue. I was thoroughly disgusted.

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  2. “I have never heard anyone saying anything nice about American customs and border people.” Nor will you hear it from me Charles. The thing that drove us crazy is this. While American citizens and you folks too, were being forced to undergo an unwanted anal exam, regardless of where you were coming from, the southern border was wide open for anyone who was able to get into Mexico to just cross into the US, no questions asked This was going on before O’bama but much worse during his reign..

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  3. “I have never heard anyone say anything nice about American customs and border people”
    Maybe it’s the exception that proves the rule. I’ve only been to the US once and I’d heard all the stories, so it was with slight trepidation that I approached the immigration officer. He asked me just one question “Are you here on business or pleasure?”
    I answered “business” and he waved me through.
    As I was walking away I heard his voice again. “Don’t you go having any fun now.”
    I turned to see a friendly grin and a wink.
    Mind you, this was California. I’ve been told that a common mistake we Europeans make is to assume Americans are a single nationality.

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  4. Flying into LA when my daughter was just eleven. 13 hour flight from Melbourne and we were all strung out and tired. Huge queues at immigration, but an official singles us out as we had a child and waves us straight to the front. Daughter a little unnerved about having to stand behind the line on her own with her passport, but otherwise a stress-free entry to the US.

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