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US to fingerprint 'allied' visitors
April 2, 2004 11:01 AM   Subscribe

I feel safer already! A US requirement for foreign visitors to be fingerprinted and photographed is being expanded to include citizens from America's closest allies, starting September 30th.
posted by johnnydark (22 comments total)

 
Gee whiz! Instead of doing it on the anniversary of 9-11, they've decided to do it on my birthday and the anniversary of James Dean's death. Let me put on my tinfoil hat while I ponder the timing...
posted by wendell at 11:07 AM on April 2, 2004


The last few times I went through customs I thought the US VISIT cameras and thumbscanner dealies at every station seemed a little overkill -- especially in every US citizen lanes.

The BBC article says the programme (oops) is being widened to countries that do not require a visa since those countries will not be ready to have conterfiet-proof passports by then.

How is that going to work? Is everyone from the UK that wants to visit the US going to need to get a new passport or face getting put into the US VISIT database?

Also, can we please stop naming these programs with cute acronyms that often do not describe the program (US VISIT, PATRIOT, etc)
posted by birdherder at 11:23 AM on April 2, 2004


I won't feel safe until they add a strip search also.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 11:55 AM on April 2, 2004


I will no longer be spending any of my tourism dollars down south; i won't be subject to evidence being collected against me for crimes i haven't - nor ever will commit. Innocent until proven guilty used to mean something.
posted by drgonzo at 12:21 PM on April 2, 2004


...is being expanded to include citizens from America's closest allies...

Sometimes suspected terrorists reside in our most closely allied countries...
posted by dhoyt at 12:22 PM on April 2, 2004


And maybe some kind of badge that all foreigners could be required to wear on their clothing, for ease of local law enforcement identification, you know, just in case of any problems?

Of course, that could never happen in The Land Of The Free (tm). Not at the moment. But fascism gets in by creeping, and each time it creeps forward, people rationalize it by saying, "Oh it's just a security measure."

I suspect that the scanners and cameras in the US Citizen lanes are there because they are (eventually) intended to be used. After the populace accepts the "necessity" of treating all visitors as criminals, it's not that far a stretch to accept it for themselves.
posted by Tholian at 12:25 PM on April 2, 2004


As a kid, I gave my fingerprints to anyone who gave me an ink pad. Why should I care if Uncle Sam asks me for them. I don't plan on committing any (i mean many) crimes down south.

I'm more concerned when gov't officials strip our civil rights and privacy and call it national security...
posted by ChristFollower at 12:29 PM on April 2, 2004


Haven't Americans had to fill in forms when they return to their own country for some time, never mind that non-nationals have to do the same? Land of the free my pigging arse.
posted by biffa at 12:31 PM on April 2, 2004


The last time I visited the States I arrived at Pearson International Airport without a passport or a birth certificate. Being a Canadian citizen, they let me in by looking at my license. Strangely enough, President Bush arrived in Manhattan the same day I did, in late June 2001. I was there for FlashForward. He was there to impress. I'm not going back until there's a regime change. Hopefully this Christmas.

Upon return to Toronto, Canadian Customs was shocked U.S. Customs let me in. Clearly the terrorists have influenced U.S. Customs policy. I thought such influence was limited to the Spanish and the coalition of the those with a different opinion, er, I mean the coalition of the unwilling.
posted by juiceCake at 12:38 PM on April 2, 2004


ChristFollower, safe to say in this case, A = B.

Being put on an always-search database if your passport is more than 8 months old, regardless of the friendliness of your homeland to the States, is at minimum an inconvenience and at worst an invasive and arbitrary form of stigmatization.
posted by chicobangs at 12:52 PM on April 2, 2004


Haven't Americans had to fill in forms when they return to their own country for some time

Yes, we have to fill in customs declaration forms. I've seen US immigration officers give their own citizens a terrible time on re-entry, also--thankfully, I've always gone through without incident, but it actually makes me quite nervous to re-enter the US. It's a shame, really.
posted by Tholian at 12:54 PM on April 2, 2004


Canadians are exempt from this program. As are Mexicans with border crossing cards. No link. I just saw it on CNN.

I get hassled by the customs people when returning to the US because my passport got wet a few years back and so the photo page is kinda wrinkled and sometimes won't scan in that scanner thing the first time. So they give me the evil eye before letting me go on my way. I'm wondering when they'll start asking USians for their prints/photos at re-entry?
posted by birdherder at 2:15 PM on April 2, 2004


Sometimes suspected terrorists reside in our most closely allied countries...

exactly.

I just hope that, for democracy's sake, next time Tony Blair, or, say Silvio Berlusconi, or even by-now-unemployed José María Aznar López (lots of free time to take vacations) travel to the US -- nothing to buy you a little trip to Camp David or a dinner at the White House like providing some precious multilateral cannon fodder -- well I hope next time these guys visit the US, some immigration cop gets their fingerprints. and mug shot, too. you never know.
we are all against special treatment for VIPs, right?

(how many allied countries will return the favor and start fingerprinting American tourists? I can already imagine mr Zapatero and mr Fischer and mr De Villepin thinking that just maybe...


FADE IN
INT. CHARLES DE GAULLE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS GATE -- DAY

US TOURIST
Say what?

JERRY LEWIS-LOVING FRENCH COP n.1
Will you be so kind as to raise your right hand, sir?

US TOURIST'S WIFE
Henry, do as the French gentleman tells you.

J L-L FRENCH COP n. 1
Oui, s'il vous plait.

BAGUETTE-EATING, BERET WEARING FRENCH COP n.2
*snicker*

US TOURIST
*bellowing*
FINGEPRINTS? WHAT DO YOU THINK I AM SOME SORT OF CRIMINAL??? I AM SO CALLING MY LAWYER I HAVE MY RIGHTS! WHAT DO YOU THINK I AM A FUCKING RAGH--

US TOURIST'S WIFE
*interrupting*
Henry please! Watch your mouth!

CAMUS-READING FRENCH COP N.3
Yes, pleez, monsieur, humor us. A leetle ink?

US TOURIST
WITHOUT US YOU GUYS WILL ALL BE SPEAKING GERM--

*sound of handcuffs snapping shut around wrists, of a woman sobbing, of FRENCH COPS snickering*

SURRENDER-LOVING, HORNY FRENCH COP N. 4
Excuse moi monsieur, mais c'est la nouvelle loi. La LOI PATRIOT --
*more snickers*
permet aux flics de t'arrêter. Sans expliquer les motifs. Cool, huh? We'll show you the Bastille then!

FADE TO BLACK
posted by matteo at 3:33 PM on April 2, 2004


I'm wondering when they'll start asking USians for their prints/photos at re-entry?

Probably never, as Americans are voters. If you want to make the impression that you are increasing security, it will always be safer politically to screen non-voters harder.

I suspect that the scanners and cameras in the US Citizen lanes are there because they are (eventually) intended to be used.

I suspect the scanners in the citizen lane are there for cases like our family. Our toddler son is a citizen, so our family can use that lane, but me and wife aren't, so they want to take our prints.
posted by Triplanetary at 4:26 PM on April 2, 2004


About ten years ago I flew into Rome from another European country, and when the customs officer saw my American passport on the counter he didn't even bother to open it. This, in an airport where soldiers patrolled the terminals four-in-a-row, and carried machine guns.

It scared the hell out of me.

I can't see that I would mind so much if customs officers (in any country) took the time to (hey, here's an idea) verify my identity.
posted by vignettist at 5:12 PM on April 2, 2004


Go watch the great Canadian film Highway 61, if only for the scene in which Jello Biafra, playing a U.S. Customs Agent, gets to hassle the Canadians.
posted by gluechunk at 7:04 PM on April 2, 2004


Maybe it was the news that there are now more practicing Moslems in Britain than Anglicans.

Would it be better if they were doing it to nab Soccer hooligans? Trying to sneak over here and spread their fanatical belief in soccer is just plain un-American.

Football(*) is the one true faith.

(*)the kind with real men and helmets, not nancy boys running around in shorts and hitting balls with their heads.
posted by kablam at 8:33 PM on April 2, 2004


Entering US can be really nerve racking even when you know that you haven't (ever) done anything (really) bad.

My wife could never understand why I was telling her to "behave" when going through passport control until the day we entered Saigon and I walked through with my Finnish passport and she was investigated like a criminal of the "American War" with her US passport even though her participation in th ecrimes in question was limited since she was born in -76.

It's all make believe security -- by harassing a group of people not eligible to vote ´politicians can seem like they are doing something about this terrorist threat...
posted by zeikka at 10:13 PM on April 2, 2004




Given all the terrorists involved in Sept 11 had legally entered the US, I'm not sure how fingerprinting is supposed to help. It wouldn't have kept any of those terrorists out.

It does help keep people scared of course, that's really important in politics.
posted by jill at 4:38 AM on April 3, 2004


the kind with real men and helmets

Real men don't need body armour to play with a ball.

[/foot-troll]
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:51 PM on April 3, 2004


wow, zeikka. When I went to Saigon (in October '00, so that may be why you had a different experience), they were efficient (if not bubbly) at Tan Son Nhat.

However the guy in front of me in the Immigration line thought he was being very clever and put a $20 bill in his passport for them to find. They found it, all right -- and started screaming at him for trying to bribe them.
posted by Vidiot at 10:09 PM on April 4, 2004


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