US Immigration Officials

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by DaveyR, Aug 23, 2006.

  1. DaveyR

    DaveyR Retired Moderator
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    A recent discussion over dinner with friends regarding a vacation to Las vegas reminded me of a terrible experience. What happened still angers me to this day and I thought I would relate the story here.

    Almost two years ago my partner Paul had major surgery on both feet. We had already booked a trip to Las Vegas and LA and the surgeon gave him the go ahead to travel as we were flying more than 6 weeks after his surgery. We had to clear customs and immigration in Chicago as this was our first entry point to the US.

    We were met from the plane by a really nice young man with a wheelechair for Paul. He took us through to immigration to the disabled and fast track line. He took Paul up to the immigration officials desk whilst I waited behind the yellow line. Paul was proceesed and given entry fairly quickly. Then the female official asked if I was a family member of his. He explained who I was. She screamed at him that our relationship was NOT legal and I was NOT family. I do mean screamed. People were turning aroung everywhere to see what the commotion was. Then she diverted her attention to me. She screamed at me to "get the hell out of that line and got to the main line".

    In all it took me almost an hour to clear immigration as the line was huge. Once I got through I was really anygry as Paul had been sitting waiting on his own. He was quite upset by the whole experience. I was on a mission by this point and really wanted to complain but Paul made me drop it.

    I have travelled to the US many times and have often (not always) found the immigration staff to be a bit offhand and rude (especially in New York JFK) but this treatment was beyond belief to me.

    Why do you think an immigration official would act in such a rude and so openly homophobic manner? I was shocked that in a Country such as the US an official would behave like this. Do you think I should have "pushed it" and complained or would we have been "marked" forever more? What would you have done?

    Has anyone ever had a similar experience or were we just unlucky on that occasion?

    Interested to hear your thoughts on this.
     
  2. DC_DEEP

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    Dave, give me a while to digest some of this. I do have some responses, but need to be sure I organize my thoughts first.

    Just offhand, though, her behavior was way beyond outrageous and unprofessional. She should have been required to push Paul's wheelchair around and take care of him while you twiddled in the other line. Stupid cow.
     
  3. Lordpendragon

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    I travel a lot - 24 different countries last year - I hear a lot of people saying that they are sick of going to the US now and it is just as bad on internal flights once you are in.

    Even on this site you can see a difference in Homophobia between Europeans and the US.
     
  4. rob_just_rob

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    I haven't had THAT kind of experience with immigration officials, but it doesn't really surprise me. They were always a humourless, power-mad bunch, and it seems you ran across one who is bigoted as well. Regardless whether same-sex relationships are legal in the USA, you aren't from her jurisdiction, and it's none of her business. Even setting that aside, it was extremely insensitive for her to send you back to the other line and make your wheelchair-bound partner wait. Seems pretty malicious to me.
     
  5. DaveyR

    DaveyR Retired Moderator
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    Well we are not taking a holiday this year due to setting up the new business here and our recent relocation but I would love to go back to the US next year.

    I have brought the subject up with Paul and to quote him "I haven't got a snowballs chance in hell of getting him back to the US". To my mind this is a great shame as we both love holidaying in the US.

    As I have previously been accused of generalising I should add that we have had some great experiences with Immigration officials too. LA, Florida and Las Vegas spring to mind.
     
  6. B_Stronzo

    B_Stronzo New Member

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    Oh no you dih'n't!!:eek: :biggrin1:

    Dave?

    First mistake? Going to Las Vegas
     
  7. Hatched69

    Hatched69 Member

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    Why not consider coming to the U.S from a different airport? Don't let the actions of one irreverent official prevent your enjoyment of the United States. Unfortunately you ran into an asshole who happens to work for the government.
     
  8. Wonderboy

    Wonderboy New Member

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    I'm not surprised. 'Only in America' makes more sense every day.
     
  9. DaveyR

    DaveyR Retired Moderator
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    After previous bad experiences entering through JFK and Philly this was the straw that broke the camel's back. Paul is the oposite of me in nature where I would stand and fight he would vote with his feet. His view is that he refuses to go spend his cash where he has been treated so badly. He is very unforgiving unlike me - I create a hurricane then I calm down and forget.
     
  10. B_Stronzo

    B_Stronzo New Member

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    Philadelphia, bar none, is the worst airport on the face of the globe through which I've ever had the misfortune to have to enter or leave this country. I was just there late last year and something(s) were taken - during the endless batteries of security scrutinies - from my carry-on.

    Fucking thieves.
     
  11. tygrrr

    tygrrr New Member

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    It sounds like a horrible experience, and certainly the behaior of that immigration officer was completely unprofessional. I'm not sure how I would have taken it if it had happened to me, I would sure have gotten furious, but in situations like that you of course want things to happen as smoothly as possible. At an airport is where you do NOT want any further delays, but I'm sure it could have been possible to make a complaint about her outrageous behavior, maybe not about her being rude, but that screaming and shouting of hers was way over the top.

    I have noticed a clear change in immigration officials post-9.11. I have travelled quite a lot to the US professionally and used to get a smile and a 'Welcome to America!', but not anymore. The last time I travelled to the US, I was there on a 6 month visa and my during my exchange with the immigration officer, also a woman, I felt like I was being interrogated. She kept a blank expression on her face all through it and when I smiled at her (I thought I'd at least give it a try) and said thank you when we were finished, she just barely nodded and looked away. It has struck me that they are actually intending to be intimidating for some reason - it seems to be the 'standard procedure' nowadays. - I've been rather put off by those experiences. I'll be curious to read what may come up in this thread.
     
  12. DaveyR

    DaveyR Retired Moderator
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    I am also interested to find out what experiences those from the US have had when travelling abroad. It could actually be a shift in behaviour at a more global level. It will be interesting to see.
     
  13. Hatched69

    Hatched69 Member

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    That's very unfortunate and sad to have bad experiences at more than 1 airport. If you ever do decide to return, try a more "inland" airport. It may be more expensive, but the last few international flights I've had have been pleasant into Indianapolis and Memphis.

    Stronzo - Is there a way for you to FedEx/UPS some of your stuff to your destination? I've done that in the past and had a whole lot less hassle, especially with security. Just send it out a few days earlier and it'll be there when you arrive. Most hotels will hold your belongings as long as you associate a room res. # with your package(s).
     
  14. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    The agent/inspector was way out of line, Dave. When one accompanies the handicapped, especially when a wheelchair is involved (even if it is one provided by the facility,) you are considered the 'companion,' and you deserve all the rights and considerations of the person you are accompanying.

    Family relationship has nothing to do with it.
     
  15. rob_just_rob

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    Speaking as someone with 2 professional certifications, I am offended by any implication that immigration officials are professionals. They're minimum-wage clods whose sole purpose appears to be to discourage travel. They certainly don't appear to be bound by any code of conduct or ethics, which apply to professions such as medicine, law, engineering, etc.

    She wasn't unprofessional, she was bigoted, rude, and callous, in that order.

    (OK, I wasn't deeply offended, but you get my drift, I hope)
     
  16. Hatched69

    Hatched69 Member

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    I understand, but to a "foreigner", a United States law enforcement official might appear to be a "professional". I don't think anyone would be stupid enough to tangle with them and risk jail time, regardless of the immigration official's IQ. Besides, that type of behavior is inexcusable regardless whether you're a "professional" McDonald's employee, or a "professional" athlete....
    I personally would have demanded an apology and to see that person's supervisor.
     
  17. DaveyR

    DaveyR Retired Moderator
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    That would have been my understanding too. It's easy to be clearer after the event but I find that I am not always thinking clearly and logically after a long flight and when faced with a strange airport at the end of it. Perhaps they "play" on that or am I affording them too much intelligence!
     
  18. DaveyR

    DaveyR Retired Moderator
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    I think you have something there hatched. The US exports numerous "Cop" programmes and not all portray your Cops in a friendly and approachable way. For someone who has not visited the US much these immigration officials do look like cops - similar uniform badge etc etc.
     
  19. Hatched69

    Hatched69 Member

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    Most of them actually are quite friendly when off duty. But the yahoos they employ at the airports DO actually have a fair bit of law enforcement power on their side. While most of them personally don't have much power, there's never a time that a police officer with the power necessary to make your life a living hell is far away...
     
  20. I hate the TSA ... and this only makes me dislike them more :mad:
     
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