The End of the Story
Okay, just came back from the US Consulate. Before I say what happened, I want to say a few other things related to this.
I’m shocked by the blogosphere’s, and the press’s, response. It blows my mind. This is once again a case of me simply having no idea that people would care. I was blogging because I had to tell somebody, and telling “Ensight” was as easy as telling anyone else.
Second, the company in question is not McGraw-Hill. It’s a major media company, well respected, etc. McGraw-Hill owns several major media companies, but is really a publisher.
I’m still not 100% sure what happened at Customs at the airport. Really, totally unsure. However at the very least I was denied entry and flagged for followup any other time I try to enter. As far as I can tell, I am not “banned” from entering. I’m not sure why the border guard said I was, threatened to throw me and jail and sieze my assets, etc.
I don’t know if any of what I experienced is even allowed by DHS (Department of Homeland Security). And I don’t even hold anything against DHS, Americans, etc. At the end of the day it’s this guy’s job to protect the border from, as he said, “ingrates and other seedy characters”.
There are quotes that stick out in my mind, like the “blogging ain’t a job” qoute that everyone’s bandying about. And there were threats. And there was lots of talk and many humiliating moments. There were also jaw-dropping ones like:
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
Me: No, really, I can talk from my computer to theirs
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)
Anyways, I’m not going to New York. The company basically needed someone there this week, and the only way to get a Visa is through a fairly standard 2 week process. Which I understand, and I’m not mad about, it just means I’m not going.
At the end of the day, I realize the US has to protect their borders. To me, in doing so, there are reasonable limits. If you suspect someone is smuggling drugs, a strip and cavity search is probably appropriate. After all, you can verify whether they are or aren’t. But if you suspect someone of lying to you about their occupation, are you really going to find the answer anywhere on their person? I mean, REALLY?
I guess I just feel that, given the circumstances, he knew immediately he wasn’t going to let me into the country in time for my flight. So, what was the other 2 hours about? If I’d been simply denied entry without all the other fluff and threats I would have turned around and gone home…
Garh, I’m rambling.
Anyways, I really appreciate everyone’s support. I’m doing much better today. Still a bit bent out of shape. But, as everyone who saw me yesterday will attest, I’m basically using humour to gloss that over. It’s been a big week. On Sunday I was living in Winnipeg. Today I’m vaguely stranded 4000 miles away. I’ll be heading up to my folks’ place tonight to spend a few days working on my book, and then I’ll be joining my family in the Toronto area.
I’m looking forward to visiting the US again at some point. I’m sure (almost, anyways) that next time won’t be as big of a hassle. It’ll probably be a hassle, but not a massive one. It’s not like I’m a terrorist or a hair dresser or anything.
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