Capn's Blog

Monday, April 16, 2007

Immigration nitwits

Here's a story of one man's experience with US immigration:

I have my own true story.

I went to the US in 1998, about a month before my eldest son was born. Last taste of freedom, etc etc. Went through immigration in L.A. I had a long list of LA backpacker hostels to stay in, but I didn't have any kind of reservation or definite plan.

The immigration form asked for my place of residence. I left it blank. I asked the immigration "person". He said, "That's where you'll stay tonight. Unless you write an address in that space, I can't let you in". I said "but even though I have a long list of places to stay, and will stay at one of them, I don't have one preorganised". He said "then I can't let you in". I looked at him. He looked at me. An ├Žon lasting several seconds passed. Then he rolled his eyes, sighed, grabbed the form and wrote "1600 Spring St, Downtown" on it. I asked him what it was. He said "I think it's City Hall". I said, "Local government offices? I have no plan to go there, and even if I did, how can you live at City Hall?"

He said, "You want in, you have to sign here". I said, "I can't sign that, I'd be making a false declaration, you'd know it was a false declaration, then you really could kick me out". He said "I can anyway, and if you don't sign it, that's what I'm doing to do".

He looked at me. I looked at him. The crowd behind grew longer. Well, I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't, so I might as well sign it. And I did. After all, I was following the direct instruction of a US immigration official, one who himself wrote a fake address on my form.

What is it about US immigration? Is it really the worst in the world?