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  1. #1
    Senior Membrane spirilis's Avatar
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    Default British writer's experience at LAX

    Weekend feature: American homeland security | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

    Rather shocking article I found off digg.com. A British writer flew to Los Angeles to perform a freelance assignment for The Guardian (newspaper), but did not have a "journalist's visa." Evidently this is a lesser-known requirement for foreigners travelling to the USA--if you're coming here to do any form of journalism, you need to apply for a journalist's visa, the typical 90-day "visa waiver program" does not apply.

    The story left me rather disgusted with the state of our border security, not that it's the first time I'd heard about it.

    PS- The article is a bit old, written in 2004. Hopefully things have shaped up since then? (Yeah right)

  2. #2
    Guerilla Urbanist Brendan's Avatar
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    Just by the title I know that my politically correct response is: Seriously, I'm so sorry about my country and its more asinine policies.
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  3. #3
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    I don't quite know how to react to this. On one hand, I can see how security and following rules is important, but I don't believe that it was fair for them to place this person in such an uncomfortable position either. I think that if they had a rule about Journalists needing a special visa, they should have announced that requirement more openly rather than deporting confused reporters.

  4. #4
    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
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    I'm not sure why journalism should be singled out as a profession requiring a separate visa. I guess I see the reasons why journalism could present a threat to a country's image, but surely not to their security? It's definitely the sort of thing I would expect more from communist countries.

    This was the interesting paragraph for me:

    Though my experience was far removed from the images of real torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, it was also, as one American friend put it, "conceptually related", at distant ends of the same continuum and dictated by a disregard for the humanity of those deemed "in the wrong". American bloggers and journalists would later see my experience as reflecting the current malaise in the country. Dennis Roddy wrote in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Our enemies are now more important to us than our friends ... Much of the obsession with homeland security seems to turn on the idea of the world infecting the US."

  5. #5
    Senior Member Langrenus's Avatar
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    I love the Guardian as a newspaper. However, they have hosted a number of 'personal experience' type pieces that have been factually deficient (to put it lightly) over the past few years, in keeping with most newspapers. As a result I always treat these features with more than a liberal helping of salt.

    (Surprisingly) journalists are not neutral observers of the world around them.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
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    Nonetheless, America remains the only country I've ever encountered groundlessly hostile customs officials, and I've travelled quite a bit. The customs officials were friendlier in Burma even. And Australia is supposed to enjoy friendly relations with America.

  7. #7
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    The American Customs people are rather unfriendly, but they vary. Canadian ones are also a mixed bag - last time I got a really nice one, and the time before I got a string of ones that were meaner than average American ones, until I ended up with a rather funny/friendly one that finally let me in.

    I can see the reason for the subject from the OP, though - they were working in this country. It's no different from requiring a work visa for any other profession or labor.
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    Disclaimer: The above is my opinion and mine alone, it does not mean I cannot change my mind, nor does it guarantee that my comments are related to any deep-seated convictions. Take everything I say with a whole snowplow worth of salt and call me in the morning, if you can.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf View Post
    I can see the reason for the subject from the OP, though - they were working in this country. It's no different from requiring a work visa for any other profession or labor.
    They aren't working in the country. The reason for the problem was that she "represented foreign media". Journalists do not use working visa's (they must enter under the I visa class). And just to be clear where this law came from, it was meant to facilitate easy access to the US for reporters... now used for the exactly the opposite. That's the main problem - it was previously never an obligation to have one of these... for about 50 years, under the same law.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Langrenus's Avatar
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    Yet the article itself states that

    It is unheard of in open societies, and, in spite of now being enforced in the US, is still so obscure that most journalists are not familiar with it. Thirteen foreign journalists were detained and deported from the US last year, 12 of them from LAX.
    Ehm, what? First a statement with no supporting facts ("is still so obscure that most journalists are not familiar with it") and then some apparently contradictory facts (I'm guessing that 13 journalists do not represent even 1% of the total number that entered the US last year.).

    Isn't it possible that Elena just feels like an idiot for signing a declaration without reading it, and failing to apply for the correct visa? The treatment does sound heavy-handed, but then we only have one point of view.
    January has April's showers
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