Friday, March 31, 2006

Home of the brave?

It may be the land of the free, but it certainly isn't free to enter. Perhaps because of its perceived desirability to immigrants, who think the country will provide a better standard of living than anywhere else, the entry requirements to the USA are (dare I say it?) ludicrously onerous. I've heard stories of people being deported as soon as they arrived in the States because of previously overstaying their visa. Of course there was the story about Yusuf Islam and moderate Muslim clerics being refused entry - presumably on the grounds that they were Muslims. I'm sure that the difficulty of actually getting into America serves only to discommode the law-abiding majority of visitors, and does not dissuade those few who have more felonious or murderous intentions.

This post was sparked, however, by news that the venerable British orchestra, the Halle, had been
forced to cancel a proposed tour of America because of excessive red tape. To obtain work permits for all 100 people would have cost the orchestra £45,000. And this is on top of the cost of touring itself. Then all these people would have had to travel to London from Manchester to fill out forms and submit photographs to the US embassy, presumably to prove they weren't potential terrorists.

Before the First World War, British people didn't even need a passport to travel abroad. Soon we will have to have identity cards (or, as Jack Dee called them, identity crisis cards), with details of our biometric data (which will soon be required for entry to the USA), all to prove that we are sane, law-abiding people with no interest in blowing up the United States. Or anywhere else, for that matter. All hail to the European Union, then: which doesn't seem quite so bad now, does it?


At Fri Mar 31, 07:04:00 pm, Blogger Who is this Dave? said...

Although a nice thing about travelling outside the EU is that one does get interesting stamps on one's passport, to prove you've been abroad.

At Sat Apr 01, 01:02:00 am, Blogger galatea said...

And of course duty free.

(sorry, is that lowering the tone?)

At Mon Apr 03, 05:22:00 pm, Blogger Tamburlaine said...

My passport has a yellow fever vaccination certificate stapled into it and a couple of visas left over from a trip to West Africa in 2004 (swanking a bit, sorry). And Egyptian stamps to show that I've paid £10 (or $15) in hard currency to enter the country.

I'm very sad when it comes to duty free. Perfume is about the only thing I buy. Mind you, the alcohol selection at Cairo airport is fairly minimal.

At Mon Apr 03, 08:12:00 pm, Blogger Who is this Dave? said...

I was in Egypt (twice) in 2004, got the entry/exit stamps but didn't have to pay any baksheesh.

Mind you, I was in the south, not Cairo.


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