Friday, August 12, 2005


American Injustice

Armavirumque told a story of a friend of his run in with the DHS:

The guy is a coral reef ecologist, a native New Zealander who now lives and works in the states on a work visa. His frequent air-travel to coral reef biodiversity hotspots like Indonesia, Malaysia, etc., set off a red flag somewhere because some of the places are also hotbeds of radical Muslim extremism.

As far as that goes, I don't have an issue with it - an individuals travel patterns look suspicious to an outside observer and deserve closer scrutiny. But instead of contacting the guy and asking him to explain his travel ("I'm a Ph.D. biologist in reef ecology, and if you look at an effin' map you'll notice THAT'S WHERE THE REEFS ARE!"), they revoked his visa and contacted the university he works fot to tell them that if they continue to employ him they are violating homeland security. He was given 30 days to leave the country of be deported (he owns a house and has a wife and two young children). It was only after several weeks of exhaustive legal intervention on his behalf that the issue was finally resolved, but the classes he was scheduled to teach that semester had to be cancelled and he did lose the months wages until he could be officially rehired.

I guess you could call that a hassle and shrug and chalk it up to some people slipping through the cracks, but the system sure doesn't seem to work very well.

I responded that I thought that this was a hassle. I am dealing with the DHS in regards to my wife's visa and my mother has been sponsoring young Dominicans trips to the US for education and, in one case, surgery and I know she does not have a very high opinion of the bureaucracy. That being said, is it expecting to much for an agency to check out everyone's story? I think the idea is that people who visit the US have a responsibility to show that they are here for good purposes. It saves resources to put the onus on the alien.

Bookworm relays a more serious violation of rights that has my blood boiling:

The latest insanity in the war on drugs comes to you from Georgia. As The New York Times reported last week, the feds arrested 49 convenience store clerks and owners — essentially for selling legal cold and allergy pills.

'Operation Meth Merchant' is the government's way of making store clerks act as drug-enforcement agents — or if they don't, they could face jail time. The feds enticed informers to tell the clerks they were buying cold pills or other products so they could 'cook up' methamphetamines. That would make the store clerks guilty of a crime, if they knowingly sold to would-be meth-makers.

Most of the defendants are Indian immigrants who don't understand English particularly well — and certainly don't know American slang. They're not drug dealers. They're working stiffs — yet they face sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

Wow, besides the injustice of it all what a stupid waste of resources. So AVQ, what is the lesson we learned today? Ph.D biologists and store clerks both get abused by bureaucracy run amok but the DHS bureaucracy hasn't been around long enough to piss me off.


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