|by Erik Torkells||Questions and Opinions, Safety and Security||587|
If you've ever stood in line at U.S. Immigration and wondered if the agents feel a bit too comfortable in their power--I know I have--then you should absolutely read this story in today's New York Times. (Actually, it's even more imperative that you read it if you don't think immigration agents are abusing their power.) To sum it up, an Italian man flew to Dulles airport outside D.C. to visit his American girlfriend. He ended up being detained in jail for 10 days for no apparent reason. (Agents claimed he asked for asylum; as the man's girlfriend says, "Who on earth would seek asylum from Italy?")
Whether or not this is truly an isolated incident remains to be seen. But even if it is, the federal government must set up some kind of basic protection for travelers visiting the U.S. (because they have no rights at all). At a bare minimum, they must have the right—if refused entry—to communicate with whomever they choose (an embassy, family, the person they're visiting), and they must be given some sort of due process, including an explanation of why they're being held. What's more, U.S. immigration should have to regularly publish (daily? weekly?) a list of who's being detained and for how long.