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Sun Feb 7, 2021, 01:39 AM

Trump's xenophobia effects, large and small

Trump's patented xenophobia was no secret, nor was his penchant for following wannabe SS Officer Steven Miller's anti-immigrant hot flashes. But I just got a glimpse at how far down the pecking order that attitude has gone and is affecting routine government functions.

A little over 5 years ago TSA began offering the "Pre-Check" program, which meant that upon completing an application, having a personal interview with TSA and paying an $85 fee you could get a Pre-Check number which would permit you to skip some of the more burdensome requirements in the Security Line at the airport. Since my wife and I travel extensively both for business and pleasure we decided to apply for it. It has proven to be worth every dime.

Fast forward to now. We both received e-mails informing us that the original 5-year period for our Pre-Check status would soon expire, inviting us to renew for another 5 years. I completed a very short application. Since my application and my wifes' were different by a few days I sent mine in first. It was approved within a day.

I now went to renew my wife's status . She was born overseas but has been a U.S. citizen since 1988 and, like me has travelled extensively on her US Passport. Neither of us have ever had any kind of issue with TSA (or for that matter with anyone else). I began her renewal process expecting it to be identical to mine. Not so. For her to renew she is first expected to complete an extremely detailed application (almost identical to that required for applying for a first time US passport) and then must go with both US Passport and State Drivers License in hand for a personal interview with the TSA to see if they'll grant her renewal. No explanation is given for the difference between her renewal and mine nor is there any possibility of getting an explanation much less seeking an exception. The only difference between her renewal application and mine is because she was born somewhere else.

The Trump acolytes have managed to insert pure xenophobic hurdles into some of the most mundane interactions with the Federal government. It's sickening to see how our system has been infected with this virulence. God only knows in how many other routine activities anyone not born here will be expected to jump though meaningless and degrading hoops.

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Reply Trump's xenophobia effects, large and small (Original post)
COLGATE4 Feb 2021 OP
SleeplessinSoCal Feb 2021 #1
COLGATE4 Feb 2021 #4
SleeplessinSoCal Feb 2021 #6
smirkymonkey Feb 2021 #2
COLGATE4 Feb 2021 #5
DFW Feb 2021 #3

Response to COLGATE4 (Original post)

Sun Feb 7, 2021, 04:40 AM

1. Passing the torch to Emma...



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Response to SleeplessinSoCal (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 7, 2021, 10:27 AM

4. There was a time in this country when those words

meant something. Trump did his best to erase them. Hopefully Joe can at least begin to straighten things out again.

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #4)

Sun Feb 7, 2021, 03:46 PM

6. We can begin again on July 4th

Remember when "It" tried stealing Independence Day to use as a backdrop for his MAGA minded mad men and gals?

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/03/politics/donald-trump-fourth-of-july-details/index.html

Just a well crafted speech reminding people of our past sacrifices and what we owe the country. The New Colossus could accompany that celebration.

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Response to COLGATE4 (Original post)

Sun Feb 7, 2021, 05:08 AM

2. I am sorry for your wife's difficulties.

It is so unfair. I hate what he has done to this country.

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Response to smirkymonkey (Reply #2)

Sun Feb 7, 2021, 10:29 AM

5. Thanks. It's not a big deal in the overall scheme of

things and I realize many people have far graver issues with TSA (or CBP of whatever they're calling themselves this week). But I found it beyond irritating to see how a person with a squeaky clean life and record can be made to jump though totally unnecessary hoops just because they had the temerity to be born somewhere other than the U.S.

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Response to COLGATE4 (Original post)

Sun Feb 7, 2021, 07:27 AM

3. My wife has been made to jump through some of those hoops.

She is a German citizen. She has never applied for US citizenship or residence, and never intends to. When she visits the USA, she is there as a visitor, period.

She has been harassed, mostly by stupidity, at three different border entries into the USA in recent years.

Once in northern Vermont, she went with a girlfriend across the border for lunch in Canada. Upon returning, the CBP guy checked her passport, and asked when she was returning to Germany. She told him, and he went nuts, saying that she would have overstayed her allowed 90 days by a day. This was ridiculous, as she had only been in the country for five weeks. The CBP agent started pointing to an entry stamp from nearly 3 months earlier, when we were in DC for a week for a graduation, but he couldn't find the more recent entry stamp. Not wanting to call him the idiot he was, my wife wisely took the meek route, and said, of, "how stupid of me, you are quite right. I forgot that the flights from North America to Germany are overnight flights. I gave you the date I arrive home, but the flight leaves the day before. I am so sorry for the confusion, etc etc." The guy was happy with this and let her back into Vermont. The jerk was too lazy to look for her more recent entry stamp, even though she told him the date.

Then, in Atlanta, we came to the CBP area at Hartsfield Airport, on our way to South Carolina. The office, himself an immigrant, said her fingerprints didn't match. We assured him that she had not switched fingers since the last time she had been in the USA. He insisted they weren't the same, and led us to a detention area, where we had to wait an hour to be called. Finally her name was called, and we went before a panel of three (presumably) higher-ranking supervisors. They looked at her passport and asked what the problem was. We said the first CBP office claimed her fingerprints didn't match. They rolled their eyes and said we were good to go.

Then, last summer, in Boston's Logan Airport, she was traveling on a renewed ESTA number, and there was a special line for that. The CBP guy there said she would have to wait, and someone would come to take her to Group W, or whatever this special review board was called. He took us (I wasn't going to leave her with these clowns, no way) to some special office, where six or seven very bored CBP officers were all standing behind plexiglass barriers. We were told to go to one of them. He took her passport and told us to sit down. We sat down. After maybe five minutes of clickety-clacking on his computer keyboard, he asked us to come up. We did. He asked us the usual customs questions (over $10,000 in cash, any plants, any animal products, are you now, or have you ever been deceased, etc. etc.), and then told us to sit down again. Ten minutes and a lot more computer clickety-clacking after that, I heard the familiar--and now very welcome--kaCHUNK of a passport (hers) being stamped, and we were good to go.

Europe is not much better, mind you. Bureaucrats will be bureaucrats, and the less they have to do, the meaner they are. I know most of the customs guys at the Düsseldorf airport, but a couple of years ago, I came in from Atlanta, and got stopped by a customs guy I didn't know. He asked me, in English, "what is the purpose of your visit to Germany?"
I answered in English, "I have a very good purpose. I live here."
He got all huffy and said (still in English), "If you live in Germany, you must speak German!"
I said, "I DO speak German."
He then switched to German and said, "well why didn't you speak German from the beginning?"
I answered, now also in German, "YOU were the one who started speaking English. I'm not going to give you orders as to what language you want to speak."
This stopped him for a moment, but he wasn't about to give up that easily. "Are you carrying any cash on you?"
I pulled out the few hundred mixed euros and dollars I had in my pocket, and said, "of course I'm carrying cash on me. Your taxi drivers don't make trips for free."
He finally gave up and told me to get lost.

In the USA, the agency at the airports and border crossings is now called CBP, or "Customs and Border Protection." If THAT'S protection, I think they (or, maybe, we) are in need of some serious backup.

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