United States 2007, or Soviet Union 1977?
This story will lead you to despair. Read the whole thing. It is the harrowing tale of a young woman from Iceland, one of the most friendly and laid back countries in the world, who came with some friends for a pre-Christmas shopping trip to New York. It turned out that she had overstayed a visa by 3 weeks in 1995. For her crime, she was arrested, shackled, verbally abused, jailed, denied the use of her phone, subject to degrading personal questions, denied the chance to sleep, and kept without food and water for 14 hours. Before being deported, she was frog-marched through the airport in handcuff and leg-chains, which were not released until she was on the Icelandair flight. She described her tormentors aptly as “small kings with megalomania”. Welcome to the new America.
This is no longer an unusual occurrence. I know personally of similar cases. I know people who have left this country for these reasons. And I know people who grew up under the Soviet yoke, who are dismayed to see echoes of their childhood in twenty-first century America. Is this treatment any surprise, though, when the Bush administration has argued in court that non-citizens who show up at the border have no rights beyond a protection against “gross physical abuse”?
(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan.)