I was going to New Orleans to write a story. I landed in Atlanta, coming from Italy.
At the immigration the officer asked as usual: «What's the purpose of your visit to the States?». As usual, I answered: «I'm an Italian journalist. I'm getting in to write a story about software».
He didn't like it. I passed through an incredible cross examination. And then I was sent back to Italy, my fingerprints having been taken and stored in their database.
Walking to the plane I asked the officer: «How long have you been doing this job?». He said: «Too much. I want to quit. We are inconsistent. You tell the truth and you are sent back. Those that lye to us, we let them in».
Back in Italy, the police came to take me, as I was a rejected one. They asked me what had happened. They understood immediately. And protested: «This is happening too often. There is no reciprocity».
A couple of days later an Ap article came out:
Associated Press May 21, 2004 10:36 p.m.
WASHINGTON -- Foreign journalists will be given a one-time break and allowed to enter the U.S. even if they have the wrong visa, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner said Friday.
To gain entry, foreign journalists are required to have an "I" visa that applies to working journalists. But some arrive with "B-1" business visas, officials said.
"It's a common mistake," CBP spokesman Bill Anthony said.
Now top customs officials, known in customs parlance as port directors, will have the discretion to give a one-time break to a foreign journalist who is seeking to enter the country with the wrong visa.
That foreign journalist, however, would need to have the correct visa on the next visit, officials said.
"We realize there is a difference between fraud and failure to be informed of the legal requirements for entering the U.S.," Mr. Bonner said. "That is why we are giving our port directors leeway when it comes to allowing journalists to enter the U.S. who are clearly no threat to our security."
But I still don't understand:
Why should journalists have to get a visa just because they are journalists?
--- please visit my Italian site at: http://www.debiase.com ---