Friday, May 17, 2002

Dr Frank talks about all the wonderful questions his wife was asked on an immigration form by the American INS. (Were you involved in the Nazi government of Germany or Austria, are you a communist, is the purpose of your visit to commit an immoral act? Do you intend to work as a prostitute? That kind of thing). Silly as they sound, these are standard questions that any alien who wishes to visit the US has to answer when applying for any kind of visa. My experiences of entering the US have involved answering these silly questions and then being quite genuinely welcomed to the US by remarkably friendly immigration officials. Entering most other countries I have visited has involved filling out forms with much less information (if any) and then having officials be gratuitously rude to me. I can forgive the Americans the form. (An Austrian once recounted to me his story of being asked the "Are you a Nazi?" question and was quite surprised to discover that I had been asked it too: he had assumed it was just for Austrians and Germans).

A lawyer once told me that these questions were asked because it was easy to have someone deported for making a false declaration, whereas it was quite hard to have someone deported for some of the actions asked about on the form (eg prostitution).

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