I love the United States. The country is full of grand vistas and great people.
And even though lots of Canadians complain about the tough process of getting across the border these days, I’ve never had a problem.
More often than not, I find the folks working the conveyor belts and waving me through the metal detector professional and often personable. Yes, getting through customs is a longer process and the lines are often peppered with panicked people anxious that they’re going to miss their flights, but what can you do? Get there early. Take a deep breath. Leave your liquids behind.
But with today’s news from ABC that “citizens from countries in the VWP [Visa Waiver Program], which allows travelers from certain countries to enter the United States without a visa, will be required to submit their travel plans and personal information before their day of travel,” I’m not so sure I’ll be visiting nearly as much after the requirement comes into effect next January.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing to hide. But the thought of logging my passport number into a computerized system 72 hours before I’m set to go, to wait as my name is checked against a terror watch list, raises visions of all those zombie-like automatons wandering around that fictitious world of George Orwell’s. According to the article, the Europeans are balking, too, with concerns about what will happen to the collected information and how long it will be held.
And there are other questions, as well. Who is on that list? What is the definition of a ‘terrorist’? Does someone attending a hunger strike outside the U.S. consulate to protest American military policies end up on that list? Stranger things have happened.