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  • Site Meter

    Restrictions on Pakistani travel to US? (updated)


    by Sunny on 3rd May, 2007 at 2:42 pm    

    Several people have emailed me about this story, which first originated in the New York Times:

    American officials, citing the number of terror plots in Britain involving Britons with ties to Pakistan, expressed concern over the visa loophole. In recent months, the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, has opened talks with the government here on how to curb the access of British citizens of Pakistani origin to the United States.

    Among the options that have been put on the table, according to British officials, was the most onerous option to Britain, that of canceling the entire visa waiver program that allows all Britons entry to the United States without a visa. Another option, politically fraught as it is, would be to single out Britons of Pakistani origin, requiring them to make visa applications for the United States.

    Update: A reader has emailed me this article which says the NY Times story was inaccurate, and both the US dept and the Home Office have denied discussing such restrictions. It would have been a silly idea anyway. The problem of course may be that even if the official policy is of non-discrimination, in reality many Pakistanis travelling between the two countries often get singled out. Earlier this month I posted about Zak Shaikh who had been repeatedly harassed about going back to LA.



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    18 Comments   |   Add your own


    1. Anas — on 3rd May, 2007 at 3:28 pm  

      Wasn’t planning to go anytime soon, but…DAMN!

    2. sonia — on 3rd May, 2007 at 3:49 pm  

      oh don’t worry of course it won’t come into effect. there is no way that Britain is going to open itself up to what effectively would be ‘classes of citizenship’. think of the hoo ha.

    3. sonia — on 3rd May, 2007 at 3:50 pm  

      how does one even going about assessing who is of pakistani origin and who isn’t? not as easy as it ‘looks’..

    4. Jon Rosenberg — on 3rd May, 2007 at 5:07 pm  

      Who cares anyway?

      As an HIV positive man, it is totally illegal for me to enter the USA .. and I can’t really say that I feel particularly deprived of anything.

      Sure it is bigoted (especially considering it was an American visitor to the UK who infected me), but the way I look at it I’ll spend my money elsewhere.

    5. Rumbold — on 3rd May, 2007 at 5:37 pm  

      If they say “innit” or “safe” during questioning for a visa then they will be barred.

      In an example of joined-up US governmental thinking, the New Statesman reports that the US embassy is considering moving to the Borough of Hounslow:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/05/02/nembassy02.xml

    6. Jon Rosenberg — on 3rd May, 2007 at 7:23 pm  

      That’s cool. We can turn the old embassy into a mosque. That should piss all the right people off :)

    7. Sunny — on 3rd May, 2007 at 7:40 pm  

      As an HIV positive man, it is totally illegal for me to enter the USA

      Really? I didn’t know that. That’s a bit of an outrage isn’t it? So much for removing the stigma of being HIV positive.

      Rumbold - I chuckled when I heard that.

    8. Jon Rosenberg — on 3rd May, 2007 at 8:03 pm  

      “If you are planning to travel internationally, find out in advance if the country you are planning to travel to puts any restrictions on entry for people with HIV. There are no problems with EU countries, but many other countries ban people from HIV from entering. The USA is the most obvious example”

      “..people with HIV cannot legally enter the USA unless they obtain special permission from the US Embassy before travelling”

      http://www.aidsmap.com/en/docs/05C468C7-E542-412D-A895-88712DB1ABBB.asp

    9. Bijna — on 3rd May, 2007 at 8:36 pm  

      Suddenly its about Pakistanis instead of Asians.

      If some1 tries to blow up an aircraft its an Asian, but if some1 tries to be a passenger (and blow it up next week?) its a Pakistani.

    10. Vikrant — on 3rd May, 2007 at 8:39 pm  

      Among the options that have been put on the table, according to British officials, was the most onerous option to Britain, that of canceling the entire visa waiver program that allows all Britons entry to the United States without a visa.

      Since i plan to study in states…Darn… there goes my reason for getting a British passport! The visa procedure for Indian citizens is nothing short of personal humiliation. They check up your bank accounts, property and stuff. Its doesnt help that my passport sports a KSA visa and i have a Muslim origin last name. Funnily very few Muslim students are granted F1 visa!

    11. sonia — on 3rd May, 2007 at 11:46 pm  

      “Since i plan to study in states…Darn… there goes my reason for getting a British passport”

      Hmm Vikrant - even if you are British, the visa free thing only applied to the 90 days or less. if you are british and you want to study in the states for presumably longer than 90 days - you have to apply for the F-1 student visa like everyone else..

    12. lithcol — on 4th May, 2007 at 12:05 am  

      My sons girlfriend is American. He pops over when he can. Last time he was taken aside by immigration ( something popped up on the computer ) and introduced to some tough looking bastards. Several gruelling hours later, following interminable questions and a number of phone calls, he was allowed to enter the USA. He is white ( with what is called a sallow complexion ), long haired and has a beard. Hey they mutter, he could be a convert!

      The strange thing is at the time he was applying to become a US citizen and is due to be married in June. He is a civil engineer and has made numerous trips to the middle east on various projects. He thinks that somehow this is now part of a profile on their security computers. Sinister.

      What if he had had business in Pakistan?

      Yes there have been denials that selective denial of automatic visa waver will not happen, but you can bet your bottom dollar that a number of people of Pakistani origin will get no further than the arrival area. If indeed they can get on the plane in the first place. Doesn’t matter if you are, as is likely, completely innocent of anything. If you are on the computer as a potential risk that’s it. No appeal.

    13. jamal — on 4th May, 2007 at 3:54 am  

      Obviously those pakistani visitors/descendants committing terror cause this, but it is also articles like that below that cause this to occur.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6613963.stm

      When words like pakistan, al qaeda and jihadist are linked in one article, then that is quite vilifying for all due to the many that will then stereotype an entire religion, nation, and their descendants based upon it.

      Media should seek to change perceptions as well as we as a people should encourage any terrorist aspirations to cease in those we know, as if not, then we as Britons may as well forget visiting our relatives and get used to holidays in Blackpool.

    14. pommygranate — on 4th May, 2007 at 6:14 am  

      jamal

      When words like pakistan, al qaeda and jihadist are linked in one article, then that is quite vilifying for all

      yes, it is. and denying flying rights to people due to their country of origin runs contra to all the liberal values of this country. i hope it never happens.

      There is a link, though, between AQ, Pakistan and the UK. Read a fascinating article in this month’s Foreign Affairs about the re-emergence of AQ in their new base in Waziristan in northwest Pakistan and the establishment of the UK as their main hub of operations in the West (this is no neocon publication before you jump to conclusions). It’s a long article but its the most informative piece you will read on AQ.

      Al Qaeda’s relocation to Pakistan has also provided new opportunities for the group to expand its reach in the West, especially the United Kingdom. Thanks to connections to the Pakistani diaspora, visitors from Pakistan have relatively easy access to the Pakistani community in the United Kingdom, and Pakistani-born Britons can readily travel to Pakistan and back — facilitating recruitment, training, and communications for jihadists. (By one estimate, Pakistan received 400,000 visits from British residents in 2004.) The large communities of immigrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh living in the United Kingdom — and some disaffected Muslim British citizens — have become targets for recruitment. With entry into the United States made more difficult because of U.S. homeland security measures, the United Kingdom has become a focal point of al Qaeda’s activities in the West.

    15. StrangelyPsychedelique/Kesara — on 4th May, 2007 at 9:38 am  

      The British Govt. fingerprints Sri Lankans as opposed to folks from say India or other nations that require a visa. Its not even under the pretext of stopping terrorism…more like ‘watch the legal immigrant before they turn illegal - which they might ‘cos they’re filthy lankans!’

      I laugh every time theres an uproar about US immigration tactics in the UK…(and don’t get me started on the French…)

    16. Robert — on 4th May, 2007 at 11:04 am  

      What I find slightly odd about these sort of proposals, is how unaware of history the policy-makers seem to be. The USA got their fingers burnt over the incarceration of US Citizens of Japanese heritage during WWII, and have spent the last generation apologising and compensating someone for it.

    17. Chris Stiles — on 4th May, 2007 at 11:35 am  

      ‘watch the legal immigrant before they turn illegal - which they might ‘cos they’re filthy lankans!’

      Just how much of a problem is the first part of the sentence?

    18. Kulvinder — on 4th May, 2007 at 1:27 pm  

      Depending on the level of statism you personally accept, quite a bit of a problem. I’d give anyone entering the UK the same freedoms as any other Briton. I don’t presume foreign people are just waiting to break the law and hence should be put under tighter scrutiny.

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