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A UK resident and seasoned world traveller, Mr M N Khan, describes an unwelcome delay:

“Last month, we checked-in at the ‘Special Assistance Desk’ of the American Airlines at London’s Heathrow airport, perched in a wheelchair, to take a flight to Dallas. We were asked at the desk where and why we were going. Furthermore, where we were going to stay and who will be coming to receive me at Dallas airport. Airlines staff never asked their passengers going to the US such intrusive questions in the past.

When I arrived at Dallas international airport I went over to the immigration control on a wheelchair. I was whisked into the back-office of the immigration control and was detained. My appearance – old age and sitting in a wheelchair didn’t matter but my name did. Sitting uncomfortably for an unreasonably long time and getting impatient in the back-office I took courage and politely requested one of the immigration officers to expedite my case. The immigration officer explained to me that my case was forwarded to the authority at Washington, D.C. for verification and clearance. I was given to understand why my case was referred to was simply because my name was rather common. I was detained until my clearance came from Washington, D.C. After a long haul from London to Dallas in 10 hours and annoying detention at the airport for 2 hours I was allowed to go without an apology.

I have been visiting the US many times, on British passport, since 1979 but I have had never experienced such an indignity on arriving at any US airports. My experience left me feeling sad more than angry that it happened in the US. What was called the ‘Land of Free’ the US now appears to look like a police state. There is fear from fear. The treatment as demonstrated towards me by the immigration authorities at Dallas airport gave me the impression that the mat of welcome in America has been rolled up for foreigners visiting the country. Foreigners beware!

. . . The No Fly List is a list created and maintained by the US federal government and has also been used to divert aircraft away from the US airspace. The number of people on the list has risen from 10,000 in 2011 to a higher number . . .  No one in public knows who is on the list and why?

. . .The US was founded on the idea that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” That’s in the Declaration of Independence. But when government officials conceal information from the public or defy the will of the voters, they can’t claim to have the consent of the governed. They’re not exercising “just powers.”  They’re exercising raw power. This indeed is an existential challenge to American liberty and freedom.”

M N Khan

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