US Immigration: Computer says No

I managed to fly directly into Raleigh-Durham yesterday. The flight arrived on time, I hadn’t checked any baggage, and I was feeling even more optimistic about getting to the hotel before the evening kicked off when I realised that most people on the plane were heading for the ‘US citizens’ channel. Hurrah, I thought, a short wait at immigration for once!
This was a mistake. For as I joined said queue, it was announced that the US wasn’t taking in any of us foreigners right now. The biometrics system had crashed (nationally, apparently), and without the ability to take our fingerprints for no particular purpose, well, they just couldn’t risk letting us loose in their fair nation. So if we could just stand there, while they dealt with all the real people US citizens first, then they might just get around to helping us.
I should note that as US immigration people go, everyone in NC was nice and friendly about it all (not to the extent that they’d let us make phone calls, or find us somewhere to sit while we waited, but they seemed pretty sympathetic), but I do wish that when, after an hour or so, it was announced that they’d decided to waive the need for biometrics, they hadn’t made it sound so much like they were doing us a favour.

Categories: bloggery, ranting

Comments (7)

  1. Silver Fox says:

    Customs can be a hassle, apparently especially in the U.S. these days. I’m glad you got through – you couldn’t use cell phones while waiting? That seems so weird.

  2. Joe Shelby says:

    No Cell Phones in the waiting areas of Customs and Immigration has been a rule that’s been in place in the States since even before 9/11.

  3. Richard Simons says:

    I remember when I was flying from Amsterdam to Vancouver, but as a result of a missed connection was rerouted through Seattle. At Seattle everyone (including US citizens who had reached their destination) had to go through the same security screening as we had at Amsterdam. No, I had no knives in my carry-on baggage, etc. I have no idea what they thought they were accomplishing by this. Then, of course, I had to go through it a third time for the shuttle flight from Seattle to Vancouver.
    By contrast, the first time I went from Britain to the continent I got off the boat and on to the train without finding the customs and immigration.

  4. “it was announced that they’d decided to waive the need for biometrics:
    You mean they ended up letting you godless furriners into the country without so much as a strip search? No wonder the US is a mess.

  5. BrianR says:

    ha … welcome to the U.S.!

  6. ReBecca says:

    Don’t worry, I know how you feel. I am not allowed into Canada for some reason. Every time I try to go there I am pulled to the side and searched (like bags emptied, car empties, fingerprinted, photographed, copies made of passports/drivers license, paperwork, ect…. I am something like 1/7 over the past 10 years. We even got searched going up there on our honeymoon. I wonder what I did get get red flagged by Canada.

  7. Lab Lemming says:

    You’d hope that they’d have the flexibility and initiative to get an ink pad and scan them in later…