Europeans to pay $14-non-VISA to enter U.S.A.

Actually, as any non-citizen going to the United States of America knows, getting into the country can be something of a pain even if your documents are in order. The difficulties increase exponentially with your “ostensible propensity” for drugs or terrorism. There are even indignities in crossing the U.S.-Canada border, where you will be woken and shuffled off your night bus to have ever-serious customs officers suspiciously eye your passport, then wait for a bit, then shuffle back onto the bus.

Alas, Americans have to pretend to “secure our borders,” all 7,500 miles of them (two thirds with Canada), whatever that means. See Customs and Border Protection’s absurd and militaristic Mission Statement. It’s actually more of a poem on how “under siege” America is: “We are the guardians of America’s borders. We are America’s frontline…”

But as Jean Quatremer writes, when the State Department installed the “Electronic System for Travel Authorizaton” (ESTA) for countries who don’t need a VISA to visit the US, it was more than an inconvenience. Basically an online version of the usual form to enter to the US, $14 will also be charged for ESTA applicants, $4 for “administrative costs” and $10 for a so-called “authorization charge”. Naturally this looks suspiciously like a hidden VISA that will now be applied to Europeans, Japanese, New Zealanders and others who don’t need a normal VISA to visit the United States.

Swedish European Commissioner for Internal Affairs Cécilia Malmström will study the ESTA and may propose counter-measures early next year.

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One Response to Europeans to pay $14-non-VISA to enter U.S.A.

  1. marknesop says:

    I hate having to fly through the USA precisely because of this, and take great pains to schedule my flights so I don’t have to stop at an American airport – especially LAX, which is the seventh circle of airport hell. Customs agents routinely convey the impression that they believe you’re lying in response to all their questions. I used to have to go through LAX regularly, going to and returning from Russia, because it’s the main West Coast hub, but now I pay extra to fly direct so I can avoid it.

    Security concerns are the prime mover, however, behind stealthy creep in forcing electronic identification on everyone. I just got my new British Columbia driver’s license, and it’s changed radically from the old one. The literature announces that it includes all kinds of new “anti-identity-theft” features while exhorting me to be sure I carry it on my person at all times, but it sure looks like it has a chip in it to me, or some other readable electronic tag. The push for a “Smart” or “Enhanced” driver’s license here that would wonderfully ease travel to the USA was a resounding failure last year, but the government would love a national ID Card. A public that doesn’t know what it is would be a lot more likely to accept it. That’s until it’s realized that all the government needs do to stop you from traveling is take it from you.

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