02 December, 2005

Bloggers Beware

An Iranian-Canadian blogger was turned away from the U.S. border because of suspicions raised by his blog. Note that the suspicions were not necessarily political - he was apparently suspected (on fairly weak grounds) mainly of overstaying his visa - however, the border guards' suspicions were heightened because he was of Iranian descent, wrote about Iran, and had recently returned to Iran. "It was obvious the guy was trying to find an excuse not to let me in, and he found something," said the blogger after guards Googled him and read his blog.

5 comments:

John B. Chilton said...

He's Canadian, he was carrying a magazine addressed to him in NY, NY, and he wrote in his blog that he lives in NY,NY. ("Derakhshan did, in fact, write that he was based out of New York—mostly because it sounded "sexier" than saying he was based out of Toronto, he said.")

Sorry, Charlie, that's good enough for me for the US border patrol to use its discretion at the border and refuse you entry. I'm glad they're googling names when they smell something fishy.

In other news, the US is no longer searching airport bags for scissors, and giving immigration control more discretion.

Toronto is pretty sexy, by the way.

BD said...

I disagree. The US border control ought to be concerned with issues of drug trafficing and terrorism, not with someone using a fake address, especially if it's a fact that Canadians can reside freely in the US for up to 6 months even without passports. Six months is long enough to start receiving mail in your name. The whole incident, small as it may be, is just another example of US policies' chilling effect on personal liberties. I repeat, the activities of this guy as I read it or in no way a national security threat.

Slagothor said...

bd:

I disagree with you. Speaking as a Canadian who has lived in the US and travelled there on non-business reasons a lot, I can tell you that Canadians can have an uninterrupted stay of 90 days before applying for some sort of residency visa. Secondly, your statement of what the US Border Patrol "ought to be" concerned with is irrelevant. Furthermore, crossing borders is not an issue of "personal liberty". Pretty much ever country in the world sees entry of foreign nationals as a *privelige*, not an obligation, and every country reserves the right to refuse entry based on whatever criteria they want.

Let me add that you're only hearing one side of the story. My first hand experience is that border guards only take spoecial interest in a person if they appear to be dishonest or evasive in their answers. I'm sure this guy did more to arouse suspicion than simply "being Iranian". I'll add they his assertion that "they were looking for a reason to exclude me" is wrong: border guards do not need a reason. If they do not want to admit somebody, they can simply say no, and there is no right of appeal. No justification is required.

BD said...

When I speak of what border agents "ought to" be doing I'm speaking as a citizen. Ultimately the government serves the interest of the people who elect it. Of course I don't know the ins and outs of what really happened in that case. But I would not want the country's agents to be over-zealous to the point of excluding people who mean or imply no harm to the country. In post 911 America there is the tendency of officials to over-react and this just seems like another one of those instances. As much as possible the US ought to remain an open country with relatively open borders, as it has historically come to be admired for. As a citizen this is the kind of country I'd like to have rather than one that zealously "protects" its borders.

CG said...

I think his blog is a little bit fishy anyway. I read the part where he was heading home and requesting funds...then he went into great detail about what might happen to him there and how he was anticipating an arrest blah blah. He knows he has written some stuff that may not go down too well with the Authorities, and I can honestly say that I think he overlooked the American authorities.
It seems to me that now he has his Canadian passport he is getting a little bit too big for his not so long ago Iranian boots. I truly believe that you are from where you came from, and a passport is merely a travel document and nationality gives you the right of abode. But authorities will always look at where you originate from and unfortunately you have to keep a fairly low profile when you come from a country that has some rather big issues with the country that you are moving about in.

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