Monday, September 17, 2007

"They told me I had no rights"

The slightly bizarre case of a musicologist whose residency visa was suddenly revoked without explanation caught my eye.

Ms. Ghuman’s descent into the bureaucratic netherworld began on Aug. 8, 2006, when she and Mr. Flight returned to San Francisco from a research trip to Britain. Armed immigration officers met them at the airplane door and escorted Ms. Ghuman away.

In a written account of the next eight hours that she prepared for her lawyer, Ms. Ghuman said that officers tore up her H-1B visa, which was valid through May 2008, defaced her British passport, and seemed suspicious of everything from her music cassettes to the fact that she had listed Welsh as a language she speaks. A redacted government report about the episode obtained by her lawyer under the Freedom of Information Act erroneously described her as “Hispanic.”


And Ms. Ghuman said her demands to speak to the British consul were rebuffed. “They told me I was nobody, I was nowhere and I had no rights,” she said.

This is a British citizen, resident in the US for years, no particular political activism, no public positions of any controversy.

Hopefully just a bureaucratic snafu, one that's taken longer than usual to get cleared up. Unfortunately, this kind of treatment is becoming all too common. Meanwhile, Germany manages to bust a terror plot by using a technique rapidly falling into disfavor here: the rule of law.

And so it goes.

No comments: