Friday, February 14, 2003

Screw the INS.

A Toronto woman coming home from India says she was pulled aside at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, accused of using a fake Canadian passport, denied consular assistance and threatened with jail.

In tears and desperate, Berna Cruz says she told U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) officers she didn't want to go to jail. She told them she had to get home to her two children and was expected to be at work the next day at a branch of a major Toronto bank where she works as a loan officer.

Instead of jailing her on Jan. 27, an INS officer cut the front page of Cruz's passport and filled each page with "expedited removal" stamps, rendering it useless.

She was photographed, fingerprinted, barred from re-entering the U.S. for five years and immediately "removed."

Not to Toronto, but to India, where she had just spent several weeks visiting her parents.

It took four days, and help from Canadian officials in Dubai and a Kuwaiti Airlines pilot, to get her back home.
If that isn't enough to make your blood boil, listen to this:

Cruz says an officer also asked here why her surname was not "Singh" and commented that it was clever of her to use a Spanish name. Cruz, who is separated from her husband, says she told the officers that her maiden name is Fernandez. It's not uncommon for Indian-born people to have Portuguese surnames, but the officers didn't seem to care, she says.

"They said, `You better tell the truth because we know this is not a valid Canadian passport. We'll throw you in jail,'" Cruz recalled.
So, any defenders of racial...excuse me, "cultural" profiling care to weigh in? I realize that the current U.S. government doesn't give a rats ass about Canadian-American relations and hasn't since the election, but this is indefensible. Let's face it; she was held because she was coming from India, was brown-skinned, and didn't fit the stereotype.

We have very high-tech technology out there to detect these kinds of tampered documents," said Gail Montenegro.

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