Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The state of a strange land

The story posted on Shakesville about a New Zealander who was deported from LAX has been getting some attention among New Zealand bloggers. It's a powerful tale:

I was taken to another room and given another search. This one (thankfully) did not put her hands anywhere near my groin, just my legs, arms and torso. And my shoes.

I was then taken back out to the main reception area, given a paper bag, and told to put all my valuables into it. Including my $2 mood ring, my $3 watch, and... my bootlaces. And anything else I was carrying of value - my wallet, my MP3 player, and the water and food that I had been given by the officers at LAX.

I didn't know why I had to put the bootlaces in the bag. I think that if I had asked, I would have been told that it was "for my safety". However, since I was only able to shuffle slowly around, I believe that it was a ploy to dehumanise the detainees further.

I recommend you read the whole thing.

But I want to point out that New Zealand has its own degrading, dehumanising, racist immigration system. I've watched a woman about to be deported saying goodbye to her boyfriend in a prison visiting room. For pacific island women visas can be contingent on negative pregnancy tests. If you were detained in a New Zealand prison prior to deportation (and people are) - the cold, the strip search, the lack of access to medication, the constant dehumanisation would be the same.


Deborah said...

Yes. And the white privilege.

Carol said...

I think the blogger is to be commended that for highlighting the way, as bad as it was for her, she still got preferential treatment because she is white & non-Latino.

I think the reason she got on the wrong side of the US immigration authorities was prbably because she was also trying to avoid getting heterosexual privilege for her relationship.

While NZ immigration could be equally dehumanising and racist, I doubt someone would get the same treatment for calling their relationship a "domestic partnership" and refusing the heterosexual privilege involved in getting married. As the discussion below the blog entry indicated, the US authorities may have accepted the category "common law marriage". However, in the US "domestic partnership" may have sounded a bit to gay - or even "socialist gay" as the commenter put it.

katy said...

I got a very hard time at the NZ border a few years ago, once they were done with me I asked why I had been targeted and they said it was because I had been profiled as potentially dodgy and it turned out when I explored this further that that profile was that I had an Asian name and was making a short trip between Asia and NZ. It seems that in NZ having an Anglo-Saxon body doesn't neutralise having an Asian name.

Dave said...

I never take anything for granted when going through immigration / customs entry of any country. After all my travels my advice would be to smile, be polite, don't argue, don't become offended and indignant and if you have any medicine or drugs always carry a letter from your doctor.