Tuesday, March 24, 2009

(Un)welcome to America !

Today was the opening day at GDC 2009.

I arrived Sunday morning at 10:15.. but I had to spend at least one hour just in the immigration office.
Ever since I had to start travelling abroad (from Japan) again, I've been stopped and searched a few times in the US airports.

It's degrading.. one tries not to think about it.. but to be put in a room, waiting and being asked questions and being finger printed again and again.
I guess having lived in the America before, then out and then back travelling frequently again, has been raising a few "red flags" in the immigration system.
But it's not just me.. other people are constantly put aside and made wait, made lose their connection flight, questioned again and again.
I understand the need to keep the country safe.. but treating harmless and innocent people like that can be rather counterproductive.
Now I really don't want to come back even if it's for business.. and the time I'll have to spend here has been spoiled from the start... because of this reminder that I'm being let in with some sort of reserve, under suspicion..

It may sound like a stupid thing to worry about.. but it does get to you.. it makes people feel unwanted, it makes you feel a bit more like terrorists every time.
The problem with this country is that it creates its own problems indeed..  repressing more and more, continuously creating new enemies.. Hollywood does it's best to give a glorious view of the country, but the reality is much different.
I appreciate the many intelligent, dedicated and hard working people that live here.. but the fundamental culture is still very much one of repression and violence.
Also the materialism.. tips to be paid everywhere, poverty in the street.. the constant fear that if you don't have  enough credit cards you don't exist.

Every time I come back, I get reminded of why I like Japan so much.. with all its defects, I never had to beg to work and live in Japan.. I never had to show my wallet to get someone to help me.

I don't fit in this country and this country really doesn't seem to like me...  still, I'm not a terrorist.. kindly keep that in mind next time I have to come for business.. believe me.. I don't enjoy being treated like an intruder.



  1. If you want to have a laugh, put chocolate bars in your shoes and then, once interrogated, say that it is part of your religious beliefs... :)

  2. Actually, I was pretty positive you were a terrorist...! ;)

    I also don't like the immigration of course. I think I've waited in line some two hours when I came to visit you in LA... and that was even before 9/11 IIRC!!!

    Anyway, I also guess that the reason behind this, besides security, is the excess of immigration the US is facing since basically always. This is surely not the case in Japan, so they can allow themselves to be more open towards immigrants.

  3. I've faced the same thing.. but.. both in the US (Miami) and in MY OWN country. However I guess that was understandable, seeing I was visiting south america. In Miami I was only questioned by a woman about who I was visiting and some details about it etc.. ; in New York it was fine, just the big baggage had to be manually searched through which didn't take long.

    Other than that, I had to do the fingerprint thing in Japan which everyone seems to complain so much about.. but I don't have a problem with that, takes a few seconds and you are done with it, dunno what's all the hype about getting your fingerprints scanned.

  4. Freddy,
    Not in my pants ? 8)

    Funny because eventually tons of illegal immigrants cross the border from Mexico.. to the point that Spanish is pretty much the accepted second language in Los Angeles.. and then there are some very skilled people, that have to undertake a "lottery" to get a visa work in the US.. I'm talking about people with actual degrees in physics, math, etc..

    This time around the fingerprinted me to death 8) one of the officers was trying to be funny and kept trying to tell me "left hand, right hand" etc etc.. in pseudo-italian-spanish ..making the thing even more difficult to start with !
    The problem with fingerprinting is that it's one more step towards losing privacy... while I was waiting in the immigration, some officer was questioning a Chinese guy about his past travels to the country (the guy and his gf/wife lost the connecting flight eventually).
    The officer eventually said "I'm just asking you to see your answer.. I know everything here".

    To know everything about someone is very dangerous.. it only takes a small mistake or a little bit of malice for something to go wrong.

  5. >Freddy,
    >Not in my pants ? 8)

    I still vote for the shoes: they must think that the chocolate is a dangerous explosive substance, not that you have a dig dick. :)

  6. Big, not dig.
    They do not dig you in the front part... :)

  7. I was thinking in my pants but behind.. where it would melt nicely 8)

    ewwww !!!

  8. I can already figure the conversation out:

    TSA Monkey: WHAT IS THIS?!?
    Kaz: Hmmm chocolate?

  9. Airport security is like anti-virus software, creates more problems than it solves.

  10. Airport security = UAC of Windows Vista... :)

    Yeah, my recent trip to US was the same. I was in the room (LAX airport) for over 2 hours - missed my connecting flight. I lived in Australia for a long time but still hold Malaysian passport. And guess what - Malaysia = Islamic country = terrorist. I'm not a Malay, neither a Muslim, and I certainly do not look like Obama... I mean Osama. :) Yet, the terrorist treatment. My mates holding Australian passport didn't even need a Visa!