Fingerprinting foreigners

An item in the paper caught my eye this morning as I was getting ready for work. The U.S. plans to fingerprint, photograph and track 100,000 foreign visitors as they enter the U.S. as part of anti-terrorism measures. By 2005, that number increases to ALL 3.5 million foreign visitors the U.S. receives each year. No one from any country is exempt, although men from Middle Eastern states are most likely to be screened.

There are a few problems I have with this — not just that we’re doing racial profiling and screening of innocent people. But also that this can be applied to anyone from any country if the administration feels it appropriate.

I’m a foreigner. The government already has my photo and fingerprints. I don’t do anything that would cause anyone to want to check up on me, but I don’t trust the people in power. Given the chance, there’d be a lot of changes made in our rights to freedom — everything from speech to religion to what we’re allowed to think. And I acknowledge that I think a lot differently from the majority of people, even if I don’t always show it.

I don’t mind having my luggage searched, leaving my scissors and army knife at home, and being screened with metal dectors when I travel. I prefer not to be picked to be patted down, even with the wand that the underwire in my bra sets off. I guess there could be bombs in there instead of boobs.

I understand that I am very fortunate to be able to live and work in this country. I’m willing to let the government test my blood for HIV and take my fingerprints in order to live here.

I don’t think, though, that in order to be able to simply visit the U.S. (for longer than 30 days) someone should have to agree to that. American’s would be outraged if they had to undergo that kind of suspicion and tracking while visiting foreign countries. They’d be loudly demanding their freedoms and talking about how great it is back home where America is the Land of the Free and the greatest country in the world.

This doesn’t sound like something a free country would do. Certainly not a great country.

BBC News story: UN questions new US entry controls