I just returned from a ten-day trip overseas. Where? Doesn’t matter. What does matter is the great interest one U.S. immigration official had upon my return, as to why I’d been there. “Not a lot of people go to [redacted] for vacation, do they?” he asked.
How would I know? But since the man had my passport in his hands, I humored him.
“No, but they should,” I said. “They’ve got a lot of great museums.”
Then he proceeded to question me on
- The local cuisine – did I like it?
- Price of hotel rooms.
- The weather.
- What time of year should people go there?
What was up with all the questions? Did he think I’d just returned from delivering nuclear missile fuses to a nation that isn’t recognized by the United Nations? I generally leave that kind of foolishness to my guv’mint. Anyway, if I’d been up to such nefarious deeds, I wouldn’t be so stupid as to tell immigration.
As I waited for my luggage, I started to wonder why immigration cared so much about why I’d been abroad. Was this just some power trip by an emasculated retired cop, or more than that? I understand that countries like China and Cuba keep tabs on their citizens’ activities overseas, but I thought we were different from them.
We are, aren’t we?
At what point do we reach the tipping point between our traditional democratic values and totalitarian state surveillance of citizens? That’s another cataclysm I hope I don’t live to see.