Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Department of Redacteurs sans Visa

Elena Lappin, whose name I know because she edited the Catbird anthology Daylight in Nightclub Inferno, to which I contributed several translations, recently spent 26 hours in federal detention for coming into the U.S. without a journalist's visa.

Though foreign journalists have always been required by law to have a press visa when entering this country, the policy was not often enforced until March 2003. (Lappin claims this is when the Department of Homeland Security was created; that may be when the press visa requirement began to be enforced, but it is not when the DHS was created; more on that later.)

Lappin breezily assumed that even if she stated, honestly, that she was a journalist but didn't have a press visa, she would be admitted to LAX, since she is a British citizen and the U.K. is a member of the visa waiver program. Boy, was she wrong.

To read her account of her deportation in the L.A Times, go here.

(As for the creation of the Department of Homeland Security: According to this document from the White House, Bush announced its creation on Sept. 20, 2001; on Oct. 8, 2001, he created the Office of Homeland Security; he proposed the DHS in June 2002; and the department itself was formed when Bush signed the bill in November 2002.)

Thanks to Johnny A. in P-burgh for alerting me to this story.