We just came back from Canada late last night.
But we almost didn’t make it.
At Toronto-Pearson Airport, we had to pass through US Customs screening. We thought there wouldn’t be any issues, since we DID come from the states, we are well within the 90-day period, and we didn’t even meet with any problems entering the states the first time (although still viewed with the same amount of suspicion).
At the checkpoint, after asking a slew of questions – why we were in Canada, why we were going to USA, what Fu does for a living (“software programmer” doesn’t cut it. The officer wanted DETAILS). I thought we were done after the finger prints were taken, but when the officer picked up a red marker and scribbled all over our declaration form, I knew in my gut something was amiss.
We were told to go to secondary clearance. What this means is that we didn’t pass clearance and had to go to a separate room for even more in-depth questioning.
WHY?!! We hold Singapore passports!!! You know, the very well-developed country with well-educated people who have absolutely nothing to gain being illegal immigrants or terrorists in the states? Why are you doing this to us?!
We walked towards the secondary clearance room, veering off the path to freedom that almost everyone else took.
The moment the doors opened, we saw many people (around 10+) sitting in a silent room. The first person that caught my eye was a man that totally fit the stereotypical image of a terrorist. Middle eastern man with black headgear, black robes that flowed all the way to the floor and a beard that was almost at his stomach. As if that weren’t enough, he had to go carry a rather large silver hexagonal metal case that was suspicious-looking to the max. What would possess one to go carry a case like that when he already looks like that? And in the states too! Poor guy must have been stopped every single time he tried to cross borders.
We were the only Asians in the room, and there was a smattering of other various ethnicities in the room. There were a couple of Caucasians too, but somehow I can’t help thinking they only put them there just to make it seem like they weren’t picking on the non-Caucasians.
We handed our passports to the person at the counter, and were just told to wait. There was no number or anything given.
There was signs plastered all around the room that read “No electronic devices allowed”. Guess they didn’t want people instagram-ing the going-ons of this area.
One guy was called up to the counter, some questions were asked, then he was escorted to private rooms to the side while his baggage was left behind.
WHAT GOES ON BEHIND THE CLOSED DOORS?!
Frightening snippets of random information flashed into my mind. Something about a girl being stripped down and prodded for drugs. Or was that prison? The atmosphere didn’t feel much different though.
You don’t know why you are here, when your turn is or how long you’ll be there. You might even miss your flight, but nobody except you cares. You have no idea what the people are typing at behind the monitors. You have no idea why the officer just grinned at the screen (my guess is that she was instant-chatting though). You have no idea what they’re checking on. You have no idea why it’s taking so long even though there are so many officers walking around with nothing to do. You can only wait in silence.
Fortunately for us, we were called up next! No idea why we got to bypass all those people who were waiting ahead of us, but we’re not complaining.
The questioning started all over again. Why we are in the USA. What is this “training” that Fu is supposedly here for. Why does it last for 3 months? “What do you mean when you say you “write software programs”?” *eyebrows raised questioningly and accusingly*
Man, they have a way of making you feel like you’re lying even though you’re telling the truth!
After Fu fumbled through the explanation and many questions later, she finally cleared us. Thank heavens we didn’t have to go into any private room!!!
This made for an interesting experience, but once is enough. I’m also rather turned off by visiting the USA again. I do not have to put up with being treated and interrogated like a criminal. I’d rather take my traveling elsewhere, to countries that will welcome me instead of viewing me with nothing but suspicion.