Monday, October 31, 2005

Scary story for Halloween

You want answers? You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!
* * *
This story illustrates why I don't like the idea of detaining people without solid legal reasons.

...When my turn finally came up at the counter, the INS agent asked me more questions than usual, and then closed his counter and asked me to follow him to a large room at the side of the immigration hall. Once there, along with a bunch of other people who had also been pulled aside for extra questioning, I waited for my file's turn to be examined by the officer at the counter there. (The original INS agent had deposited me and then returned to his duties elsewhere.) Finally my name was called, and after some very aggressive questioning about who I am, what I do, where I live, and on and on (and they frequently keep asking the same questions over and over, making one feel like they are hoping to trip you up in case you are lying), I was informed that I was being detained. Two agents handcuffed me and led me to another smaller room. When I asked what I had done, they said things like, "Oh, you know what you've done. You are in trouble, my friend." Then I asked to call a lawyer, and I was informed that I hadn't yet been admitted to the United States, and so had no legal standing. No lawyer would be called, nor would I be allowed to call anyone else. They took my cuffs off, fingerprinted me (very difficult because of my sweaty palms), recuffed me and then left me there.

It was at this point that my knees went a little trembly. I had heard many stories of Pakistanis being held under the Patriot Act without charges for months, and now I had visions of Guantanamo in my head, and I became almost dizzy with the adrenaline rush of fear...

Abbas Raza's Monday musing this week is a study in character develpment. If I had to go through what he did I don't think I would have handled it with the same equanimity.

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