While I consider the USA my third home, after the UK and France, I am never sure what hat to wear every time I land here from Europe. As both the UK and France are allies in NATO conflicts, one might reasonably presume that a Journalist who has worked in the USA, has a home in the USA and has been here more times than a British BA airline pilot and just about knows everyone at immigration on a first name basis, would not be a suspect. But,to Americans since 9/11, everyone from Europe is a suspect. A potential Terrorist.
That 'special relationship' we hear so much about in England is not an expression foremost in Immigration official's vocabluary. We may fight wars together, but there it ends. Should we call it paranoia, or have we failed to recognise that what happened to the Twin Towers on that fatefull day on 9/11, altered the USA forever?
I think it's a little bit of both!
The USA is a big country with very porous borders and I'm sure it's far easier to get a pound or two of cocaine across from Mexico into Texas than get a nail file in through an international airplane terminal. It makes sense. Airplanes are vulnerable and soft targets and 'Terrorists' fly in, they seldom come on foot or horseback. Budding 'Pancho Villas' or even major drug Cartels have no wish to bring economic chaos to their main market place in the world.
So, next time Fred Bloggs and his wife Ethel from Clacton-on-Sea on holiday to touch down at any major airport in the USA expecting a clap on the shoulder from a friendly American Official who sprouts out: "Have a nice Holiday, folks, we love you Brits and the way you always help us out in war zones when we're getting a little short in the Cannon Fodder area," - so don't be too upset when you are instead faced with a very abrupt, 'OK. What are we carrying today that we shouldn't have, and while you are thinking that one over, pal , I want to know why your passport shows you visited
'Saudi Arabia' last year. Didn't you know that's where Bin Laden was born? Why are you both
really here and who gave you permission
to have an uncle in Jersey named Ali?