Tourism Warning

ALERT FOR TOURISTS INTENDING TO TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

POLICE BRUTALITY

Potential tourists should be aware that law enforcement in the United States of America may be more aggressive than they are accustomed to. There are 20,000 reports of abuse and 400 homicides annually by police officers.1, 2 It is estimated that additional cases go unreported.3 Interactions with law enforcement should be avoided if possible. Do not make sudden or fast movements. It is not uncommon for police contact to escalate to violence, quickly and unpredictably. More than 400,000 individuals have contact with police officers annually where force or the threat of force is used.4 You should consider your life in danger if forced into contact with a police officer in the United States.

Tourists should avoid bringing pets, particularly dogs. It is estimated that police officers shoot over twenty dogs daily in the United States.5 There is little recourse if your dog is shot by a police officer.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

The United States of America leads the world’s controversial “War on Drugs.” The United States has the highest incarceration rate and largest prison population in the world.6, 7 Approximately one out of every one hundred Americans are in prison. Minor nonviolent crimes may receive harsh sentences in the United States. You should strictly adhere to the law and avoid the consumption or possession of any illegal substances. It is possible for you to be sentenced to life in prison for a nonviolent crime. The United States is the only remaining Western country to execute inmates. Approximately 3500 people await execution annually and 40 condemned individuals are executed every year.8, 9

Foreign nationals have been held without charge and without trial for longer than ten years in some cases.10 The Red Cross reported that prisoners have been subject to torture.11 It is not uncommon for prisoners held before trial to commit suicide or be found dead.12

SURVEILLANCE AND PRIVACY

To visit the United States of America you must submit to having your biometric information entered into a federal database. You will be required to have all ten of your fingerprints taken as well as submit a facial photo.13 Refusal to submit your biometric information will be grounds for visa refusal. The border search exception allows United States law enforcement to perform routine searches of your person and belongings at international borders.14 This includes the full search of all electronic devices. This may also include the seizure and delayed search of electronic devices, with some laptops, cellular phones and tablets being held for years at a time. You may also be subject to cavity or involuntary x-ray search if law enforcement has reasonable suspicion that you are smuggling an item in your alimentary canal.15

You will be screened by no less than four different federal and law enforcement agencies upon entering the United States of America. These are the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). You may also be evaluated by, or come into contact with, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the National Security Agency (NSA) and state or local law enforcement.

DETAINMENT AND DEPORTATION

A valid tourist visa does not ensure your entry or stay in the United States of America. Even with a valid tourist visa you may be denied entry to the United States of America upon arrival.16 Approximately 800 people are denied entry to the United States of America daily.17 This policy has resulted in the rejection of legal immigrants, workers, students and tourists being turned away at the airport. You will not be reimbursed for the cost of your journey if you are rejected on arrival. You may be held for days to weeks in an immigration detention facility before being deported to your home country. Tourists have been denied entry to the United States of America for making inappropriate jokes on Twitter or for being HIV positive.18, 19 You are responsible for demonstrating to the immigration official, on your arrival, that you are qualified for the visa you have already been approved for.20 Previous rejection of entry may bar you from future permission to enter.

Resources

Defending Privacy at the U.S. Border: A Guide for Travelers Carrying Digital Devices

‘Say Please’ at US Border Nets Pepper Spray

Italian’s Detention Illustrates Dangers Foreign Visitors Face

My Detainment Story or: How I learned to Stop Feeling Safe in My Own Country and Hate Border Agents*

Detained in the US for “Visiting Thailand Too Much.”

Border Patrol’s Horrific Treatment Of On The Media’s Producer, Family & Friends Highlights The Lack Of Accountability From DHS

Don’t Fly During Ramadan

The Dark Side of the US Customs

In Which I Am Detained By US Customs and Nearly Denied Entry Into The US

Sources

1. Johnson, Kevin (Oct 15, 2008). “FBI: Justifiable homicides at highest in more than a decade”. USA Today.
2. Matthew Hickman (2006-06-26). “Citizen Complaints about Police Use of Force”. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
3. Loftin, Colin; Brian Wiersema, David McDowall and Adam Dobrin (July 2003). “Underreporting of Justifiable Homicides Committed by Police Officers in the United States, 1976–1998”. Am J Public Health 93 (7): 1117–1121.
4. “Contacts between Police and the Public: Findings from the 1999 National Survey”. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2001-03-21.
5. puppycide.com
6. New Incarceration Figures: Thirty-Three Consecutive Years of Growth”. Sentencing Project. December 2006.
7. Walmsley, Roy (2005). “World Prison Population List”. King’s College London, International Centre for Prison Studies.
8. “The Death Penalty in 2011: Year End Report” (2011) Death Penalty Information Center.
9. “Death Row Inmates by State and Size of Death Row by Year” Death Penalty Information Center.
10. “List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006” United States Department of Defense.
11. “Press Release 04/70: The ICRC’s work at Guantanamo Bay”. International Committee of the Red Cross. 30 November 2004.
12. Federal Bureau of Prisons Summary, 1989
13. United States Embassay in japan
14. United States v. Ramsey, 431 US 606 (1977[Text of footnote 4]
15. United States v. Montoya de Hernandez, 473 US 531 – Supreme Court 1985
16. “Denied Entry Into the US At the Airport: What To Do.” US-Immigration.com
17. Securing Borders – US Customs and Border Protection (cbp.gov)
18. “British Tourists Tweets Get Them Denied Entry To the US.” (2012). TIME.
19. “I am HIV+ And Want To Travel to the US” – US Customs and Border Protection (cbp.gov)
20. 8 United States Code § 1184(b)

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