I sometimes wonder where the old adage about seeing yourself as others see you has gotten off to. I’m thinking of the recent procedure the US government has implemented for folks to get a visa waiver to enter the United States. It’s obvious these government wonks have no idea that the US is having some perception problems in the minds of potential visitors—or are working overtime to see that nobody even thinks of entering our beloved country.
Besides charging our visitors $10 for the privilege of paying for the advertising that tells them the US is a really neato place to visit, there is an outrageous questionnaire visitors must fill out before they’re given the privilege of embarking. I give thanks to by Charlie Leocha who penned Washington’s twisted tourism logic for this incredible insight into the insanity the US government makes visitors sweat through.
The questions foreigners have to answer include inquisitions into their “moral turpitude” among others. Have any idea what moral turpitude includes? Imagine if you were a foreigner!
The reason you have little knowledge of moral turpitude is that the concept is a legal one which has never been precisely defined. In fact, there is (was) a 28 page PDF Document which attempts to help consular officers with the impossible task of determining a persons moral turpitude. If I’m reading it right, it would be pretty darn easy to deny entrance to just about anyone using the criteria established in this document. But then again, it’s pretty much all incomprehensible legal jargon.
Wanna come to my country, oh ye Italiani? Bring your suitcase, your passport, and your lawyer (who speaks English).
Oh, and don’t even think of coming to our great country if you’ve been a Nazi concentration camp guard. The form is quite specific on that one.
Why does the US government insist on treating everyone as a terrorist? Can’t you powerful folks blind to everything that goes on past our borders get over that? Can’t ya’ll see that treating people poorly is why tourism to the US is dying?
In the end, I agree with Charlie Leocha:
We will need far more than a Travel Promotion Act that adds another tax on entry and then creates a fluffy picture of the beauty of America in order to increase tourism to our United States. We need to begin treating tourists like the visitors they are and work at welcoming them into our country rather than treating them like suspected war criminals, potential child molesters, spies, terrorists or common crooks.
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