What's in a Name?
Welcome back! I hope you had a nice Christmas, Hanukkah and/or start to Kwanzaa last week, and all your holiday travels went smoothly.
Yesterday I read with great interest this story in the Outlook section by Juan Fernando Gómez. Gomez is a Colombian-born international development consultant who keeps getting stopped by immigration officers when re-entering the U.S. because he has the same name as someone on the Terrorist Screening Center's watch list.
I confess to reading articles like these with my eyes peeled for weaknesses in the writers' arguments. In this case, I questioned Gomez's argument when he recounts advice he's gotten on how to get off the list:
"I've heard it all, from writing to my congressman (as if that would do any good) to filling out a form (never mind that no one has been able to produce the document or tell me where I can find it)."
Immediately, I wondered why he hasn't yet written his congressperson, despite his notion that it would be futile. Wouldn't it be worth a shot?
As for "filling out a form," a quick search on the Homeland Security Web site turned up the agency's Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP), with forms that can be filled out online and either mailed or e-mailed. Having never used this program, though, I can't vouch for its effectiveness in getting someone cleared when he or she has the same name as someone on a watch list. (We won't even get into Maryland activists landing on those lists...)
Nevertheless, I feel like Gomez could save himself a lot of trouble by taking these steps to end his repeated detentions. However, if he does write to his representative and submit a DHS TRIP complaint and he still gets detained, well, then I think that's worth another Outlook piece.
Anyone have another opinion?
* Travel Log will go dark for the rest of this week, returning on Monday, Jan. 5. Have a safe holiday.
By Christina Talcott |
December 29, 2008; 1:16 PM ET
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