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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 15:32 GMT
US Security checks: Your reaction
US flag and fingerprint
British diplomats are said to be working with their US counterparts to try to save thousands of British visitors having to apply for visas to enter the US.

At the moment travellers from 27 countries including the UK can visit the US for up to three months without a visa under the "visa waiver programme".

But from 26 October they will have to carry new "biometric" passports containing digital photographs and fingerprints or obtain a visa from their American embassy.

Earlier this week, it was announced that international travellers arriving in the USA will have their photographs taken and fingerprints checked, under new security regulations.

What do you think of the security measures? Will they make the US safer?

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

This topic was suggested by Rose in Canada:
Should other countries follow Brazil's suit and fingerprint American visitors? Is the US going too far in the name of national security?

I have no problem with the new system but let's be fair here. Isn't it about time the Americans had to have a visa to come to the UK? This is a return to the old system where we needed a visa and they didn't. Let's see how they like paying 100 dollars.
Phillip Webb, Reading England

I think the new security measures are great. Sadly, this should have been done a long time ago. I am an American and I realise that the way things were, will never be again. Travelling home with an extra sense of security is worth it to me. Why would anyone complain about an extra security step, what is a few minutes really going to harm?
Tami Curtis, Buntingford, UK

"If you have nothing to hide..." Then get a life!

This is all part of a vicious circle of fear. The more security measures you take, the more fear you create, the more people demand security measures etc. The Bush administration is cleverly exploiting that vicious circle, because it is much easier to implement security measures, than to fight poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. Don't let them fool you: despite 9/11 (and despite the NRA) the USA are quite a safe country, and they have no need for security checks like these.
John, London, UK (frequent visitor to US)

Originally from Manchester in order to live in the US, I have had 2 sets of fingerprints taken and have had to submit 4 sets of passport photos....... no biggie. What's the beef? It's their ball and they'll take it home if they want!
Matt, Manistee, Michigan

I refuse to be subject to unnecessary humiliation, interrogation and distress
H. Singh, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
It is this arrogant, unilateral way of thinking from some of the American readers here: "If you don't want to be photographed by US Immigration, then don't come to America", which epitomises the Bush Administration. (Remember "you're either with us or against us"?) Well I'm Malaysian, and until yesterday was a prospective tourist to America. Even though I'm not Muslim, I refuse to be subject to unnecessary humiliation, interrogation and distress.
H. Singh, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

It saddens me to read of the rude and outright racist treatment for international travellers to the US.. Yes, we do have a very much "us ves them" attitude in government functions and I wish to publicly express my regret to all who have suffered. However, what I do see coming, in the US and soon worldwide, is a technological driven approach to ALL security. The computer will be more and more making the "selection" of what is allowed and the human being will gradually assume a "cargo" like status. In the end you might avoid the US, avoid terrorists, but no-one will escape being photographed, fingerprinted and I.D.ed. It is the perfect tool for, not crime control, but domination.
Sgt. Charles Mungovan/La. Cap. Police, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Great idea! But why not everybody? Hasn't Washington heard about the IRA, ETA, Bader Meinhoff... Europe has as many crazies as the rest of the world. Those that object to a 15 second finger print scan and picture can vote with their feet and stay home.
Phil, Maidehnead, UK

These checks are needed and long over due. Although racist in application as Europeans ought to be checked as well. If they've got nothing to hid, then why worry? Travellers also should be checked upon leaving the USA to make sure that they'd not committed any crimes here during their stays. If they don't like these rules, and checks, they can just stay home. When I enter another nation I expect them to check me out, even going to Canada from the US we get checked, so why not check out these people from the Sudan and Iran?
Michael, Mount Shasta USA

I am appalled by those who argue that 'if you have nothing to hide, then why not be fingerprinted with details of your identity'? Right, so where are we heading then? What's the next step? Ask people to use a computer to log-in their identity details and if the computer fails to recognise them, turn them back? Is America losing sense of its global responsibility for the free movement of capital and labour? And then the question, how do these identity checks stop terrorism? Are people from outside the pool of free visa countries more likely to be terrorists than others? What evidence supports this?
Leonardo, Brazil/UK

I understand that having your picture taken can be humiliating (i.e., my passport photo). However, there are places in Europe where you cannot walk down any street without being on CCTV. As far as I know there is no outrage at this. No one is claiming "big brother" is watching. This is a simple matter of the US having the right to know who enters its borders. At least in the US you know when you are on camera and the surveillance ends at the airport.
Myles, San Francisco, USA

The anxiety displayed over this system is ludicrous
Eric, Detroit, USA
I have to say, the anxiety displayed over this system is ludicrous. All countries require photographs and fingerprints for visa issuance, and the US has done so already for decades. Anyone who gets a visa from a US Consulate fills out an application, gets fingerprinted, presents a photo passport, and provides another photo to be imprinted with the visa. The new law merely requires a fingerprint and photo (digital) upon entry to the US so that the computer can cross check the individual using biometric technology. How, pray tell, is this an injustice or an indignity?
Eric, Detroit, USA

If the U.S. is going to fingerprint and photograph international travellers, then they should not be selective. They should fingerprint and photograph every international traveller, and every other country in the world should do the same thing.

I think it is a great idea and everyone everywhere should have the same policy. The only people who complain at measures such as these are those with something to hide. Being fingerprinted does not "suck away my freedom" it gives me security!!!!!
Carolyne, Manchester, England

This gross over-reaction by the US is totally uncalled for. The rest of the world has been living with international terrorism for a long time now and mostly copes with the security aspects very well... the US has one major incident and suddenly the rest of the world has to suffer for it? How do they think the peoples affected by their funding of other international terrorist organisations have felt for the past 30-40 years? Welcome to the club America... now see how the grown-ups do this elsewhere and follow suite.
Artela, Swansea, Wales

To quote the song, "It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it!" I, like most travellers to the USA, would have no problem with being photographed, fingerprinted, and even delayed. What I do object to is the arrogant and often extremely offensive attitude of US Immigration officials. Other countries manage to operate stringent entry controls without humiliating visitors, why can't America?
John, England

Is the US going to tattoo code bars and implant GPS locators on visitors next? We as people of planet earth must draw a line to what we will accept in the name of the national security of the US. I believe that this measure is beyond that line.
Nikos P., Athens Greece

Fingerprinting is one more way to let foreign visitors know that they are not Americans and therefore suspect
Mary Dirlam, Havre de Grace, MD, USA
I am saddened at the steps my government is taking in the name of national security. This, like most of the "anti-terrorist" measures enacted by the Bush administration, will do little to protect our national security and will further alienate us from the global community. We are no longer the land of the free when people are presumed guilty until proven otherwise. Fingerprinting is one more way to let foreign visitors to our country know that they are not Americans (or, in this case, Western Europeans, either) and therefore suspect. If enough Americans are treated this way when they are abroad, maybe we will finally hear some outcry against our ever-narrowing definition of freedom. If our principles of freedom, justice and equality end at our borders, how sincere is our belief in them?
Mary Dirlam, Havre de Grace, MD, USA

As much as i try to understand the reasons that lead to this decision the only assumption is that they want us scared to death. Don't travel, stay at home and keep shopping; now these are safe activities for everyone, right?
Zoe, Athens/Greece

An additional fifteen seconds to have your finger prints scanned and your picture taken hardly seems an unreasonable delay to satisfy the government's need to provide security. If you are adamant that you don't want the US government knowing who you are when you enter, you obviously have something to hide and don't belong here anyway.
Mark, USA

What are the measures for internal flights? ALL the 9/11 planes were internal flights - and there are plenty of recruits for these missions who are US residents.
Graeme, England

I applaud Brazil for fighting this policy
Pete Garbacki, Spring Hill, FL USA
The US is wrong to treat so many this way. I applaud Brazil for fighting this policy. It will affect me as I travel to Brazil frequently, but I agree with Brazil's response. The USA's list of nations it does not fingerprint is full of western European countries. Sounds like real discrimination to me.
Pete Garbacki, Spring Hill, FL USA

It's better to be safe than sorry. Anyway, the US is not the only country to photograph travellers - I was photographed in India on a domestic flight and my image was then reproduced on my boarding card to be checked on arrival at my destination. It really does make sense to be vigilant. I have no problems with the US regulation.
Anyta Mukerjea, Singapore/India

What bothers me most about this entire procedure is the question: where does the information gathered by immigration go and what is the Bush administration doing with it? Remember the poor British guy who got arrested in Africa because the FBI mistook him for somebody else? I have no confidence whatsoever in the efficiency of these agencies. After all, these were the ones that presented the world with false and inconclusive documentation about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The entire procedure is just a smokescreen to scare the hell out of the poor Americans and get Bush re-elected. And for the Americans who say that their trillion dollar economy can do without visitors: Ask you local University where most of its researchers come from. You would be surprised to which extent US science depends on foreigners....
Conny, UK/Germany

The new Security regulations should be applied to all nations and not for the selected ones. They will be counteracted by those nations that consider them to be offensive. They will hinder tourist trade and friendly relations for the United States and the World.
Abdul, Sao Paulo, BRAZIL

This is a perfectly justifiable idea and I would like to see this happen at UK
This is a perfectly justifiable idea and I would like to see this happen at UK entry points to all non-UK nationals. Having read through the information on the Dept. of Homeland Security website it is clear that one of the principal benefits of this system is that it will allow immigration authorities to establish that the person holding the visa is the person who originally applied for it. It will also cut down on identity fraud by illegal visitors using documents stolen from their legitimate holders. I would also say that in my previous visits I have always found US immigration and security personnel to be unfailingly polite and helpful - certainly better than many of their counterparts in the UK.

I think the idea sucks away the freedom we are supposed to be protecting. Bush is trying to win the election by scaring us. The only people who think this is a good idea are the blindly patriotic Middle Americans who never leave the state they live in, which unfortunately is a lot of people.
Ken, Boston, USA

It's their country, they can do what they want inside it. As a British citizen, if we are subjected to such treatment, it would only be right that we do the same to American visitors. Perhaps a Europewide policy like Brazil has done. They will soon learn their lesson.
Sam Hussey, London, UK

As an American wife of a Brazilian, I have experienced the immigration process here in the US. I have had great experiences and horrible experiences. Overall, I have seen an improvement in the way we have been treated since 9-11. I honestly don't see what the big deal is about being fingerprinted and photographed. After all banks fingerprint people in the US all the time. As for Brazil's reaction, I would say it is extremely childish and melodramatic.
Beth, Florida

Is what they're doing actually legal under international law? I've visited the US a number of times since September 11th and found their security to be far more lax than the UK and certainly most of Europe. It would seem like a far more sensible measure to ensure that the existing US immigration processes are adhered to and applied properly rather than using terrorism as an excuse to build up intrusive information about everyone entering the US.
Giles Clinker, London

It will make the USA safer and we should do it in the UK however the USA has crossable borders and a long coastline so serious terrorists and criminals could still find a way in but maybe they can be kept off planes.
Keith, Rayleigh, England

All people do is moan at how long the delay will be
Leslie, Manchester
It really seems like there is no pleasing some people. All people do is moan at how long the delay will be because they are taking extra security measures which everyone wants. And then people are worried about privacy being invaded; if you have got nothing to hide then where's the problem? People seem to forget that they want protecting but when the government comes up with ideas to do this it just isn't good enough. I for one feel safer in the sky then a do walking round down here.
Leslie, Manchester

It might be better than asking me to take all of my cloth off, as it was the case for the last few years. On the other hand, whatever kind of disrespect it is, to me it is wrong, and going to US stays out of question!
Shadi Fadda, Beirut, Lebanon

As a frequent traveller to the USA, I think this new technology is a must to protect passengers and the nation. Let's face it, a couple of seconds can make all the difference and will act as a barrier to terrorism. Let's hope BAA introduces this system in UK airports. They already have a photo and barcode system for domestic flights so why not extend to international flights?
Geoff, London

Guilty until proven innocent. May God save us all.
Norman Wilcox, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

I would like to know how easy it would be for me an English born citizen to enter Iraq. Can I just sail through immigration there or would they stop me and ask a few questions? This does beg the question how can you possibly be upset by the US making at least some attempt to monitor entrants to there country and why are we not doing the same?
Sarah Mannion, Macclesfield, England

Don't see how this will keep everyone safe. The WTC bombings could surely have been stopped with metal detectors. A friend of mine was stopped when he accidentally left a tiny 6cm souvenir pen-knife in his carry-on bag - how did they manage box-cutters? Plus, what if you have something to hide but it's nothing they should be concerned about?
Colm O'Connor, Limerick, Ireland

That is truly democratic measures. The USA must be prevented from terrorism. But this can remove human right to be free.
Troy Mittel, Israel

We have every right to take the necessary measures to ensure our safety
Bill, USA
It's amazing to read some of these postings from people who protest the new procedures and actually think they will do the US a disservice by staying home. We have every right to take the necessary measures to ensure our safety. If you don't like the new fingerprinting procedures then don't come here, simple as that. I think our $12 trillion economy will manage just fine without your tourist dollar.
Bill, USA

To Bill from the US - Most of the visits to the US are on business and the US is clearly concerned enough about foreign economies to implement protectionist policies so I suppose your $12trillion economy is not quite as secure as you think.
Mark, UK

According to the FBI approx 10,856 people were killed in gun crime in the USA in 2002. How about spending more time targeting this. This is the equivalent of three WTCs a year. The USA should spend their energy in stopping this.
Dave, London UK

What I would like to know is why is it that every time I arrive in the US in transit with no intention of entering the country I am then forced (often rudely) to go through immigration in order to catch my connecting flight. What is the point of this? I then am asked irrelevant (to me) questions at immigration such as "reason for visit" and get funny looks when I reply "so that I can leave!" Does this mean that I am going to be subjected to these new measures the next time I am in transit even though I have no wish whatsoever to enter the US?
Bernard, Calgary, Canada

It is so unreasonable to take fingerprints and photographs. I can't see how that could make USA safer. Generally terrorists wait to do their attack with a clean criminal record trying to be unnoticed. Very ironic that these measures affect only foreign travellers. USA forgets that the highest risks come from inside USA NOT generally from outside! Why not doing a DNA test too!!
Vincent, Paris - France

To all those who carp and complain about these new procedures, I say grow up! As a Muslim Canadian in America who travels quite a bit, I have faced my share of 'special treatment'. Even though I am born in Canada, I recently worked with an international NGO in Syria, and am now branded a 'special registrant'. This process takes more than the 'few seconds' everybody is ranting about. I have had to miss classes to go for special INS interviews, be singled out for exhaustive searches in airports, missed my last 4 out of 5 flights, and been interviewed extensively, all because I tried to help people in a far away country.
Taufiq Rahim, Princeton, NJ

We had such an attack on 9-11 because we were so lax on security that terrorists took advantage of us
Michelle, United States
We want foreign visitors in our country, but we had such an attack on 9-11 because we were so lax on security that terrorists took advantage of us, please look at it in most of our view. We were attacked because we didn't have this procedure in the first place to prevent this from happening. Don't quit coming, we want you here, but we want to also be more careful, it's nothing against you. And to the few Americans.. did you forget what terrorists did to your country? We can't have a lax attitude anymore, anyone can attack us if they wanted to.
Michelle, United States

My husband is British and my children are dual citizens. Must I expect issues re-entering my own country now when we visit his parents in Wolverhampton? The Americans agreeing with this policy, especially those on this forum, are sheep. Wake up. Realise that we are losing our freedom. This is discrimination at its worst. This is not what our Founding Fathers had in mind.
Michelle, USA

I fail to see how ink pads and cameras are going to stop terrorism. I would have thought metal and explosive detectors would be more useful.
Alex, UK expat, Sydney, Australia

I totally agree with the new policy. I'm sure there will be a bunch of people upset about our civil liberties but they never seem to have a suitable alterative. It is the same old story, people expect the government to protect us but they do not trust them enough to give them the tools required. You can't have it both ways┐.
Mike Yankovich, Spotsylvania, VA

I'm Irish working in New York on a visa. Coming back after Christmas the system works very efficiently, causes no delays and to be honest, if you've done nothing wrong why be afraid of having your prints and photo taken in the name of security? The Brazilian reaction is idiotic and it's petty to react the way they have.
Derek, New York, USA

I used the new system on Friday and even though it was only the second day of use, it worked fine. I would say that my passage through immigration was faster than usual.
Simon Clark, Moraga, USA

Treating the travelling public like criminals will cause an enormous drop in leisure travel
Gerry, Philadelphia, USA
On January 5th I returned to Newark, NJ after spending my New Year's holiday in London. While I understand the need for thorough screening of passengers, it seemed to me that several of the security procedures in the US were designed to intimidate visitors and served no useful purpose. Aggressively nasty customs agents asking seemingly irrelevant questions. Treating the travelling public like criminals will cause an enormous drop in leisure travel and people like me will not want to repeat this extremely unpleasant and stressful experience any time soon.
Gerry, Philadelphia, USA

As an ex-pat working over here and travelling frequently I have absolutely no objections to being finger printed and photographed if it makes for a safer journey and American nation. The long term effects of 9/11 still can't be quantified. America is becoming more like Israel everyday to protect its people and its freedom.
John, Houston

I'm a Brit living in America. I imagine it won't be long before this is hailed as a huge "success" and Britain falls in line, as usual, doing what it's told. Tony will have us all fingerprinted and photographed coming into England soon. Quite how this is going to curb terrorism is beyond me. But it's a very neat and quick way of giving everyone entering the country a criminal record. I have nothing to hide, but I don't want to be fingerprinted just for entering a country. It's ridiculous.
Chris Longhurst, Salt Lake City, USA

As a dual national (Canadian/US), I have no problem whatsoever with the US enforcing stronger controls to protect their citizens. If longer lines and harsher lines of questioning are going to protect myself and my family, I will gladly endure this. Having lived in Brazil for a year in 1989/90 and having to undergo finger printing and unsavoury treatment at a police station in order to get a temporary residents card, I hardly feel that they have cause to complain.
Catherine, Toronto, Canada

Whatever happened to America as the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Chris, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I have travelled to the US many times to visit relatives (although not in the last 5 years), and the immigration procedure can be distressful. Although I have no desire to go back to the US for pleasure, sooner or later I will have to because of bereavement. I will dread the time when that happens.
NW, Malaga, Spain

Even though it may be more expensive, I will make alternative travel arrangements
Jamie McLachlan, London, UK
The Bush administration has most of the population of the US so terrified that it seem like they can do almost anything in the name of security. As soon as US citizens start to question their government's erosion of their civil liberties, the government turns on the terror alert. I am a frequent visitor to the States as my family has a holiday home there, and also pass through in-transit as I frequently use US carriers. Even though it may be more expensive, I will make alternative travel arrangements as it's just too inconvenient now - Even with a British passport. Well done Brazil!
Jamie McLachlan, London, UK

The procedures being implemented by the U.S. are hardly excessive. I went through much the same thing as a student studying in Switzerland 30 years ago! Where the U.S. can make improvements is in how these procedures are carried out. An aggressive attitude on the part of U.S. customs officers is neither necessary or constructive. I contrast this with Swiss officials who were always unfailingly polite while they frisked me and went through my luggage with a magnifying glass. It's not what U.S. officials do, as much as how they do it, that annoys visitors.
DF, Ottawa, Canada

I am an American citizen, born and raised. My husband is Brazilian and lives with me in Florida, we have a two year old daughter. Last year we visited Brazil and when we came back we were held as a family in customs for at least a few hours. We were treated like criminals, as if our intentions were anything other than just coming back home. All these people that think its no big deal to be held in customs, and fingerprinted and photographed, obviously just advocate it because they will never have to go through it. I am proud of my husband's country for standing up to the US and their backwards policies.
Theresa de Souza, Pompano Beach, FL, US

What is my government planning to do with the information they collect on visitors to this country?
Lori, Atlanta, GA, USA
I have read through all of the previous comments and no one has yet brought up the issues that bother me the most about these new 'security' procedures. What is my government planning to do with the information they collect on visitors to this country? Where will it be stored? How long will it be kept? Who will have access to it? It saddens me that I must ask these questions about my own government.
Lori, Atlanta, GA, USA

I have just returned from 2 weeks vacation in the US and despite all the horror stories, had absolutely no problems, passing through immigration at JFK in less than 10 minutes. My American girlfriend (US citizen) with whom I travelled, actually had to stand in a longer line than I did. Entering Britain through Stansted in October took far longer. I think the Americans are doing as much as they can to prevent passenger delays but inevitably there will be a few innocent people who fall foul of the increased security measures.
Steve, Brussels, Belgium

I read these comments and reflect on the horrible stories of my Brazilian wife entering the UK. The UK is notorious for its curt immigration officers, who are quick to return a hopeful visitor back to their home country, without refunding the purchased air or lodging amounts. She has been subjected to humiliating strip searches in backrooms, lengthy antagonistic interrogations about her intended purpose to visit the UK, and scornful looks from the immigration officers. However, given the sovereignty of the UK, and its rightful place to enforce its immigration and other laws, I remind her of the voluntary nature of her visit. It is high time people stop reacting with emotional vitriol to a country's sovereign right to enforce its laws as it sees fit in the best interests of its citizens, those to whom the government owes its duty to protect.
John, USA

George W. Bush promised to "change the tone" when he was elected President. He did. This aggressive policy of guilty before proven innocent and the transformation of America into a police state, however, isn't really the tone any of us were hoping for. Brazil has got it right; let Bush and his government know they're not treating people right.
Andrew Greenhow, Toronto, ON, Canada

My interview with Immigration officers was pure harassment
Catherine V, Lausanne, Switzerland
I was re-routed via Miami by BA on my way to The Bahamas without prior notice on 13 December. I filled in the wrong coloured form prior to disembarking in transit to embark on an AA flight to Nassau. My interview with Immigration officers was pure harassment. I was not entering USA, I was in transit and was not asked whether I had agreed or not to be re-routed. It was just humiliation. The officers made me feel I had one choice: to re-embark on the BA flight and go back to London. I hope many many more countries will act as Brazil does and reciprocate.
Catherine V, Lausanne, Switzerland

If they can photograph and fingerprint people from some countries, they have to do the same with everybody else. Even Europeans - terrorists carry any sort of fake passport... As a Brazilian I cannot number how many times I've been humiliated by the US immigration . As I don't have anything to hide, today I laugh about their procedures.. It's totally pathetic! Honestly, as if someone with all the intentions to blow up a airplane would care about being photographed! So this is not the best procedure.
Luana Santos, Sao Paulo Brazil

I am an Indian student in US and FIRMLY support this programme. I don't want the American public to blame all foreign students for the actions of a few Muslim terrorists.
Malolan Cadambi, USA/India

After fingerprinting and photographing the arrivals, will the usual suspects be tracked during their entire stay in USA? Or will they be turned back on the basis of mere suspicion? The first option seems impossible to achieve and the second one is ridiculous. I guess we will have to bring back "a no-frills Concorde" to take into account the delays caused by these stupid procedures.
Vinay Chitnis, Pune, India

We are obviously not welcome any more
TDP, Brussels, Belgium
Anyone who has ever been to the US knows about the long immigration delays and the way the officials behave suspiciously and cause unease even among ordinary people. Personally it is always a stressful time for me, even though I know I have nothing to worry about. After the stress of flying, one wrong move such as an irritated answer to a question can land you in a heap of trouble. These further checks guarantee travellers of all origins further delays as immigration queues do not distinguish between "aliens". For my part I have decided not to visit the States again even though I have family there and I have enjoyed it as a tourist destination for many years. We are obviously not welcome any more. I will take my money elsewhere.
TDP, Brussels, Belgium

I strongly advise all visitors to get a full visa and not rely on the 'visa waiver' program. It's pretty evident from recent stories that some staff in the US INS really dislike admitting visitors on the waiver, and as a result, people have been refused entry and sent back. Journalists in particular should beware. It will be interesting to see the statistics on US tourist income, I'll bet they will show a big drop in earnings.
Clive, Monterrey, Mexico

Now that the UK government have defended the grounding of flight 223 to Washington, and the actions of the US government in applying additional security checks can one assume that the UK government will now place similar procedures on flights and visitors to the UK? Surely if it is essential for the US to do this, then it must be essential for us too. So why are the government delaying its introduction? And if it isn't important or an effective deterrent, then why aren't the UK government protesting the US governments actions?
Lawrence, UK

It will make clearing immigration for visitors quicker and more efficient
Mark, Hartford, USA
Despite the perception, the US-VISIT program is intended to speed the immigration review process. It will make clearing immigration for visitors quicker and more efficient. Perhaps Europe should follow suit. I have experienced significant delays in European airports. I have also had my suitcase locks broken in every European airport- without compensation. So please stop whining...
Mark, Hartford, USA

I believe Brazil is entirely justified in their new policy. International relations are based on the principle of reciprocity. Terrorists are everywhere, there is no reason to believe that they may not originate from the US. If other countries start treating US citizens the way their own citizens are treated at US airports, the US may reconsider their mistreatment foreign citizens at US airports.
Al, San Fran, US

I see many Europeans (not all) using this forum to complain about delays when entering the US airports. However, these people need to be reminded that travellers from non-EU countries often face lengthy delays when arriving in Europe (DeGaulle and Heathrow are terrible, Gatwick is only slightly better). The fingerprinting is intended to overcome the "religious/racial profiling" of Muslim or Middle/Near Eastern visitors but will certainly not be a perfect system upon implementation. Such things take time and I do apologize for the inconvenience, but I feel it is a more appropriate response to the threat of terrorism than pulling aside every Muslim, Arab or Pakistani who steps off a plane.
Ted Dimitry, Houston, Texas USA

Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 terrorists visa applications to enter the USA (remember they didn't even try to sneak in) would have been rejected outright if US Embassy officials had bothered to check the applications fully, and applied existing immigration laws at the time.
Steve McColl, London

The whole idea about finger printing and photographing entrants to the US would be less discriminatory if it was applied across the board to all visitors. Being of African decent, my experience with the Airport checks has been one filled with bitterness from humiliating experiences I have had to endure, through very intrusive checks in the past.

I challenge those who claim this as a positive development to think again. I have been through, Heathrow, Stockholm, De Gaulle, Frankfurt, Zurich, Amsterdam, Toronto, Rome and other airports across the world many times, but my experience with most American ports of entry have left me scared for life! I can give you some horror stories, but I don't have the space and opportunity to do so. Way to go Brazil!
Jacobo Mwasi, Orlando, USA

Every country has an international right to know who crosses its borders
Jim Harwell, Norfolk, VA, USA
Every country has an international right to know who crosses its borders and for what purposes they are visiting. I am willing to accept the same identification process in my visits to other countries as we are requiring of them. However, I believe we should not exclude any nation from photographing and fingerprinting of their guest to the USA. Because of the high crime rates and fear of HIV infection from the epidemic there, I have no need to visit Brazil. However, I congratulate them on their new identification process.
Jim Harwell, Norfolk, VA, USA

I stayed and studied in the US for 7 years, and recently returned to Sweden. I'm a Swedish citizen, though born in Iran. I had to go through the humiliation of Special Registration while living there - which means an hour long interview and fingerprinting. Upon leaving the country, I once again had to go though Special Registration (called Exit Registration). So being a European will have little effect. This is a clear case of racial/ethnic profiling, and mainly targets Muslims, or people in contact with Muslims, even if you aren't Muslim yourself. And if your name resembles that of a person on FBI's watch list, imagine the consequences. Next stop, Guantanamo Bay?
S.L., Sweden

This doesn't really have much to do with terrorism and has more to do with controlling illegal immigration. However, it's being sold as anti-terrorist (like most everything in Washington these days). Would be great to see more countries following Brazil's lead. (Although as an American, I won't be visiting there anytime soon exactly because of this.)
Joe Belmondo, Amsterdam, NL

My family and I have never been more mistreated than we were leaving the US this summer, which was in stark contrast to our experience on the same trip through Heathrow and Munich. The US needs to learn as much as they can from the rest of the world who has been dealing with terrorism for decades. Treating everyone like a suspect is NOT the way. Forcibly ripping my toddler's belt off his body while he screamed in fear was the most insensitive and aggressive action I have ever experienced.
Mark Giles, Mountain View, MO, USA

Those who advocate this treatment have obviously never been on the receiving end
Scott M, Norfolk, UK
As a frequent visitor to the US, if anyone clears Immigration in less than an hour they are doing well. I am white, British, born and raised in the U.K. of British parents and hold a British passport. However, I have worked in Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen and Egypt and because of this have been pulled aside for more questioning on several occasions. The people doing the questioning are invariably aggressive and arrogant. You are presumed guilty and are treated in a way that would get a US criminal set free if the Police had treated him the same way. Twice I have had suitcases broken by US searches - no apology or compensation from them either. I am flying into the US this Friday and dreading the reception I am going to get. Those who advocate this treatment have obviously never been on the receiving end. The average American has no idea how arrivals are treated in the name of security and are invariably shocked when I tell them.
Scott M, Norfolk, UK

Actually, I fail to see how this would make any significant reductions in the chance of people with terrorist intent entering the country. How many of the men involved in the events of September 11 would have been flagged in any way by this procedure? Most likely few to none. How many prospective terrorists have their photos and prints on file already? Most likely few to none. This procedure will produce vast piles of paperwork. Who is going to be looking at the tens of thousands of photos and prints and when they do, how on earth will they be able to pick out the suspicious from the innocent? Far from making me feel better about my safety, this kind of bull-in-a-china-shop measure just makes me worry all the more.
JT, Brooklyn, NY

We had 3000 dead on 9/11 and we are not going to repeat that experience. If these security precautions are too much of an inconvenience for you, then stay home or go elsewhere.
Roger, Nashville, US

Totally 1984. Totally OTT. Brazil will not achieve anything, unless more countries join in. The US behaves like a grammar school bully. On the other hand, it is your choice. Visiting the US is hardly a vital experience and most people who do not find this procedure objectionable will probably just have to endure it.
Martin, Praha, Czech Rep.

I am glad my government is taking necessary precautions to protect me and my family from terrorists
Shawn Perkins, NY, USA
As an American, I am glad my government is taking necessary precautions to protect me and my family from terrorists. I am sorry that this may be an inconvenience for many visitors to my country. However, I must remind everyone that al-Qaeda and their friends are still at war with the USA. Instead of blaming the USA for the inconvenience this new policy may cause you, please place the blame appropriately at the feet of Muslim extremists who want to kill my people. This is an appropriate response to a very real threat.
Shawn Perkins, Hyde Park, NY, USA

There are countries with very troubling regimes in South East Asia but after discussion with colleagues in a very international workplace I think that the only country that should not be visited or invested in on ethical grounds is the United States of America. A real rogue state.
Matthew Raggett, Singapore

I'm sorry but all those people who have made comments saying that this latest decision by the US is discriminatory and criminal are missing the point. The US have every right to do what they want to ensure the safety of their citizens. I have got no objections to being fingerprinted or photographed as i have nothing to hide or be worried about. Perhaps those who do object should be asking themselves if they should be going over anyway. I think Diane's comment (below) is excellent - why aren't we doing the same over in the UK?
JRA, Wiltshire, England

As a British businessman I travel to the US at least 6 times a year and had expected the new regulations to apply to me also (I was unaware that Visa Waiver countries were excluded). I had no concerns whatsoever at submitting to the electronic fingerprinting process, as any measures that can be taken to improve security without imposing lengthy delays are a good idea as far as I'm concerned.
Richard, Bromley, UK

The tone of voice and rude manner in which such checks are conducted cannot be excused
Anon, Johannesburg, South Africa
These measures discriminate against visitors from non-European countries. Yet American politicians keep crooning about human rights, justice and freedom when their policies fly in the face of their rhetoric. Secondly, even Europeans of Middle Eastern descent are pulled out of the crowd and subjected to special checks in spite of the so-called waiver. The other point is that even if one concedes to America the right to check certain in coming passengers, the tone of voice and rude manner in which such checks are conducted cannot be excused. America should protect the weak and law-abiding, not humiliate them.
Anon, Johannesburg, South Africa

America has a larger security force than the KGB at the peak of the Cold War. More people died in Washington DC in one year from gunshot wounds than in all terrorist attacks on the US ever. This is a typically crude US response, and will have no effect on security - after all, 1000s of Mexicans have no trouble getting in every year across the border. They have however achieved what al-Qaeda wanted, which is damaging the US economy.

I've travelled a lot to the US over the last 2 years. The whole US airport experience is dreadful already - long queues with obstreperous staff and degrading checks seem to be the norm. It is an especially unpleasant ordeal when arriving after a long flight from the UK. Biometric data capture will add to travellers' misery and I really don't want such information taken. The country is firmly off my list as a tourist destination. Hurrah for Brazil!
Robert Carr, Paisley

It is a small price to pay
Duncan, Salisbury, UK
A lot of people are bleating about finding it hard to enter the US. Better that than have terrorists running about killing people? If you lose a few hours of your life waiting in an airport it is a small price to pay compared to someone being killed because terrorists have entered the country. Time for a reality check, you should get your priorities in order. Well done the USA.
Duncan, Salisbury, UK

I am an European and as I understand it, I will not be submitted to special registration programmes. Yet, I will not travel to the US as long as such programmes are applied to others. It is a matter of principle for me. In fact, there is nothing in the US that would made me accept such discrimination and I have little, if any understanding, for those who do.
Joaquim Soares, Stockholm, Sweden

Whilst added security checks are in themselves not a bad idea, I suggest that the way in which they are carried out will not be appropriate. As a white British female waiting at LAX for three hours for a connecting flight I was treated rudely and inappropriately by staff checking my documents due to my being born in Germany. My husband, who is of Asian origin, will never visit the States again after the essentially racial abuse he received last time. I feel sometimes that the American ideal of 'innocent until proven guilty' is not always adhered to at points of entry to the country.
KML, Southampton UK

I applaud the US for implementing these security measures. Other countries employ similar security checks and the US was lagging in that respect. Brazil is reacting emotionally.
Charles, Montreal, Canada

The US needs to get the balance right between security and further alienating the Muslim world
JB, London, UK
As a South African I was required to obtain a visa before travelling to the states on holiday. However due to the fact that I had lived in the Middle East (Egypt, Bahrain, Dubai) for a number of years before moving the UK, the interview turned into a fully-fledged interrogation lasting two hours! In the end it was only due to the friendships I made with US military personnel while in Bahrain, and reference letters from them that I finally got the visa.

Now if I had to endure all of that as a blonde haired, blue eyed, white gay man just because my work took me to the Middle East, I shudder to think what someone of Arab or Muslim descent would have to go through. The US needs to get the balance right between security and further alienating the Muslim world. If this system speeds things up, and people are treated as innocent until proven otherwise, I'm all for it.
JB, London, UK

No matter how justified the programme might be for the Americans, no matter how hard the American authorities want to convince the public that taking the fingerprints is not meant against anyone, generally the affected public feels that it is a sign of discrimination. At least I will feel this way, as long, as the same security measures are introduced to all people, regardless of whether they come from the visa waiver country or not.
Roman Majcher, Nowy Sacz, Poland

My brother had a stroke in March/April last year and I travelled to USA (Houston) to visit him. I have been living in the UK since 1982 and I was travelling on my British passport. I was subjected to a humiliation experience and was asked to register because I was born in Pakistan. The USA immigration asked me to wait in a "secured" area for six hours (after a 10 hours flight from London) without any facilities to buy anything to eat or drink. I was not allowed to use my mobile, so I could not inform my brother who was waiting outside for me. On my way back the USA airport security broke the lock of my bag to check and left a note saying that they would not even pay to replace my lock.
I would like to visit my brother again but not sure how would I be treated now. I also do not agree with the assumption that passengers with European passports would not have to register because I was travelling on my British passport.
Sarfraz Ahmad, Worcester Park, Surrey

The old system was bad enough
KE, Ilford, Essex
The old system was bad enough. I'm of Pakistani origin, born and brought up in the UK. At immigration in Miami last month I was asked where I was born, and then where my grandparents were born, to which I replied "Pakistan". I was then asked the purpose of my visits to Pakistan: I replied "holiday and visiting relatives". The next question was "Do you support any political causes there?" to which I said "No". The next comment was "You wouldn't tell me even if you did. Let's see how big a liar you are. I'll ask you again. Do you support any political causes there?" I did not respond. My visa and customs form were stamped and I was told I could pass through. If this is the kind of racist and religious intolerance visitors to the USA face now, I dread to think what things will be like in the future!
KE, Ilford, Essex

Although I am British I work in the Middle East, Canadian friends in a similar situation have found themselves virtually treated like criminals upon arrival at US airports. Does having a Middle East work permit now make us criminals?
Sue Pendleton, UK

Been to the US about six times on holiday, it is now off my list. Well done America, you have just lost my custom and put a major dent in the tourism industry.
Michael, Belfast

So Michael from Belfast is giving up on visiting the US. Well that's one more victory for the terrorist.
Tom Armstrong, Lewes, England

With more family in the US now than here in the UK and a potential visitor [not requiring working visa] I would be concerned if these measures were compulsory for all visitors. I am now disabled and my worry would be were I to be delayed and not get a connecting flight; wheelchair service left a lot to be desired when I last travelled, let alone having to go thru more security checks on arrival in the US.

I think it's a great idea. If you've got nothing to hide, then what's the problem! If anything can be done to stop terrorists and criminals from entering and leaving countries at will, then that can only be a good thing. The more checks the better, and well done the USA for having the temerity to introduce a scheme which should have been introduced here a long time ago. I think this scheme should be more widely used and why aren't they taking the fingerprints and photos of Europeans? Terrorists are just as likely to have false papers and living in England or France as coming from anywhere else. No more of this namby pamby civil liberties clap trap please!
Diana W, Croydon, UK

Although I have not been affected by new security measures - fingerprinting etc. - I must point out that my friends in America say they will willingly be fingerprinted and accept any delays just to keep there families and friends safe.
W P, Derbyshire, London

In December, I found that the airlines' suggested allowance of two hours to get to a connecting flight when arriving in Miami from overseas was barely enough time. The only reason I made my flight was the helpfulness of the security personnel when I showed them my boarding card and asked for help to get through the very long (and extremely slow) security checkpoints. When booking your overseas flight - plan for delays.
Dorey, Springfield. USA

I'm British but since I'm a Muslim too, I've been very reluctant to travel to the States for the last few years because of this since I know I'll be picked on because of my religion. I think lots of other people, and especially business travellers, will reconsider travelling to the States because of these checks and constant delays in the name of security.
B Patel, London, UK

Some delay is worth it for better security
Ann, London
Some delay is worth it for better security. Not a problem for those with nothing to hide. Why do not we bring it in here in the UK?
Ann, London

It often takes an hour to clear immigration in the US! I do not see how adding more arbitrary checks will either increase safety or lessen the time taken to pass through the airport. I have a H1B visa, and was already treated like a criminal when applying for it. I see the US are once again penalising people who are trying to trying to go about their business and stay within the law.
Steven Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

As a Dutch citizen (Passport holder) from Moroccan origin I have visited USA last summer under the new waiver program. I have been held at immigration and was taken apart where I was questioned, photographed and fingerprints were taken. This all was done on an inhuman manner, they could at least tell me why I was taken apart. I think security regulations should apply on all people and not using the ethnic profiling method.
Abdel, Amsterdam Netherlands

Bravo to Brazil....How about other affected countries follow the steps....
Prashant Vasha, Mumbai, India

Sours grapes on the Brazil's part. What right do these countries have to criticise how America tackles the problem of not wanting another 3000+ innocent people murdered? You would have thought that countries with citizens having to be fingerprinted, would be pleased that any terrorists using their countries as cover would be rooted out for them.
Rick, UK

So here we go again. Like we don't have enough delays going into the States eh? It takes long enough as it is and now they need more information to make sure we're not terrorists. For us this just means we're not visiting the USA as we can't be bothered with all this - so Europe and South America for our three trips for the year. So long Florida and Disney!
Davin George, London, UK

I support this action by the US and would like to see the UK follow suit. I would not mind having my photograph or fingerprints taken as I have nothing to hide. If this can help prevent the increase in terrorist attacks, then what is the problem?
Dave, London, UK

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18 Dec 02  |  Americas


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