I am currently back in the UK and trying to sort out the various disasters that have been caused by my being unable to enter the USA. It is a long job, but I think I’m through all the important email now so here’s a status update.
1. Thank you so much for all of the messages of support.
2. Contrary to much of the speculation, this has little to do with anti-terror legislation and the like. It has been caused mainly by the fact that US immigration is the provenance of two separate government organizations — the State Department and Customs & Border Patrol — and in my case they don’t appear to have communicated very well.
3. As I result I appear to have inadvertently contravened the regulations, and therefore I will never again be able to use the visa waiver program. Nothing can be done about this.
4. The chances of my getting a visa are approximately equal to my chances of winning a lottery, because at my age, with my job skills, being able to invest a substantial amount of money in the US is the only way I am likely to get a visa. Just like any other country, the US grants visas to people who will be good for their economy, not for other reasons.
5. I would like to thank the two CBP officers who dealt with my case. They were particularly understanding, and it can’t have been easy for them to deal with someone who was in floods of tears much of the time. They are not to blame for this mess – they had no choice but to deport me.
6. Online outrage, letter writing campaigns and the like will not have any positive effect on my situation, so please don’t waste your time and energy.
7. The knock-on effect of this is unclear, but judging from the scowl and furious typing that greeted my arrival at passport control in the UK my status as an international criminal is already attached to my passport number and winging its way around the world. I don’t think this will stop me traveling in Europe, but it may mean that I am unable to visit New Zealand or Australia without a full-blown visa, which will make the Worldcon trip vastly more expensive and complicated.
8. Various people have been asking what they can do to help. As far as the US stuff goes, unless you happen to have the President’s private phone number there’s probably nothing you can do. However, I am currently homeless. I have places I can go in the short term, but I do need a long-term fix for this so recommendations as to places to live in the UK would be appreciated. The chances are I will be unable to rent anywhere in my own right. I am also going to need help with various sfnal projects that I have underway and will now be unable to run as effectively because I can’t travel, but that’s a subject for another post.
Update: I now have somewhere to stay for the next week, which is a big relief. I can now start looking at a more long-term solution.
Also please note that I don’t need money. Or rather, I need money in much larger quantities than you kind folks could possibly supply, so I’m not asking for anything other than suggestions as to where I can rent crash space.