Visitors to U.S. Face Increased Detention Danger

May 16, 2008 06:00 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
Heightened Homeland Security measures are highlighted by the case of an Italian man detained in a Virginia jail for 10 days with no charges or representation.

30-Second Summary

The New York Times reports that Italian lawyer Domenico Salerno was held without charges or legal representation for more than 10 days in a rural Virginia jail after being refused entry into the United States by a Customs and Border Protection agent at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Salerno’s case came to the attention of the Times after his American girlfriend, Caitlin Cooper, wrote an e-mail saying, “an innocent European, who has never broken any laws, committed any crimes, or overstayed his visa, is being held in a county jail.”

The incident is an extreme case of foreign tourists being treated unfairly due to heightened Homeland Security measures following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The International Herald Tribune reported in December 2007 that an Icelandic woman was arrested and detained at New York’s JFK airport after officials discovered she’d overstayed a U.S. visa more than a decade prior.

In 2005, a reporter for British newspaper The Guardian was detained for 26 hours in Los Angeles after officials discovered she did not have a journalist’s visa. A similar law had been in place in 1952, and was revived after Sept. 11.

Unfair detentions and general rudeness of U.S. Customs officials is deterring tourists from visiting the United States, according to an April 2007 study by the Discover America Partnership. The study found the United States to be “the world’s most unfriendly destination for foreign travelers.”

Headline Links: Foreigners face increased, often arbitrary security

Background: Tourists avoiding hassle of U.S. travel

Related Topics: Other tourists detained

Opinion & Analysis: ‘The snarl at the border’


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