It seems we have to go to overseas sites to get some our news. An artical from the Philippines
Imagine how the Statue of Liberty, that New York
landmark that supposedly embodies the noblest spirit of a New World that opened its doors to émigrés from all over, must be looking these days, if its concrete countenance could but reflect its sadness.
Imagine that it can stare back at hundreds of sailors from the Philippines
or some other poor country who, having been denied shore leave by yet only the latest in a series of United States government’s flouting of international practice, now stare forlorn at New York
harbor, seeing the city that never sleeps but not setting foot on it.
This is the image painted in a New York Times story, and carried on our front page yesterday, to describe the impact of misguided policies of homeland security
on thousands of innocent civilians from around the world.
The sailors, most of whom work nonstop aboard ships for six to 10 months, cherish such precious opportunity to go on shore even for at least one day, the story said. Yet even that has been denied them now, thanks to unreasonably strict new visa requirements that neither they nor their employers can meet. The Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey
estimates that at least 1,000 sailors were denied shore leave in just over a week in nine American ports
. Imagine the overall human cost.
The port chaplains and advocates of seamen’s rights complain that the right to shore leave is enshrined in centuries of maritime law, as well as a convention of the International Maritime Organization. The United States has ratified the convention, but according to an advocate interviewed by the New York Times, it is one of a few countries requiring visas for shore leave. A visa costs $100, so why should a sailor earning on average $250 to $300 a month shell out that amount, with the risk of rejection or not being able to wait out the post 9/11 backlogs in visa applications? A big gamble, obviously.
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security
, explaining the new, tighter rules, said that in a post 9/11 world, “we need to be very careful who is able to enter the United States.” Indeed. Except that, when you look back at the background of the 19 suicide hijackers of 9/11, you realize they got visas so easily and were backed up by tens of thousands of dollars in expense accounts, and had done a lot of globe-trotting, enough to enable them to come off as cosmopolitan travelers who would never invite suspicion. It takes a certain kind of mental set, years of training and brainwashing and being steeped in some lifestyle, to pull off the kind of big-time terrorism as 9/11. Not to mention lots of money
. That should be clear by now to US authorities, unless they think a humble sailor from some Philippine province, with his $200 and his limited experience, can do something similar. Weird.
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