Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The state of a strange land

The story posted on Shakesville about a New Zealander who was deported from LAX has been getting some attention among New Zealand bloggers. It's a powerful tale:

I was taken to another room and given another search. This one (thankfully) did not put her hands anywhere near my groin, just my legs, arms and torso. And my shoes.

I was then taken back out to the main reception area, given a paper bag, and told to put all my valuables into it. Including my $2 mood ring, my $3 watch, and... my bootlaces. And anything else I was carrying of value - my wallet, my MP3 player, and the water and food that I had been given by the officers at LAX.

I didn't know why I had to put the bootlaces in the bag. I think that if I had asked, I would have been told that it was "for my safety". However, since I was only able to shuffle slowly around, I believe that it was a ploy to dehumanise the detainees further.

I recommend you read the whole thing.

But I want to point out that New Zealand has its own degrading, dehumanising, racist immigration system. I've watched a woman about to be deported saying goodbye to her boyfriend in a prison visiting room. For pacific island women visas can be contingent on negative pregnancy tests. If you were detained in a New Zealand prison prior to deportation (and people are) - the cold, the strip search, the lack of access to medication, the constant dehumanisation would be the same.