Barred from the US

The USA’s new ESTA border system came into force today… and unusually for the web-savvy US government, the website is almost impossible to find. Google doesn’t show it, there are no links on the information site. They really, really don’t want anyone to visit the USA any more.

It’s in keeping with the new world order led by Bush and former PM Blair: you’re bad unless proven good, we suspect everyone, submit to endless checks so we can maintain control over you. Register on the web before you travel, just another little administrative hoop to jump through. All with the objective of making sure we never forget who exerts power over us.

There’s just one problem: the system disallows passports with over ten years between issue and expiry. In other words, if (like me) you renewed a 10-year passport a few months before the old one expired, you are no longer able to travel to the USA.

Doubtless it’ll be fixed, and I’m not planning any US travel, but this is just another illustration of how rigid and leeway-less the USA has become. (At least they’re equal-opportunity discriminators; my pal down the corridor, a white girl from Wisconsin, got searched last time she visited home…)

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