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New regulations not welcomed by international travelers
New regulations concerning those entering the United States have recently gone into effect, angering people around the world, especially in Pakistan and Malaysia. The new regulations require that people from selected Arab and Muslim nations register upon arrival to the U.S.
To complete the registration requirements, the US Immigration and Naturalization Service will fingerprint, photograph and question those arriving and then use the prints and photos against criminal and terrorist databases. The U.S. government says the new requirements are to prevent further terrorist attacks against the US and make it more difficult for potential terrorists to stay unnoticed on US soil, as the Sept. 11 hijackers did.
However, other governments don’t see it the same way. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed recently told international reporters that the new regulations represented “anti-Muslim hysteria” in the United States. Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman offered similar remarks. He said it was unfair, especially since his country offered a great deal of support for the U.S.-led “War on Terror.”
All citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Sudan will be targeted along with visitors from other Muslim and Middle Eastern nations entering the US.
Furthermore, other nations are upset because the U.S. Justice Department has issued a directive that anyone who has visited the Middle East, Cuba, North Korea or North Africa on more than a couple occasions could be taken aside for questioning if they lack, what the Justice Department calls, a credible explanation for these trips. The measures, which were recently applied across the nation, could potentially apply to any of the 35 million foreign visitors who enter the US each year.
Mahathir was very upset with the latest American actions.
“Because of the acts of a few people, the whole Muslim world seems to have been labeled,” he told the international press.
The new regulations have hit close to home for Mahathir since his deputy, Ahmad Abdullah Badawi, was asked to remove his belt and shoes at a Los Angeles airport before being permitted to continue his trip to New York on Sept. 16.
Although the regulations are new, the practice of taking Middle Eastern and North African visitors to one side upon entering the US is not. The major change is that now those aged 16-45 and deemed an “elevated security risk” will be formally registered by the authorities. After the registration, the visitors will have thirty days to report whether they are living, working or studying in the United States.
Many experts agree that it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the U.S. to keep up with their new protocol since there are more than 350 air and sea ports, not to mention land boarders, to survey.