EDITOR’S NOTE: This column appears in the Dec. 8, 2003, issue of National Review. Steyn’s column appears in NR regularly.
The other week, a reader of Britain’s Sunday Telegraph recounted a story. He’s a British army veteran, now a helicopter pilot, who fell in love with an American. He married her, and they chose to live in the United States. He applied for a green card, but–because of the length of time the government takes to process that application–was issued in the interim an “advance parole” that would allow him to move about and conduct his business.
In October, this gentleman’s wife had business at a trade fair in Guangzhou in southern China, and he decided to accompany her. On their return to LAX, he was informed that his “advance parole” had just expired, was handcuffed, fingerprinted, tossed in jail for 24 hours, and then told that he would be put on the first plane back to Guangzhou. Since his Chinese visa had expired, officials at Guangzhou would presumably put him on the first plane back to LAX, who would put him on the first plane back to Guangzhou, who would put him on the first plane back to LAX, and he would spend the rest of his life at 36,000 feet eating plastic food and watching Adam Sandler movies. Not our problem, said U.S. officials.
After some pleading, he was allowed to buy a $1,000 one-way ticket to London, where he is at present. He prefers to remain anonymous because he would like, one day, to see his wife and step-daughters again.
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