Posted by on January 7, 2019 1:00 am
Categories: µ Newsjones

Being asked to ‘step this way’ at JFK was a reminder of how privileged I am to be a white woman with a British passport

I flew back to the US from London last week, and after waiting for two hours at immigration I stood by as the officer frowned at my documents. My children’s US passports had been scanned without a problem. But looking at my green card, the officer asked: “Was this lost or stolen in the last year?” As it happens, it was. “Then I’m sorry,” he said, glancing down at my three-year-olds. After a seven-hour flight and all that waiting in line, they were doing breaststroke across the JFK floor. “You’ll have to step this way.”

I have heard about the Congratulations, You Have Problems With Your Paperwork room at JFK, but until that moment had never actually seen it. It is a small, windowless room dominated by a raised bank of desks, behind which six or so officers sit, with several more patrolling the room. “No cellphones,” snapped a woman as I knelt on the floor, restraining a child with one hand while trying to text the cab driver waiting for us outside with the other.

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