Unaware to most Americans, the United States implemented the Electronic System for Travel Authorization as a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, which restricts non-overland travel to the United States for all countries except Canada, Bermuda, Marshall Islands, and Micronesia. It is claimed to improve our security, but in reality this is completely false. Over 99% of applications are approved in no time, and people are required to apply at least 72 hours in advance. The pass fortunately lasts for the validity of the passport, but it still does make it less convenient for people from highly developed and safe countries to come to the United States. This has been used since January 12, 2009, 8 days before George W. Bush left office.
Other countries have since adopted similar policies at the pressure of the United States, particularly Canada on 10 November 2016, one year after Harper left office (notice a pattern yet?), Australia adopted it on 27 October 2008, one year after John Howard left office (definitely a coincidence), and ETIAs will be implemented in Europe in 2021, 2 years after EPP suffered a crushing defeat at the polls, and most countries will have national elections.
Also, you can still come to the United States visa free from all of these countries, as long as you travel to Mexico first. If ESTA is really designed to screen all passengers to protect us from camera wielding, towel carrying German tourists, it’s doing a terrible job at it.
Maybe it is just a coincidence that right wing governments want to implement restrictions of the freedom of movement, but far enough in the future that they will likely not be in office to see the coincidences of their actions until it becomes the new normal. They claim it is for the safety of the nation, with an utter lack of terrorist attacks from the targeted countries, but they absolutely refuse to implement it before their sorry booties are kicked out of office.
This is because their claims that these new visa programs improve safety are absolutely rubbish. It is as true as all of the lies which the Tories in the UK have been saying about Brexit. The problem for the Tories is Brexit is such an extreme level of economic destruction which they are currently causing that the true intentions of their isolationist policies are obvious to all but the most blind. The flaw in their plan is they managed to stay in government for its impact and will feel the full brunt of their evil.
If these pre-clearance programs really improved safety, they would be implemented quickly. If they really improved safety, they would have a lower approval rate than 100% (with a rounding error). If they really improved safety, they would have no loopholes.
This program targeting German tourists was implemented in reaction to the 9/11 attacks. The one country which has NOT had any consequences from the 9/11 attacks is still Saudi Arabia. 15/19 hijackers on 9/11/2011 were from Saudi Arabia, and the United States has done literally nothing to restrict access from that religious fundamentalist state which is the only country to successfully attack American soil since before my grandmother was born. If they really wanted to protect America from countries which have actually attacked the United States we wouldn’t target Germany, we would target citizens of Saudi Arabia.
The US, Canada, Australia, and EU need to wake up, improve travel between our countries, implement real visa-free tourism for the countries in these programs, and pursue real policies which make us safe.
The ESTA is not a policy which keeps us safe. It actually puts us in more danger by making travel more difficult. People to people connections foster peace through trade, which is the only time tested proven way towards a world which has less war. People got used to being able to travel freely between free countries, and fascists could not increase real visas between our countries during the brief era of free travel reciprocity we enjoyed in the 2000s. They are chipping away at this freedom piece by piece, moving us closer to war. The first step of this was the PATRIOT ACT, which was the first chipping away at our freedom of movement. The next step is to increase the cost of it until it is as much as a regular tourist visa, and their goal of alienating us from each other will be far harder to reverse. We reached a level of peace in the 1990s relative to any other time in history so deep, with so many economic and travel connections between countries, that it would take at least 50 years to get us back to the military dominated society with major European nations going to war with each other, feeding the military industrial complexes with that racket with our tax payer dollars against our will, chipping away at our freedoms through voter restrictions, travel barriers, and economic restrictions which funnel money from the majority of people to the modern aristocracy. They will not get the level of war they want until they succeed by ending free travel.
We must end these expensive, disruptive, divisive, and alienating policies and move in the opposite direction towards policies which bring us together as a world and increase connections between the people of all nations. This is how we have peace, this is how we have prosperity. We need economic policies which move individuals towards economic prosperity for all, and increase the expansion of science, communication, and bridges between all peoples of the world. The Bush administration did everything they could to move us from this dream, and it is now up to us to undo their damage to our country.
The easiest first step towards the liberal dream is to kill ESTA and replace it with true visa-free travel.