2,000 cruise ship passengers forced to give fingerprints, retina scans to US customs
Matt Gratz, Political Fail Blog
Cruise passengers tell of seven-hour security ‘revenge’ nightmare
I have been on many cruises with my family over the years, and I have never once had to give my finger print or had a machine scan my eye to let me into any country. But according to The Telegraph, 2000 passengers on board the luxury P&O liner Arcadia, were forced to give biometric identification to US officials at the port of Los Angeles.
It all started when a group of passengers questioned whether the lengthy security checks at the port were necessary for a group of mostly elderly tourists. Officials at the L.A. cruise port became angry at the passengers for questioning their authority and decided to take it a step further.
Even though the passengers had already visited 10 other ports in the US, the officials decided to lash out at the group, by forcing all 2,000 people to to go through full security checks that lasted over 7 hours, including taking finger prints and retina scans.
The Telegraph reports:
The fingerprints of both hands were taken as well as retina scans and a detailed check of the passport as well as questioning as to their background.
Passengers claim that the extra checks were carried out in “revenge” for what had been a minor spat over allegedly overzealous security. They complain that they were “herded like animals” and made to stand for hours in temperatures up to 80F with no food or water or access to lavatories.
Some are said to have passed out in the heat while others were left confused and bewildered. When one lady asked in desperation whether she could use a bathroom, one immigration official is said to have replied: “Do it over the side, we won’t mind.”
To compound the situation, the officials’ computer broke down and further delays resulted.
Ovioulsy this extra security was not needed, and obviously it was a violation of human rights. The immigration officials at this port acted on personal emotions and went out side of the law to get personal revenge on an elderly group of tourists who questioned whether or not the extra security was necessary. These officers abused their positions and should be fired.
On another hand, this could have been practice. Just yesterday we learned that the TSA is working on a “Fast Track” system for “trusted” flyers who are on a government biometric data base. Now these “trusted” flyers will be able to skip most of the “enhanced security” at US airports by using a retina scanner at the airport, that is connected to a government biometric database. So now if you don’t want to be molested or microwaved, you can just let them scan your eyes. I feel safer already.
The article goes on to say:
“There were about 2,000 people on the quayside with only eight immigration people.
“They were just doing basic checks to begin with but after the argument we had to do full finger prints on left and right hands and all the biometric stuff.
“Then their computer system broke down but no one was bothered about helping us.
“A couple of people struggled to control their bladders and someone said they’d suffered a prolapsed disc.”
He emphasized that he did not blame the liner for difficulties, but in a letter to the captain he vented his feelings about the immigration procedures adding: “We are holiday makers, here to try and enjoy ourselves – we are not potential inmates of Guantanamo Bay, and should not be treated as such.”