Thursday, September 18, 2003
Stupid, self-important bureaucrats: An article in today's San Diego Union-Tribune recounts some gross stupidity by the immigration service that should result in some firings. In short, the wife of a Navy sailor, and her 8 1/2-month-old American daughter, was detained for several days after returning from her native Australia.
"They didn't listen," she said, during a telephone interview from a holding facility at the Los Angeles International Airport.
"They said 'Sit down and be quiet. We don't care what you say. We're sending you back.' "
Confusion quickly turned to panic.
When she asked to call her husband, immigration officials said, 'No, you don't have any rights,' " she said.
Her daughter was hungry and getting sick, the mother said. The infant's eyes were running, her forehead was clammy-hot with fever and she hadn't had a bottle in hours.
She cradled the baby and looked again to a detention officer for help, asking for water to mix baby formula.
"They asked me if I had money to buy the water," she said, explaining she had Australian currency and 65 cents in U.S. change.
"Oh, my God, I couldn't believe they wouldn't give me water for my baby," Vetter said.
Finally, she said, an agent whom Vetter described as "the only one who cared," gave her a bottle of water.
Although they hadn't talked, Rob Vetter, 30, learned of her situation when he went to pick up his wife and daughter at the airport.
"They told me I couldn't talk to her, that she had no rights to see me," he said. Finally, he said, a sympathetic airport medical technician told him they had been moved to a nearby clinic, where he could find them.
There, he talked with his wife, who by then was getting sick with a sinus and ear infection. Rob Vetter said that when immigration authorities intervened, he asked to take his child home.
"She's an American citizen. You have no right to keep her," Vetter said he told an official.
Pete Gordon, interim assistant director for the Los Angeles customs office of Immigration and Border Protection, said they wanted Vetter to take his daughter but he said no.
"What we were told by him is he would have a problem with day care and couldn't take the child," Gordon said.
Lessee, a bureaucrat or the baby's father, who am I going to believe on this one?
Oh, and what about the treatment of the child at the hands of some incredibly stupid bureaucrats?
The next day, Petty Officer Vetter said he was able to leave with his daughter, whom he took to the San Diego Naval Medical Center, where she was treated for dehydration and an ear infection.
Dehydration? They've got to treat a baby for dehydration because some moron feels important by denying the mother water to mix formula for the child?
Heads need to roll.