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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

May 13, 2005

9/11: What a difference a day makes

Filed under Back in the USA

Yesterday I flew from Frankfurt to Cincinnati to attend the annual UCG conference. Fellow elder Alfred Riehle was on the same flight. Alfred is a German citizen, and I am American, so we went separate ways when we reached U.S. immigration at the Cincinnati airport.

I took my place in one of the three open lines for U.S. citizens, and Alfred went to the other side of the room to join the already long line of foreigners. I was fairly close to the front of my line, so it took about ten minutes for me to get through immigration. And my one checked bag came up quickly, so about 25 minutes after our plane had parked at the gate I was ready to leave the customs area.

However, Alfred and I had arranged that I would wait for him in the customs area so we could leave together and proceed to our pick-up point for the trip to our hotel. For those foreigners it was slow going. They came out in a veritable trickle. 30 minutes after I collected my suitcase I took a seat at a table and began to proofread a new booklet – might as well make use of my time, I thought.

"Lo and behold!", a few minutes later I saw my friends Carmelo Anastasi and Angelo de Vita, who had arrived 30 minutes prior to us on a flight from Rome. Carmelo and Angelo are elders from Italy attending the same conference. It turns out they were already in line when our plane arrived. They collected their luggage and Carmelo translated for some distraught compatriots who could not find their luggage. We chatted and then Alfred came out, about one hour after I had passed through U.S. immigration.

With the heightened security following the 9/11 attacks, foreigners entering the U.S. without a passport that meets new guidelines have to be fingerprinted and have their photo taken. The European Union was unable to meet the deadline for issuing new passports that meet the requirements, so EU citizens go through this process as well. And since the EU most likely will not meet the requirements for some time, its citizens will endure this procedure for months to come.

Just wait until I come back during the peak summer season with some friends from Germany who will attending a United youth camp!

Compared to those directly involved in the fight against terrorism, the inconvenience is a small price to pay to make travel safer. What a difference a day makes!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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