Immigration law costs Arizona hotels a bundle

The cost of closing down the borders may be higher than you think. At least, that’s what the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association is saying. Tourists have cut back their visits to the state, the association believes, because of the recent controversial immigration law. Tourism and travel companies claim they’ve lost millions of dollars because of how the state is being perceived.

According to ABC 15 in Arizona:

“I think any time there’s something controversial that would even cause a group to think there’s something negative it’s an easy choice when you have so many other destinations to choose from,” said Debbie Johnson, President and CEO of the association.

Of course, there are claims that the economy – not immigration laws – is responsible for the drop in Arizona tourism business, and to a certain extent, this is true. Some hotels have sustained 40 percent drops in call activity, and hotels are saying that some groups are backing out of tentative bookings because of the immigration law.

[photo by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr]

No room at the inn: hotels used to house illegal immigrants

Immigrants awaiting deportation may find themselves in a hotel – provided they are not violent and don’t have any sort of criminal history. The check-in program is intended to cut the cost of holding immigrants before they are deported. Last year, the United States spent $2 billion on sheltering immigrants that would eventually be sent out of the country.

So, will it work?

The cost to detain illegal immigrants in “alternative” facilities (hotels and nursing homes, which are also included in the plan) is estimated to be $14 a day – compared to more than $100 a day to detain them in jails and prisons.

What’s not clear is how this will affect the occupancy rates in hotels near the border. If all goes well, this could be exactly what an ailing hotel industry needs.

Good luck card results in deportation of Mexican immigrant

In a tragic case of “serves you right”, a Mexican immigrant arrived at Manchester airport in the UK for what he described to immigration officials as “a brief trip to visit a friend”.

When immigration workers checked his bag, they discovered a card, wishing the man lots of luck with his “new life” in the UK.

After some more interrogation, the man admitted he planned to settle in the UK an eventually fly his family over.


If you plan to lie at the immigration desk (don’t), at least make sure your story can be verified, and don’t carry evidence of your lies in your suitcase.

The 40 year old man was sent back to the United States, since that was his country of departure. Fingers crossed for him that he was here legally, or his troubles will be continuing for some time.

Visting the US? Remember to register with ESTA before you leave!

If you live in one of the countries participating in the US Visa Waiver program, pay attention, as things just got a little more complicated for you.

As of January 12th 2009, all visitors to the US who are eligible for the visa waiver program will have to apply for travel authorization at least 72 hours prior to their trip.

There are 35 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), and if you have ever come to the US on the VWP, you’ll have probably filled in one of those annoying green forms on your flight here.

Those days are now officially over, and the US Government wants to know who is coming here, before they get on the plane.

Statistics from the Department of Homeland Security claim that 99.6% of all people who apply for travel permission get it granted within seconds, which still leaves a fairly decent amount of people who do not get it, for any number of reasons.

The new authorization system is called ESTA – Electronic System for Travel Authorization. The site is available in 16 different languages. To apply for permission to fly to the US, you enter all your personal information, passport data, and flight numbers. You then get to answer the same questions you probably remember from the VWP form, which are there to determine whether you are a Nazi, drug dealer or other nasty kind of person.
If all works out, and you are not on a terrorist watch list, you’ll receive an authorization number. If the system declines your request, you’ll be required to apply for a regular visa through your local US Consulate or Embassy, which will most certainly take some time, so be sure you don’t wait too long!

Of course, as with all new systems like this, there are going to be some glitches, but the most worrying statistic is that far too many people had not heard of the new rules, and arrive at the airport unprepared. Thankfully, the US government has allowed for a short grace period.

The hardest hit are going to be people without Internet access as there is no offline application process. There will be no terminals at the airport, and people in a VWP country who arrive at the airport without an ESTA authorization number may be denied boarding.

Once you register for ESTA, the authorization is valid for 2 years, or the life of your passport (whichever is shorter). As with all international travel, you will need at least 6 months duration left on your passport if you want authorization.

The official ESTA site can be found here, just make sure you don’t fall for the tricks of paid services like, who’ll do “all the hard work” for you, for a mere $249!

Green card holder? Be prepared for fingerprinting at the airport!

As part of the US-VISIT program, designed to protect the country from terrorism and other threats, US Permanent Residents will soon have to subject to fingerprinting when they enter the country through an immigration checkpoint. The new rules go into effect on January 18th 2009.

The scheme is already in place for non permanent residents and other visitors, but it is the first time it has been expanded to permanent residents.

Fingerprinting Green card holders is quite strange, because part of the process of becoming a permanent resident involves an FBI background check and a pretty intensive fingerprinting procedure.

Of course, the fingerprinting could also be a way of ensuring the person entering the country with a Green card actually is who they say they are. It could also simply mean that the records stored within the government systems are such a mess, that they can’t do any reliable matching against terrorist records.

The next step in US-VISIT could be a little more scary, as the Department of Homeland Security claims there are “not currently” any plans to start fingerprinting US citizens when they re-enter the country, but I suspect that is probably not very far away.

(Via: Cnet)