orget no-fly lists. If Uncle Sam gets its
way, beginning on Jan. 14, 2007, we'll all be on no-fly lists,
unless the government gives us permission to leave-or
re-enter-the United States.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (HSA) has proposed that
all airlines, cruise lines-even fishing boats-be required to
obtain clearance for each passenger they propose taking into or
out of the United States.
It doesn't matter if you have a U.S. Passport - a "travel
document" that now, absent a court order to the contrary, gives
you a virtually unqualified right to enter or leave the United
States, any time you want. When the DHS system comes into effect
next January, if the agency says "no" to a clearance request, or
doesn't answer the request at all, you won't be permitted to
enter-or leave-the United States.
Consider what might happen if you're a U.S. passport holder on
assignment in a country like Saudi Arabia. Your visa is about to
expire, so you board your flight back to the United States. But
wait! You can't get on, because you don't have permission from
the HSA. Saudi immigration officials are on hand to escort you
to a squalid detention center, where you and others who are now
effectively "stateless persons" are detained, potentially
indefinitely, until their immigration status is sorted out.
Why might the HSA deny you permission to leave-or enter-the
United States? No one knows, because the entire clearance
procedure would be an administrative determination made
secretly, with no right of appeal. Naturally, the decision would
be made without a warrant, without probable cause and without
even any particular degree of suspicion. Basically, if the HSA
decides it doesn't like you, you're\ a prisoner - either
outside, or inside, the United States, whether or not you hold a
The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized there is a
constitutional right to travel internationally. Indeed, it has
declared that the right to travel is "a virtually unconditional
personal right." The United States has also signed treaties
guaranteeing "freedom of travel." So if these regulations do go
into effect, you can expect a lengthy court battle, both
nationally and internationally.
Think this can't happen? Think again. It's ALREADY happening.
Earlier this year, HSA forbade airlines from transporting an
18-year-old a native-born U.S. citizen, back to the United
States. The prohibition lasted nearly six months until it was
finally lifted a few weeks ago. Nazi Germany and the Soviet
Union are two countries in recent history that didn't allow
their citizens to travel abroad without permission. If these
regulations go into effect, you can add the United States to
For more information on this proposed regulation, see