Sometimes, I wonder why members of Congress display so little common sense. Then I remember what it was like to work for them.
In an astute move displaying superlative wisdom and unparalleled foresight, Congress has voted to levy a $14 tax on all foreign travelers who do not require a formal visa to visit the United States. The poor schmucks who already have to shell out their life savings and endure being treated like criminals in order to visit America will no longer be the only ones suffering. Now travelers who do not require a visa to visit the U.S. will have to pay the new fee when they register for their visa waiver online through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Who says the U.S. doesn’t look to other countries for guidance, right Australia?
Members of Congress, who overwhelming supported the $14 fee, claim the new surcharge will lead to tourist boon in America, thanks to slick advertising that will "drawer in the furiners" in droves. I think it will turn people away.
And the sad thing is that all the money won’t even be going toward promoting U.S. tourism. Die Abteilung der Heimatsicherheit, aka Department of Homeland Security–the US government arm that treats visiting foreigners and other passengers at US airports as if they are criminals–is going to be taking $4 out of the $14 fee. Labeled an "administrative fee", the $4 will in large part be used to subsidize DHS and TSA so they can hassle passengers even more than they already do.
There is a temporary reprieve. Those still planning a trip to the US as nationals of countries whose citizens can use ESTA (instead of going to a US consulate/embassy for a US visa), should apply for the ESTA on or before September 7th here.
It’s bad enough that guests to the U.S. are treated like criminals. Now you have to pay for such a privilege.