Eschatology: When Customs Reads Your Facebook Messages

“[Jana H.] organized her own au pair exchange. She found a nice family for which she was supposed to live and work as an au pair.

In exchange for an agreed-upon allowance, Jana was supposed to take care of the kids. On the side, she wanted to take an English course. She had regular contact with the father of her host family-to-be via Facebook.

After the newly graduated Jana finally landed in the US, she was taken aside at passport control and questioned. The officers wanted to know the reasons for her entry into the US and how long she wanted to stay.

False Answers

Jana was prepared for these questions. She wanted to visit friends of her parents and take an English course. Was she sure about that? the officers asked. Yes, she was sure. Was she really sure about that?

Finally the officers laid out a printed copy of Jana’s entire Facebook correspondence with the father of the host family. Their accusation: Jana wanted to work illegally in the US. Evidently the agencies had intercepted Jana’s private correspondence for weeks. Jana was denied entry and sent back to Germany on the next plane.

This was not a one-time occurrence. Other young people, including one who intended to do an internship on a horse farm, similarly found their plans dashed by intercepted Facebook correspondence.”

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