For the first time in ten years of living in America, I was brought back to the infamous little room at customs. The room I have seen many people disappear to, escorted by immigration officers, and not many return from.
Contents of the little room:
Two computers on two desks, with the officers sitting behind them.
In between them a folder holder. Which contained different folders in different colors. My passport was in one of them. I was seated on one of the chairs in the waiting area, which faced these two computers as if we were in a theatre. The performance was rather stern. One of the officers asked a woman from Venezuela multiple times whether she had ever applied for a visa. Her answer remained no. He kept asking.
The waiting room was filled with people, most of them under thirty years old. Most of them from Africa and South America. They had obviously been sitting there for a while.
After about fifteen minutes an officer came from another room and looked at the folder with my passport. He asked me some questions and disappeared again. The rest of the people in the waiting room were silent. Calm even. As if they had been expecting this. As if they woke up every morning knowing something like this would happen.
The officer came out again, asked me some more questions, handed me my passport, and sent me on my way.
The others might still be sitting there; I didn’t see any of them behind me when I walked through the sliding doors.

Copyright Judith Goudsmit