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Finally got around to it. C*nts.







Office of Governor Charlie Crist

State of Florida

The Capitol

400 S. Monroe St.

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001




4th May 2009



Dear Governor Crist



My name is John Murphy, I am 54 years old and live in the UK. For the last 20 years I have holidayed in the great state of Florida, my family and I are great fans . Our last trip was our 19th visit in 20 years, we calculate to have spent approximately $100000 in Florida during that time.



With regret I have to tell you our love affair with Florida ended on 24th March 2009 the day we arrived at Miami Airport on BA209. Accompanied by my wife and two teenage sons, we landed, went through to the arrivals lounge quite quickly and were looking forward to dropping our bags at The Miami International Airport Hotel, having dinner and spending the night before moving onto to our destination (Haines City) in the morning. The official on the passport desk was very friendly and polite albeit he was distracted whilst chatting to a colleague. Whilst processing our passports and visa waiver he made an error to which he freely admitted and apologised. It became apparent he had imposed my passport number onto my wife’s fingerprints (or vice versa), the system had rejected the passport and flagged some kind of alert.. He apologised again and took us to his colleague whom ‘he hoped’ would be able to sort things out. His colleague was unable to correct the error and from that moment on we endured five hours plus of total hell.


We were taken to a detention room, in it were over 100 people. When I protested we had done nothing wrong the reaction was shocking as I was shouted at and told to sit down at the back. We were all of us shouted at continuously throughout the ordeal, my son was screamed at and told to turn his phone off. My other son who was exhausted after an 11 hour flight was shouted at for putting his feet on a chair. Anybody standing up to stretch their legs was ordered to sit down and constantly reminded this was a Federal Detention room. The officers were eating subs and drinking cokes throughout, laughing and joking amongst themselves whilst continually treating people with a demeanour you would expect to be reserved for convicted criminals. It quickly became apparent that amongst the many innocent people in that room there were indeed suspected criminals, people were periodically marched out of the room by armed police returning some time later in handcuffs. For law abiding tourists who come to the U.S for a vacation the situation was surreal and not a little scary!!


An elderly British couple were getting so distressed my wife sat with them to keep them calm. The old man was 78 years old, his wife informed us they’d been there four hours, her husband was exhausted and both were becoming very stressed . We discovered that once eventually released they still had to collect a car from Alamo and drive on 100 miles,, this at 3.am., the old gentleman in particular was causing us much concern.








Throughout all this time there was no water in the water container, no access to food and just one unisex toilet with no lock on the door!! I heard comments that you’d not expect this in Albania much less America.


No explanation for detention was offered to anybody I spoke with or heard at the desk. The young man who had sat next to me on the plane sat near me in the detention centre. A Swiss national, he was released after 5 hours with no apology nor explanation. I sat next to a Canadian who had missed his connecting flight and was stranded. Eventually 5 hours detention he was released with no explanation much less an apology. I spotted one young girl in the morning, wandering around the airport with her two year old son, same story, no explanation, she had missed her connecting flight and was desperately trying to get home, with an infant at her side, both had slept at the airport and were stranded!



Periodically Miami policemen came into the room escorting people in handcuffs whilst the boys on the desk shouted encouragement. It was all highly unpleasant and threatening, as if we were now criminals and would be treated as such until ‘Washington cleared us for entry’ Every European I spoke with told the same story, they were detained because the Homeland Security entry system was flawed and once a mistake had been made it could not be easily and quickly rectified.


At 4a.m we were getting pretty desperate, one officer in particular was extremely rude and cocky. His arrogance was tangible, a very big man, a white male around 30 years of age, he and I were to clash. Eventually when there were but 8 people left he summonsed my wife to his desk as you would call a child or a dog, with a dismissive ‘come here‘ hand gesture. They went into another room where his superior asked my wife how long we had been held. When he discovered it was for over five hours he glared accusingly at this individual before telling him to ‘get it sorted’. It would appear had the ability to ‘sort it’ quickly after all and didn’t have to ‘wait for Washington’ as previously declared.


He summonsed me and my two sons over to his desk and completed the paperwork. He told me there was a chance we’d waited perhaps too long and maybe could have been dealt with a bit quicker. The closest we ever got to an apology, and even that was only because his superior had turned up and expressed displeasure at 5 hour detention.. I told him very politely that we had been treated appallingly and that I would be writing to the British Consulate. His mood changed and his demeanour became very menacing. He asked me to ‘forget for one minute I’m a police officer’, (difficult when he’s 6’4”, 30 years old, 20 stone and has a handgun on his belt but I digress) ’let’s you and me sort this out ‘man to man’.


I informed him there was no way he was going to treat my family this way and there be no repercussions. At this point he became very agitated, I feared I may be arrested and put in a cell, or worse, I felt physically threatened and very vulnerable. Incredibly he claimed he’d experienced exactly the same thing when he’d visited London (A statement I didn’t believe for one minute). I told him that a bad experience in the UK didn’t excuse the way we had been treated, and we parted company with him snarling at me and muttering under his breath. We finally reached our hotel room at 5.30 am, everything was closed , we had gone six hours without a drink and frankly at that point were looking to see if we could get a flight back to the U.K. In the end we calmed down and went off to enjoy our holiday as best we can.


The way Miami customs are treating innocent tourists will have an derogatory effect on U.S. tourism. Subsequent research and the sheer numbers in that room would suggest this is not an isolated case it is endemic and is surely being repeated every day at Miami. I am afraid it will be some time before we return, my wife is adamant she will never go to Florida again, she may calm down. I hope so.


Yours sincerely




John Murphy

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