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Its official. America is now a police state!

By GuruOfDos ·
Summarising the background as quickly as possible for those who don't know: Me Brit. Wife American. Live in UK. Have 4 month old baby.

Wife has two children from her 'previous' life, 14 and 15, both have been resident (adopted, even) by wife's parents since birth. As wife's parents have needed help from the state (NY) with benefits, NY state decided to take wife to court last year for back support.

No issue with this....a parent is obliged to support her children. I do with my children from my former marriage.

But....the judge decreed $50 a month and backdated the support to 19** and the arrears instantly total $7500 odd.

The court order states payments from now on of $50 a month ongoing, plus $25 a month towards the arrears. Not much, but it's based on my wifes income which is precicely zero. The law states that the minimum support is $50 a month, whether you have $50 a month or not!

Here's the deal. At arrears of $450, they revoke your recreation and drivers permits. No problem there...she had her NY licence revoked years ago and now has a full UK drivers Licence which they can't touch. Above $500, the account is handed over to the IRS so that they can intercept Federal and State tax returns and refunds. No problem there...she doesn't pay taxes in the US or live there anymore! They also report to credit agencies....fine, but US and UK agencies do not have common files or share information. Her credit is good here at 'home'.

Now, should the arrears exceed $5000, which they do (did I mention they slapped her with $7500 instantly?!!), they then automatically notify the US State Department and prevent renewal of or application for a passport. Not only that but if you attempt to enter or leave the USA, your passport will be taken from you there and then. The idea being, to prevent you skipping the country if you owe support.

So....we want to visit family in NY. I'm a Brit and can come or go as I please for 90 days on an IA-94 visa waiver...I have a machine readable UK passport. Our daughter is also British and the same rules apply. The wife however, will have her passport revoked the minute she sets foot off the plane. She has nowhere to live over there (the parents don't have room), no job, no belongings other than what she can carry on a plane, and no money to speak of. I'd then have to return to the UK with my daughter.

Now the US government's idea is that by detaining her in the country and preventing her from leaving, she will somehow 'magically' be able to pay off her support. Meanwhile I have to return to the UK, minus one wife and mother. The fact that I'm paying off the arrears...stipulated by the court at $25 a month some $75 a month (I'm not made of money...I have to pay my own support and support 'my' family!) is neither here nor there. If she was 'detained' (trapped would be a better term), I'd then have to come back, and funnel what I'm paying towards HER support obligation, AND SOME, into childcare for my daugther while her mother is unable to return to the UK.

Does it not make logical sense that someone residing abroad, and who IS complying with (and bettering) the court order should be allowed to travel freely and return to their home, rather than prevent her returning and actually LESSEN her ability to have her support paid by me??!!!

I have tried EVERY source I can find and even telephoned the CSE agency and State Department in the US, and no one can find any rule or law that covers this scenario.

It seems we have two options....either wait to travel until the arrears are cleared (5-6 years maybe?!!) OR she has to apply for British Citizenship (which she is eligible for as she is married to a Brit and has been resident here for over three years). That takes time and costs about ?214 (US$350)...perhaps 8-10 months for naturalisation then another month for a British Passport.

When she does finally get a British Passport, because it will not be biometric (the UK won't introduce those until at least 2006) she will have to apply to the US Embassy in London for a visa, costing ?64 ($110).

In the mean time, the parents can't get to see their daughter, son-in-law or new baby grand-dauhter, and we can't visit family who we haven't seen for over a year.

I know the US polices it's own citizens to death (that is the purpose of the Social Security Number!), but isn't this going a little 'too far'?!!!

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I Hope So

by Oldefar In reply to Isn't that a bit Simplist ...

Simple is generally better.

The law simply holds a parent financially responsible for their children, and does not allow a parent to use absense as an escape from the responsibility.

No, you cannot collect when there is no money. Instead, the debt grows with an obligation to pay when able. Sound to me like this is what happened.

If she were in the US, she would not be on Social Security unless unable to work. Unemployment compensation is based on previous employment. Welfare now stipulates a requirement to be available and accept work when offered, or to accept training for new work. It no longer is a check to let someone sit around watching TV all day. Assistance would have the child support deducted. These options are still available to her if she chooses to return to the US.

It ceased to be a family issue only when the family chose to request state assistance. The initial government action was triggered by their decision, it was not a state initiated action. In a police state, the government tends to initiate such actions.

As for the problem now with travel, that is unfortunate. However, it can be argued that blind justice (without regard to extenuating situations) is overall fairer than justice arbitrated on every individual case by the judge handling the case. In fact, the move towards less judicial latitude came about because of the widespread variance among judges as to how to apply laws.

The bulk of the decisions are up to her. The choices may be hard, but they are her choices. Hardly a police state situation. And that is my point.

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Don't get me wrong as I do not hold with the Idea

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to I Hope So

Of the US being a Police State I was just attempting to point out that some people just fall between the cracks and while it is the same here on Welfare or as it is called here the Dole a person must not only be prepared to undertake any work that is offered as well as any training but they may also be required to "Work for the Dole" as well. While this is a disputed topic in some circles and there needs to be more thought put into the scheme overall it is a good idea.

However she could very easily get around the travel problem just by remouncing her US citizenship and becoming a British Subject and when she entered the US on a British Pasport the Authorities could do nothing about it because they lack the authority to detain a foregin national unless they is an imediate threat to the welfare of people/person in the USA.

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US Privacy Act of 1974 - 5 U.S.C. ? 552a

by Oldefar In reply to Last time I looked

Sec. 7(a) (1) It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual's refusal to disclose his social security account number.

(2) the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not apply with respect to--

(A) any disclosure which is required by Federal statute, or

(B) any disclosure of a social security number to any Federal, State, or local agency maintaining a system of records in existence and operating before January 1, 1975, if such disclosure was required under statute or regulation adopted prior to such date to verify the identity of an individual.

(b) Any Federal, State or local government agency which requests an individual to disclose his social security account number shall inform that individual whether that disclosure is mandatory or voluntary, by what statutory or other authority such number is solicited, and what uses will be made of it.

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Re: Privacy Act

by maxwell edison In reply to US Privacy Act of 1974 - ...

I'm glad you posted this information. I was thinking exactly the same thing. I remember back in 1974, when the act was passed, I was in the Air Force and they made a big deal out of it, making sure we understood it.

Of course, I also remember always having to sign a "paperwork reduction act" form that was included with just about everything. (A real oxymoron - a piece of paperwork about paperwork reduction.)

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by Oldefar In reply to Re: Privacy Act

I was also in at that time, and I submitted a suggestion that rather than having us sign that Privacy Act Disclosure form hundreds of times each they should have it done once at the time of enlistment.

The suggestion was kicked back. Yup, I had forgotten to sign and attach a copy of the Privacy Act Disclosure form.

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On US paperwork

by GuruOfDos In reply to Re: Privacy Act

US Government forms always seem to make mention of a 'processing burden'...i.e., how long it takes a clerk to process and file the form!!

DA Forms (Department of the Army) are the worst! A repair on site for the US Army in Europe may take one of our engineers ten minutes. Then an hour to fill in the DA2407 and then half an hour running around getting the right signatures on them. Then back in the office, we have to do perhaps another hour or two on more forms and then send them to the US to be processed...the administrative burden on the form states 2.4 hours...and that's just for an Army clerk, let alone us! The then pay us, say $100 for the labour, which just about covers the form filling time....and God only knows how much an Army pen-pusher gets for his or her 2.4 hours!

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Paperwork ?? Man they LOVE IT here ...

by MerchantBanker In reply to On US paperwork

I'm a Brit that lives very happily here in the USA (Cedar Rapids, Iowa, since you ask ...) with my American wife. And yes I like it and Americans very much. Well Midwest folks anyway. Mostly. AN d some others. Except hunters. I digress.

Now that said, NEVER in my whole life have I seen and had to deal with SO MANY stupid and pointless pieces of paper. We wanted to borrow a paltry $3000 from OUR bank to buy a vehicle and it took TWO hours and at least 15 signatures plus an insulting lecture from some spotty whelp about 'fiscal responsibility' before we could get out of there. The UK equivalent ? A two minute phone call to the Bank and the money is in your account because it's such a tiny amount they ain't bothered. The reason ? The stupid little tiny regional and local banks that have so little money to play with they treat it like, well I can't think of the right word but you know what I mean. Not that the nationals such as US Bank are much better.

Paperwork. The US obsession if you ask me.

Usually consisting of forms so cramped and cryptic you'd be forgiven for thinking you are supposed to balls them up. Such as ANY US tax form I've ever seen.

It's all a racket I reckon.

PS ... It took a whole year of interviews and paperwork and general poncing about to get my Green card for the US. We lived in the UK for 8 years before coming here. To get my wifes fiancee visa ? 2 hours. The get her UK residency ? One afternoon and my word for it that she'd not be a burdon on the state.

So IT CAN be done, but there is no will from the system here to change anything, just as long as the 'people' don't realise how awful the system is. Any by the way it may be initially cheap to live here, but there is a needless fee for every last bloody thing, so they get the money one way or another.

The great rip-off of the citizens continues apace, as it ever has. But no-one seems to say anything about it ?

Why not folks ?


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By the way, and it's certainly none of my business

by maxwell edison In reply to Its official. America is ...

Why not just pay the $7,500 and be done with it? Even though it's a healthy sum, it's really not that much money, and with a little creative thinking, just about anyone with a reasonable degree of initiative and prioritizing could dig up such an amount.

You mentioned in a different thread that you were planning a trip to Canada to visit Oz. There's 25% of it right there.

But like I said, how you set your priorities is none of my business. (Hope I didn't offend.)

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But Maxwell

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to By the way, and it's cert ...

What if he isn't the one paying for the trip and it is business related?

We have all been in the position of when we work for someone we are sent all over the place to do jobs and on some ocassions when we are sent to one place we take the oportinuty to kill two brids with one stone so to speak and visit someone we know there when we aren't working.

Personally I've been sent to many parts of the world on business related trips and although there are no records of it I even once spent two weeks in the USA but as I cam in on a Milatery transport from the Gap I wasn't required to have a pasport on me and in that particuar ocassion it would have proved counter productive to actually admit that I had been there.

But I've been to Germany, Switerland and several other places on work related trips and there is no way that I could have got the company who I then worked for to pay someone else the money that it would have cost to send me there without me doing the work.

While I do not know if that is the case here I wouldn't jump to any conclusions either and if I ever needed to go to the US for any reason I would not hesitate to look you up while I was there either.


{PS if you live in CA I'm prevented from visiting there or talking to anyone who ives there as my wife knows everything that I do even before I do it and CA is OFF LIMITS to me as I tend to spend far too much money there.}

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by GuruOfDos In reply to By the way, and it's cert ...

The dollar is pretty low at the moment which works in our favour...but $7500 is still over ?4000, and that is four months take-home wages.

By take home, I mean after taxes and insurance AND the British Child Support Agency have taken their slice for my other two children. That sum alone translates to some US$700 a month!

I could happily sit here paying $100 a month with no trouble, slowly whittling away at the deficit...but the issue isn't the's the time.

The court imposed an arrears amount of $25 a let me see...that's 300 months at $25 a month, which is the rest of my working life. Thats on top of the $50 a month ongoing. Naturally it is in our interest to pay MORE and clear the arrears quicker...$200 a month is not an unreasonable sum I feel, out of what little we can spare. We have even put this in writing to the court and explained that to them but no, the retrospective arrears trigger a passport revocation and that's automatic and tough ****!

So we're in a dilemma where a court has imposed one figure as reasonable, we can quadruple (at least) that figure, but that still doesn't get us out of the passport revocation trap. Fine if we lived in the US...she'd just be stuck there. We don't, we live in the UK.

Surely the law should allow for such payment arrangements, in excess of what the court has decreed. But no, it's bye-bye passport, no ands, ifs or buts. If she had refused to pay support and built up the arrears, I could understand, but these are not accrued arrears for failure to pay. They are court imposed arrears and the account was set up with a 7.5k deficit. Within seconds of the support account being set up, the transmission was on it's way to the State Department. The law simply has no leeway for this!

As for travelling to Oz...Col hit the nail on the head. It would be a stopover on a business visit.

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