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The Five Hour Immigration Window

By Brian | August 24, 2005 | Share on Facebook

As that guy on Everybody Loves Raymond used to say, “Holy Crap!” How come I didn’t hear about this when it happened?

A virus caused the U.S. Customs computer system used to process passengers arriving on international flights to shut down for several hours Thursday [August 18th], leaving long lines of impatient travelers, officials said.

Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said the virus impacted computer systems at a number of airports, including those in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas and Laredo, Texas.

The worst delays appeared to be at Miami International Airport, where as many as 2,000 people waited to clear immigration, airport spokesman Marc Henderson said.

At New York’s airports, customs officials processed passengers by hand during the shutdown. In Los Angeles, they used backup computer systems to keep passengers moving.

I can see the future news article now: “The terrorists entered the country by shutting down the immigration computers last August, and then using the confusion and lack of access to centrally stored no-fly lists to sneak through customs undetected. At the time, officials believed the shutdown was due to an otherwise harmless computer virus.”


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