We've all heard the rumours. The Department of Homeland Security. A name to send shivers down the spine of any freedom-loving individual. Marching around with unconstitutional powers, grabbing anyone who steps out of line and throwing them into a 2ft by 3ft cell and beating them with rubber hoses. Michael Moore tells us - and it must, therefore, be true - that they are swooping in and arresting any foreign national who overstays their visa by as much as one single second, in midnight raids reminiscent of Communism at its worst, denying them access to lawyers, refusing to tell anyone where they are and threatening to arrest anyone who dares to speak their name.
Yeah, except it's bollocks.
I've been here over two years and, due to some very yawn-inducing financial problems, didn't manage to apply for my Green Card before my visa ran out. It was several months. So what did the fanatical brownshirts do? They were, er, helpful. I'll say that again. They were helpful. They were nice. They were friendly. They were, on the odd occasion or two, funny. They provided me with forms and offered any help I needed filling them in. They promised that this interview or that one would be scheduled within six to eight weeks and, unlike their British counterparts, didn't mean eight to ten months. Having had my final interview with - it has to be said - a very nice judge, they promised me my Green Card in six to eight weeks. And, again, it arrived.
Yeah, I'm British. Yeah, no terrorist connections here. But the rumours don't differentiate. I was told this before I came here - miss your visa date and get locked up. It never happened. Maybe the only people who are being investigated by the DHS are those with possible terrorist connections.
And isn't that what they are supposed to be doing?
Like any government organisation, the vast majority of people who work for the DHS are just ordinary folks, "working stiffs" is, I believe, the American term. People who, like almost everyone else on the planet, are just working to put food on the table, clothes on the kids and, increasingly, mp3s in the iPod. But to hear some on the internet tell it, all are merely hiding their swastikas until the day they can wear them openly.
It's kinda reassuring to see that the left can invent stories as well as the right...