Sorry we barred you, US officials tell novelist McEwan
BORDER officials in the United States have issued a rare apology after they briefly barred the British author Ian McEwan from entering the US from Vancouver, Canada.
"Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience and delay the refusal process caused you," William S Heffelfinger III, a deputy assistant commissioner with US Customs and Border Protection, wrote. "Be assured that this erroneous refusal will not impact your future applications to the United States."
McEwan, whose novels include the best-selling Atonement, was in Vancouver on 30 March, trying to board a plane for Seattle, where he was to address Seattle Arts and Lectures before more speaking engagements in Portland, Oregon, and Pasedena, California. A US inspector barred him from boarding on the grounds that the fees McEwan was to receive for his appearances - $5,000 in Seattle alone - were too big to qualify as "honoraria".
After a 24-hour flurry of activity, border officials realised there was no rule limiting the size of honoraria. McEwan was admitted the next afternoon.
Danielle Sheahan, a spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection in Washington, DC, noted it was "extremely rare" for the agency to issue apologies, and said McEwan’s rejection had been erased from its files.
Seattle Arts and Lectures had feared the delay might dissuade other notable foreign writers or artists from visiting.
Margit Rankin, the group’s executive director, said: "The apology is good news for us. It means we will not have to do things differently than we have in the past."
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