Most Americans are not aware that visitors to the US are subjected to questioning whose intrusiveness is exceeded only by its absurdity.
It comes mainly in the form of an online form called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization that you must fill before you travel. An airline pilot has written an article titled How Not to Attract Tourists that discloses some of the questions visitors are asked.
ESTA asks for basic personal data, like your name and birth date. It also asks whether you are guilty of “moral turpitude,” whether you’re planning crimes or “immoral activities” and whether you suffer from “lymphogranuloma venereum” (don’t ask). If you’re involved in terrorism or genocide — and for some reason you’ve decided to take this opportunity to inform the United States government — there’s a box for that. And if you’re a spy — a particularly artless one — please let us know.
And you have to pay $14 for the privilege of filling in this form.
As the author of that article says, American immigration practices give the “give the strong impression of an authority-minded culture that’s coming slightly unhinged.”