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30 Apr

How I Managed To Get Kicked Out Of Jersey UK

I’m sitting in the ferry terminal in St. Malo, France with a few hours to kill before my train leaves for Paris/Barcelona. I figured I’d take the time to explain to everyone how I got kicked out of Jersey (UK) the other day. I’ll do my best to give you the facts without too much emotional bias, as I know that the people who were responsible for ejecting me were simply doing their jobs and upholding the law as they saw fit. Joanna, if you’re reading this – and I *know* you are, because you had all of my Facebook posts and blogs printed out as evidence (Joanna was the senior immigration officer who was overseeing my case) I thought you were kind of cute, and maybe next time I’m in Jersey we can get a drink. Maybe I’m just a sucker for girl in uniform… who knows, but hopefully you have a sense of humor when you’re not at work 😉

Anyone who’s been following my recent adventure knows that I’ve been travelling the world for the last 6 months, visiting friends and family, writing my new album and working on a book about my life. I travelled to Jersey via ferry from St. Malo about a month ago. After disembarking, I was required to go through customs. I made my way through the line and handed my passport to the first available agent. As soon as she opened it, a condom that had somehow gotten lodged inside, fell out onto her lap (it was completely unintentional). I tried to laugh it off (who wouldn’t), but she didn’t seem amused. She handed it back to me and then proceeded to grill me about what I was doing in Jersey. We obviously didn’t start off on the right foot.

For the next 10 minutes she asked me questions about what my plans were, how long I intended to stay, if I made enough money to take care of myself and so on and so forth. Because I didn’t have my flight itinerary, bank statements or any other travel plans printed (they were all in my email, which I didn’t have access to at the moment) I wasn’t able to sufficiently convince her that I wasn’t there for the reasons that she may have suspected. Then she called in Joanna to get some advice/perspective/help on how to deal with me. For the next fifteen minutes, I tried to explain to them that I was there to visit my friends and to work on a song with Marc Mitchell. It was the word “work” that they had a problem with.

Apparently, Jersey law states that foreigners are not allowed to work (paid OR unpaid) without a work visa, which I did not have (nor did I know that I needed prior to my arrival). Under this law, anyone who does music for a living (as I do) is considered to be working if they’re engaging in any sort of musical activity (either creating or playing it). That would also mean that under this same law, if a professional photographer came to Jersey on holiday, it would be illegal for him to take pictures of his trip while he was there *because photography was his profession*. (Does this also mean you can’t have sex if you’re a porn star for a living? haha)

Are you starting to understand where this is going now?

The entire contents of all my bags were emptied and thoroughly searched. I was given a hard time about having a stack of business cards (which I *always* carry with me in cause I want to give people my contact information). Finally, after about an hour of further questioning they decided to admit me, but put a “code 9” stamp in my passport, which indicated that I was stopped and questioned at customs. They even interrogated Marc and Karen in the lobby while they were going through my bags. I was told that they would be phoning in a few weeks to follow up.

Fast forward three weeks later. The phone rings at the house. It’s Joanna, asking me to come in for a little “chat.” I figured that all she wanted was to see the paperwork (itinerary, bank statements, etc.) that I wasn’t able to provide upon entry. The next day I printed out the appropriate documents and went downtown to the immigration office. I was asked to sit down in an interview room adjacent to the main lobby. Joanna and the other female agent that originally questioned me were there. The first thing they did was slide a photocopy of a newspaper clipping across the desk and ask me,

“Can you tell me what this is?”

It was an advertisement for a DJ gig I had agreed to play as an UNPAID opening slot for Darin Epsilon that Friday.

“I didn’t know that I needed to mention that to you” I told them.

To be perfectly honest, I *didn’t* think it was necessary. Playing records for me is fun and on top of that, I wasn’t getting paid for it. Thus I never considered it “work.” They did not concur. After an hour of going back and forth trying to define what “work” was to them (and failing to help them understand that work/fun co-exist simultaneously for me) I was told that I was to leave the island the very next morning under the premise that I had lied upon entry and that I would be not be allowed to return for 10 years.

Obviously this was upsetting. Prior to this trip, I hadn’t seen Marc and Karen for ten years and now it looked like it was going to be another ten. They served me with some paperwork, confiscated my passport and I was told to report to the harbor at 8:00AM the next morning. We asked to speak to their manager next. He sat down with us, listened to our concerns and was informative and polite, but he wasn’t going to make his underlings look bad by overruling their decision. I guess it was time to just deal with the reality of the situation, as unfair and overblown as it seemed. When we got back to the house, Marc and Karen started making phone calls.

By the end of the day, we had one of the Jersey Senators (Lyndon Farnham) intervening on my behalf with the immigration office. Through his efforts, he was able to get my case a review the next day, which led to me being able to stay until today (Monday). Unfortunately, I was still banned from the island for one year under the original premise of “deception upon entry.”

This is all I have to say… Congratulations Jersey. You actually deported and banned the one guy who wasn’t getting paid, who injected money INTO your economy and had nothing but good things to say about you and your island (until now). On top of that, you let another guy who *was* actually getting paid for the gig without a work visa get away. Effective. I didn’t do *anything* wrong. In fact, I provided work to one of your local musicians who doesn’t get ANY work from within your island and now you’ve managed to take THAT away as well. How can you justify this? All I wanted was to be able to visit my friends and make/play music and be creative without being treated like a criminal. Under your current laws that isn’t possible. Why would anyone want to visit Jersey under these conditions?

Read about it here on BBC’s website