Bluff The Listener Our panelists read three stories about someone elsewhere in the world having a unique immigration problem, only one of which is true.

Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists read three stories about someone elsewhere in the world having a unique immigration problem, only one of which is true.

BILL KURTIS: Support for NPR comes from NPR stations and the NPR Wine Club, offering wines from around the world, with the stories behind each one and bottles inspired by favorite NPR shows. Available to adults 21 years or older. Learn more at Lumber Liquidators, a proud sponsor of NPR, offering more than 400 styles, including hardwood, bamboo, laminate and vinyl, with flooring specialists in hundreds of stores nationwide. More at or 1-800-HARDWOOD. And Burlington stores, committed to helping communities. Since 2007, they've donated 1.8 million coats. Throughout Jan. 22, Burlington is collecting gently worn coats, so people can stay warm.


KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Mo Rocca, Alonzo Bodden and Paula Poundstone. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: Right now it's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to play our game on the air. Hi, you are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

NICK PETERS: Hi, this is Nick Peters (ph) in Severna Park, Md., outside beautiful Annapolis.

SAGAL: Beautiful Annapolis. You know, I've never been to that part of Maryland. I understand it's gorgeous.

PETERS: It's absolutely wonderful. Come on down. I'll show you around.

SAGAL: That'll be great. We'll eat some crabs. We'll hit them with hammers.

MO ROCCA: The state flower of Maryland is the black-eyed Susan.


ALONZO BODDEN: Do you know them all?

ROCCA: Yeah.

BODDEN: I figured that.


SAGAL: Nick, welcome to our show. You are going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Nick's topic?

KURTIS: Immigration botheration (ph).

SAGAL: So immigration, as we all know, is a tough topic, but it's hard even when you're trying to get into a normal country. This week, we came across a story of somebody elsewhere in the world having a little problem changing nationalities. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you will win our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?

PETERS: I'm ready.

SAGAL: First, let's hear from Alonzo Bodden.

BODDEN: Brian Wilkinson (ph) - a 35-year-old graphic artist from Minneapolis - fell in love with Bermuda on a cruise stop. When faced with another Minnesota winter, he decided it's time to move to the pink sands and sunshine. He began the paperwork. He proved there was a need for his skills - he could design and print brochures for hotels and menus for eateries. He even donated a beautiful tourism flyer with the slogan, have a Bermuda-ful (ph) day.


BODDEN: He had money in the bank and good credit. Everything seemed to check out until Bermudian immigration officials brought up his violent past. Brian had a fight in kindergarten...


BODDEN: ...And Bermudian authorities said he could not immigrate until he could produce a note from his teacher excusing him. How in the world did they know? Quote, "as Ms. Horne (ph) warned you, it went on your permanent record."


BODDEN: Ms. Horne had died years before, so Brian's only hope was to find the kid he fought with and get a written note of forgiveness, which was hard because he didn't remember the kid's name - just the name they teased him with, Touchy Tony.


BODDEN: But this is 2018, so he was able to use digitized school records and then Facebook to track down his former nemesis. Touchy Tony was Anthony Delgado (ph), who was happy to write a note forgiving Brian for long-ago wrestling match on the playground. Bermuda Immigration Services accepted Touchy Tony's letter as proof of Brian's rehabilitation, and Brian is now having Bermuda-ful (ph) days of his own.


SAGAL: A guy can't get into Bermuda unless he can be forgiven for a fight back in kindergarten. Your next story that's not just immi-good (ph) - it's immi-great (ph) - comes from Paula Poundstone.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Latvia's immigration system has deteriorated to the point where people simply buy their way in - no lottery aimed at diversity, no asylum based on need. You purchase property there using a Schengen visa, and you're in.

Susan Swamo (ph) of Waukegan, Ill., however, encountered an additional roadblock to Latvian immigration. She worked on "Back To The Future III." The Latvian immigration officer in the capital city of Riga noted Ms. Swamo's financial holdings and real estate plans with bureaucratic linger.

But when he came to her work history, he grew agitated. (Imitating Latvian accent) You worked on "Back To The Future III"? He asked incredulously. Yes, Ms. Swamo said with pride. (Imitating Latvian accent) That was a terrible movie.


POUNDSTONE: (Imitating Latvian accent) They should have stopped at "Back To Future I." One was good. Why? Why must you have made it "Back To Future III"? Well, really, I just worked on it. It wasn't up to me, stammered Swamo.

(Imitating Latvian accent) Latvia is a wonderful place, continued the officer. I don't think you are capable of appreciating that. I do, said Swamo. (Imitating Latvian accent) People like you suck the life out of a country, you stupid people who make the "Back To Future III." Crispin Glover didn't even come back to play the dad in the "Back To Future III."


POUNDSTONE: (Imitating Latvian accent) He would be welcome in Latvia. He would make excellent citizen. You, no. You are declined.


POUNDSTONE: A heartbroken Ms. Swamo is planning an appeal based on the legal principle that she only worked in the production company's payroll office.


SAGAL: A woman can't get into Latvia because she worked years ago on a movie that the immigration official did not care for. Your last story of somebody getting stopped at the border comes from Mo Rocca.

ROCCA: It's tough to get the Swiss to take a side. Even the Nazis couldn't do it.


ROCCA: But when it came to 42-year-old Nancy Holten, they couldn't help but take a stand. She's that annoying. How annoying? When Holten - a Dutch-born vegan and animal rights activist who has lived in Switzerland since she was 8 - applied for a Swiss citizenship, she was resoundingly rejected by the citizens of the village in which she's resided. They can't stand her. Holten, who describes herself as a freelance journalist/model/drama student - definitely an annoying way to describe oneself...


ROCCA: ...Has been campaigning for years against the village's traditional use of cowbells. Quote, (imitating Swiss accent) "the bells, which the cows have to wear when they walk to and from the pasture, are heavy. The sound the cowbells make is a hundred decibels. It is like a pneumatic drill."


ROCCA: But the sound of Holten's voice makes her neighbors as cuckoo as the clocks they're famous for.


ROCCA: Ms. Holten has a, quote, "big mouth," says Tanja Suter, president of the local Swiss People's Party. Residents did not want to grant her citizenship, quote, "if she annoys us and doesn't respect our traditions."

Holten - the type of person who doesn't watch TV because she doesn't have one and doesn't know what a hashtag is because she tries to stay off of social media - concedes, (imitating Swiss accent) I think I spoke my mind too often, and I say it too loud.


SAGAL: All right. So these are your three stories of trouble in an immigration case. From Alonzo Bodden, a guy who was not allowed to emigrate to Bermuda unless he could get a note forgiving him for a fight in kindergarten. From Paula, a woman who can't seem to get a visa to go live in Latvia because she worked in a movie, "Back To The Future III," that the immigration official has a real bug about. And from Mo Rocca, a woman who has lived in Switzerland for most of her life but will not be allowed to become a citizen because she is just too annoying. Which of these is the real story of an immigration obstacle?

PETERS: Well, as much as I'd like to do Touchy Tony in Bermuda - because I just love that one - I'm going to have to go with Mo and the Swiss situation because the Swiss are so annoying, I imagine they would find anybody else annoying.

SAGAL: Whoa. Those are hard words, my friend. Hard words.

PETERS: So I'll go with that one.

SAGAL: So you're going to choose Mo's story of the annoying vegan who the Swiss are just simply not going to let stay there. All right. Well, to bring you the correct answer, we spoke to a journalist who is covering this real story.

MEGAN GARBER: So Nancy Holten was denied a passport because she is a vegan.


SAGAL: Her words, vegans, not mine.


SAGAL: That was Megan Garber, a staff writer at The Atlantic, talking about the annoying vegan being denied a Swiss passport. We told you so.


SAGAL: So congratulations, Nick. You got it right. Well done. You were, in fact, correct. Mo was telling the truth.


PETERS: All right. Thank you, Mo.

ROCCA: Thank you.

SAGAL: And you have won our prize, the voice of anyone you like on the show on your voicemail. Thank you so much for playing.

PETERS: All right. Thank you.

SAGAL: All right. Thank you so much.


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