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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

WHY THE WORLD RANKS AMERICA'S ENTRY OFFICERS THE WORLD'S WORST

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I'll be testifying on November 8th in front of the House Immigration Subcommittee on a provision in a proposed piece of legislation that would create an appeals board to at least have a little authority over the entry process. The measure is modest, but would represent an important start. In my written testimony, I refer to a study commissioned by the Discover America Partnership that had some incredible findings including the following:



  • Travelers rate America's entry process as the "world's worst" by greater than a 2:1 margin over the next-worst destination area.


  • The U.S. ranks with Africa and the Middle East when it comes to traveler-friendly paperwork and officials.


  • 54 percent of international travelers say that immigration officials are "rude."


  • Travelers to the U.S. are more afraid of U.S. government officials (70%) than the threat of terrorism or crime (54%).


Find those numbers hard to believe? Check out this statement sent to the blog by a Customs and Border Protection officer in response to my posting this link and tell me if this guy fits the description above:

It's not about customer service at all, it's enforcing the laws of the
United states. You people think entering the US is like going to the
Burger king and getting it your way. Hate to tell you, been other
places, US CBPOs are saints compared to experiences I had in Spain, UK,
France and Germany. Get off your high horses.

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  1. USC's Avatar
    "I had in Spain, UK, France and Germany. Get off your high horses."

    LOL! I have been to all those places. Take the Eurostar from London to Paris. If you are a national allowed visa free entry into the EU, such as American nationals are, your entry experience consists of holding open your passport page to the picture page and holding it up high and walking out of the train station/platform. No forms to fill out, no interviews just hold up your passport and walk out!
  2. bobzibub's Avatar
    Been to all those countries too. Just drove across and noticed where the border stop used to be. Not so much as a stop sign.
    Here, crossing is like check point Charlie...I don't fear being sent to Syria and have had very professional people process my papers but the border people have so much power over you that if they screw up you're the one getting screwed with little recourse. I avoid crossing the US border and only do once or twice a year if that. And it is not like Spain doesn't have ETA. The UK the IRA, Germans their terror groups too. Those countries have, as societies, emotionally dealt with terrorism, and have learned to manage the problem in stride. Here, they've created a government leviathan and a gaggle of contractors all partaking in a money ****.
    Homeland Security is now the biggest boondoggle in all human history. If they'd spend 1/100th of that money on roads, we'd be much more safe. It is an unrealistic expectation that an open society be completely secure from terrorism; sure, mitigate risk but people must accept living with some risk too. Just like the costs to society of ending all crime are higher than having some crime.
    Of course the cheapest way to mitigate the risk of terrorism is to tread lightly on the planet and listen to your enemies. People don't blow up others because they don't appreciate their beliefs. They blow up those that prevent their autonomy. I can't think of any terrorist group where that is not the case--from the Shining Path to the PKK back to Guy Fawks.

  3. Middle Ground's Avatar
    As a frequent international travelor, I've never had a bad experience in any of the countries I travel to. My wife, a non-citizen, has always been treated well also (at least when I was present). I've never traveled to a third world country - maybe if I did my experience would be different.

    I'm more afraid that we'll be sitting on the runway for hours or that our flights will be delayed or canceled than of customs.

    My wife has told me about one of her friends who had problems, but she had legal problems also and didn't keep her immigration documents in order. Her life was already a total wreck - she simply didn't have her act together. Anyways, she flew here from Japan, only to be turned back in LA.

    In my view, we should do more screening at the country of origin because I would hate to fly here for 12 hours, and then spend another 12 hours on a flight home because I got turned back (not to mention hours in somebody's office). Visitors should at least know that once they board a long International flight that when they arrive, they've made it.
  4. Sid's Avatar
    I had to wait for a fairly long time at the Vancouver airport immigration as well but the officers were way more polite than their American counterparts.

    I understand that immigration doesn't have to be like walking into Burger King (especially after 9/11) but I don't understand the reason behind the rudeness. Not just the immigration officers, but the way the airport workers treated my parents (they are very old and not really used to the American accent) when they visited me the last time, made my blood boil. Unless you are a U.S. citizen, it's not worth confronting these people over these issues.
  5. USC's Avatar
    "I understand that immigration doesn't have to be like walking into Burger King (especially after 9/11) but I don't understand the reason behind the rudeness."

    Actually, there is no reason it can't be. To any CBP persons reading this blog. Check their passports, visas, run your data base checks, smile and send these people onwards. Its not your place to give those people holding visas the third degree, The Embassy has already done so. If you have questions to ask from those from the Visa Waiver Countries ask those in a courteous manner. If you are unable to do this, go get a different job!!

    This type of behavior is especially unacceptabe:

    "Not just the immigration officers, but the way the airport workers treated my parents (they are very old and not really used to the American accent) when they visited me the last time, made my blood boil."
  6. Immigrant's Avatar
    I landed 5 years ago and I still remember the officer who stamped my passport. He was rude and made me feel welcomed.I wish they were polite to welcome the future immigrants, many of whom will uphold the American torch in future.
  7. Another voice's Avatar
    These people need a HUGE crash course on customer service. I understand that their job description has to deal with people in all walks of life and they are the gate keepers but that does not mean that they can be nasty to all people.
  8. legal-forever-waiting-forever's Avatar
    more:

    http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1513926.html

    Minnesota's Finnish guests find a rude airport welcome

    The musicians say they were subjected to harsh, demeaning treatment; the U.S. government says it's investigating.
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