Wednesday, November 22, 2006

US cops a bad rap

More than half 20,011 internationals polled have claimed that America is the most inhospitable country when it comes to passing through immigration, says today's Reuter's report.
That's a pretty tough call - and not altogether fair, I think.
Immigration is a strict business all over the world. Try popping in to Indonesia or England. It is not a barrel of laughs anywhere.
The thing that is wrong with US immigrationn is the volume of people passing through - the terrible queues, often policed by officious martinets in uniforms who snap at the hapless, exhausted travellers telling them to get behind this line or this rope or, in some cases, telling them something completely incomprehensible but definitely not friendly - for it is possible to come across airport officials who don't seem to speak the language.
However, while the queues are hell, it has been my experience that the immigration officials themselves are simply professionals doing their job. The other view of those immense queues is from their side of the process - a stream of zombie-like faces and god knows what paperwork plus endless computer checking. What a wild diversity of people front up to them day in and day out. Talk about a stress job.
And, while I recall some ghastly waits in the queues of LA or San Francisco, I cannot cite a single official who has not been courteous in our encounters - most of them always bidding me a welcome to the US when they have finished processing me.
So I think this report is a nothing but a gratuitous bad rap.
What the hell do these complaining travellers expect? A bloody red carpet?

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