Are U.S. immigrations at airports going too far?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Andeavor, May 29, 2011.

  1. Andeavor macrumors 6502

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    #1
    My mom and her husband have recently returned from their South Seas cruise. To get there they had to transit through Los Angeles and in both cases they had to still go through immigrations as is procedure. Both times, my stepdad was held up because he shares the same generic German name of a guy who apparently did some shady business with goggles (?) and in both cases he had an incompetent 20-year old typing more stuff into the computer than there was in his passport.

    The overall impression my parents got was how cocky and rude US immigration officers are and how they abuse their authority to make traveling into the country more stressful than it already is. I might want to add that in order to travel into the country, most European citizens have to fill out a form online in order to get the green light to board the plane. It's just one more thing on the plate that makes foreigners put off of traveling to the US.

    The ironic thing was that at some point one of the immigrations officers said there was a problem with my stepdad's online form, forgetting that it's their computer that gave him permission to travel in the first place.

    Both have said this was the last time they traveled to the US as they feel insulted to be treated like common criminals. I don't blame them.

    What are your thoughts about this?
     
  2. likemyorbs macrumors 68000

    likemyorbs

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    #2
    As someone who lives in the New York area, i can tell you the city is filled with tourists from all over the world. I guess not everyone has these problems.
     
  3. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68030

    Mac'nCheese

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    #3

    Honestly? People in high stress jobs that have to deal with hundreds of people everyday, each one with their own story about why they should just breeze through checkpoints and never have to wait for anything, have my sympathy. I wonder, what did your family do to make this worker annoyed? I'm sure they did something to make the difficult situation worse. After all, what can he/she do other then his/her job no matter how annoying it may seem to others?
     
  4. benthewraith macrumors 68040

    benthewraith

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    #4
    It's not just Europeans that are treated as common criminals when they fly, it's pretty much everyone. Strip down, check laptop to see if you replaced the battery with a bomb, see if there's a bomb in your underwear. Y'all might as well get your visits in to the U.S. while you can before they start doing cavity searches. Hopefully they'll provide meals before said search.
     
  5. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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  6. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #6
    Can't say being a US citizen. I had a rather uneventful experience going through US Immigration at DTW yesterday.

    "How long were you gone?"
    "Where did you go?"
    "What are you bringing back?"
    "Welcome home, have a great day"

    Took about a minute. Wish I could say the same for the TSA I had to deal with a few minutes later to catch my connecting flight...
     
  7. 184550 Guest

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    May 8, 2008
    #7
    Because it's impossible that your (step)father filled out the form incorrectly.

    Like almost every country, the US is mainly concerned with protecting its borders/ citizens/ interests. I'm sure your parents could have found an alternate route. Though it may not have been as fast/ cheap/ convenient/ whatever reason they chose to travel through the US in the first.
     
  8. anjinha macrumors 604

    anjinha

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    #8
    I just got help up at LAX a week ago. I have no idea why or if I did something wrong, they didn't tell me anything, they just took me to a room where I had to wait for about half an hour and then they asked me a bunch more questions. The second guy that asked me questions was very nice but the first one was unnecessarily rude. I had another flight after that one and almost missed it because of it.

    My previous flight was really bad and I was planning to relax a little and maybe get something to eat and instead I got to be even more stressed, getting interrogated for no apparent reason and running through an unfamiliar airport to be able to make my next flight.
     
  9. 184550 Guest

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    #9
    Surely the nature of the questions asked provided some insight as to what they were trying to ascertain.

    None of that is the fault of US Customs/ Immigration.

    It's also worth noting that while the reason may not have been clear to you, it was perfectly clear the officials involved. They don't want to deal with you any more than you with them.
     
  10. anjinha macrumors 604

    anjinha

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    #10
    They asked me what I was doing in the U.S., if it was my first visit, they asked to see my itinerary for my return flight... Normal questions they ask at immigration. And then they said to wait, took me to another room, and asked me THE EXACT SAME QUESTIONS.

    Plus they already had all the information they asked me.

    No, it's not their fault that my previous flight was bad but they made my arrival to the U.S. unnecessarily difficult. I barely made my next flight, I had to sprint through the airport just to be able to make it.

    Welcome to the U.S. indeed.

    EDIT: It's very easy for you not having to go through that to make it seem like not a big deal. When I previously went to NYC while I didn't get held up they also made it very stressful and were extremely intimidating.
     
  11. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #11
    I've not had any problems visiting the US - although I have only been twice in the last 10 years (I used to visit a couple of times a year).

    The staff doing the searches etc. have generally been OK... but some of the procedures make little sense. You used to have to fill in a form which asked if you were a terrorist or a drug dealer (really!), but now they prefer their no-fly lists which seem to contain tens of thousands of false positives.

    The worst thing about the whole system is having to trust some random person to open and search your luggage without you being present. I'm not aware of any other country where that happens, and it seems very open to abuse (but I mostly fly without checked luggage anyway).

    Does it put me off visiting? Not really... although there are plenty of other countries I'd rather visit.
     
  12. Andeavor thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 19, 2010
    #12
    My parents didn't do or say anything, they both patiently waited to be let through. In fact, the immigrations officers in the booth seemed to be the more relaxed people in the room as they took ages to get to the dozens and dozens of people waiting in line. One of them even clocked out while someone was waiting for him to let them through.

    As for the officers shuffling the "suspicious" passengers around, they added more stress with their barking and yelling.

    Actually, it is their fault because their rash practices scare unexpected passengers and the last thing you want are nervous wrecks in highly populated public places. I say keep the people happy and content and your workflow will be a breeze.

    I understand that a country is protecting its borders, but that doesn't' give them reason to make every tourist or business person feel like they just committed the crime of the century. If you've ever been shuffled around without being told what was going on while you're hoping to catch your next flight you would better undertand.
     
  13. anjinha, May 29, 2011
    Last edited: May 29, 2011

    anjinha macrumors 604

    anjinha

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    #13
    Exactly. I've visited the U.S. twice and both times I had bad experiences with immigration. While I do understand the need for security I don't see the need to make people feel like crap for no reason.

    Not only that but I don't even know why I was held up. If I'm doing something wrong I want to know about it so that i can fix it for the next time I visit but they didn't tell me anything. And too be honest I was too intimidated and nervous to ask. I was afraid if I asked it would be seen as contempt or something.
     
  14. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #14
    I,m another person who won't travel to the U.S. anymore (last time 2003) the attitude of immigration officers in general is the worst I've ever seen.It's a shame because it's a nice country and many of the people are great.Since 2003 I go via China,Japan or Singapore much better experience.
     
  15. garybUK Guest

    garybUK

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    Jun 3, 2002
    #15
    I have to go for work, and it depends where you to to be honest, NY / NJ / PA they are horrible vile human beings who treat you as if your an extremist. They make you hate your visit the whole time because they are on a power trip.

    I've flown into GA (Atlanta) and they have been absolutely wonderful, very polite and make the whole process a lot lot easier.

    Not only that we now have to pay for the privilege of coming before hand, where once the visa waiver was free.

    Put it this way, i won't be visiting for a personal break. Way to invite people into the country and gain a lot of tourism.
     
  16. RafaelT macrumors 65816

    RafaelT

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    #16
    It's unfortunate that traveling has to be like this. I remember when I could breeze through security as a teenage with my Leatherman in my pocket (multi tool with a couple knives).

    With that being said, the security measures that are being taken now are absolutely necessary for the times that we live in. It sucks that your father has the same name as someone on a list that is flagged, but he does and that is not going to change. All he can do is carry any documentation with him to help expedite the process of demonstrating he is not that person. You can't blame customs for that.

    When I travel I never have a problem, I see other people having problems all the time though. What do I do differently? I am extremely pleasant and friendly even if there has been a long line or the agents are not overly friendly. They have to deal with thousands of people a day and as anyone in any field that deals with large amounts of people knows, a large percentage of people are stupid and rude, you can't really blame the agents for being unhappy.
     
  17. firestarter, May 30, 2011
    Last edited: May 30, 2011

    firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #17
    Not really.

    Much of it is 'security theater' - stuff they do to make you think that your tax dollars are being well-spent keeping you safe.

    Hardening cockpit doors against terrorist entry was a good idea (but air marshals are not), and intelligence based activities are also good. Other measures have little sensible basis - and most of them guard against the last terrorist threat, not the next one.

    Will terrorists smuggle bombs in shoes again? Probably not. There are plenty of other places.

    The no-fly list is a farce and has caught no terrorists. Bad guys can easily fly under assumed names, and only good people are stopped.

    Even worse, the no-fly list seems to have experienced 'mission creep' - as names of non-terrorists have been added. This is a non-democratic process and does lead to some feeling of a 'police state' when people travel in the US. It's become a police-checklist even for internal movement through the country - very few other democracies have that.
     
  18. RafaelT macrumors 65816

    RafaelT

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    #18
    I never claimed the system was perfect. Anything our government touches usually is screwed up, only half as effective as it should be and wastes lots of money. I still believe that the idea behind the system is a good idea, the security measures are absolutely necessary, even if it has not been well implemented.
     
  19. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #19
    Depends who you are and where you are entering. Being a Canadian, I rarely get hassle at any border crossing. Sometimes they are abrupt but they have a lot of people to get through so I can cut them some slack on that. Flying from Vancouver, there is US Immigration pre-clearance and they are always polite. My wife is a landed immigrant (British) and is always treated well. Airport security is a bigger hassle,IMO. Crossing at the Peace Arch is a different story. Many of the staff there are surly and have the appearance of being on a power trip, particularly the younger ones. The contrast between going south and going north at the crossing could not be greater but maybe that depends on your citizenship.
     
  20. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #20
    US immigration and airport staff don't provide a good experience. The queues are long and the staff aren't that friendly. I think they are told not to be friendly as I remember having a good chat with one until it got to the point of doing the formal immigration stuff.

    Its far more of a pain to get past US immigration than anywhere else I've visited in the world.

    Ironic that the "land of the free" is worse than those countries :).
     
  21. heehee macrumors 68020

    heehee

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    #21
    I've been to the US many times, never had any trouble other than why and how long I'm going for.

    Once, I've been asked many questions because I was flying to SF to meet up with my boss on his private jet. I would have asked many questions too if I were him, it's just weird for a young guy to fly to SF via commercial and board a private jet to go somewhere else. He was polite though, but asked me questions I had no idea how to answer.
     
  22. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #22
    I suppose it's something that varies with each traveler's experience. I've found Canada and Japan to be typically troublesome. Curiously, the UK, which I've always found easy to enter, but on departure they've been a pain the butt a number of times.
     
  23. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #23
    As a foreigner the US is significantly worse than the others mentioned.
     
  24. sim667 macrumors 65816

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    #24
    Last time I went I was ok, but my mate go pulled aside and had his luggage turned out. I can only assume as his got a hint of a middle eastern look to him
     
  25. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #25
    all depends on your experience I suppose. I remember being held up for about 20 minutes at Heathrow while being grilled repeatedly about whether I had left the UK earlier during my visit, which I hadn't. Finally the officer called for another officer who discovered that the first officer had misread the dates on some of the stamps in my passport......and then I was sent off without so much as a "sorry about that"
     

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