What part of welcoming foreign visitors and businessmen to the US do we not understand?
Is it the bit about the billions of dollars they will spend in our country, or the part about the millions of new jobs that would be created if we restored our country’s share of international travel to the historic levels it used to be, prior to when new ‘keep the foreigners out’ policies were enacted?
Do we currently have such a booming economy and trade surplus that we don’t need billions more dollars? Do we currently have such full employment that we don’t want to add millions more jobs?
While other countries do all they can to attract and encourage international travelers to come visit, the US acts in a contrarian manner, harming itself for no good purpose.
Read this article in the Wall St Journal about the growth of lines and delays suffered by visitors to the US. It is thought that the US is now the worst country in the world for visitors to enter (and that’s before we add the extra indignities, hassles, problems, and expenses of getting a visa to come here in the first place!).
The root cause of the problem? Even though we’d done the worst we can to keep them away, foreign visitor numbers are up 12% over the last three years, but the Customs & Border Patrol have not hired any more agents. Why not? Passengers pay way over the odds in direct taxes and fees that more than cover the cost of the CBP staff. And therefore, a growth in passenger numbers directly flows through to an increase in fees paid. What is happening to the extra money the CBP is receiving? Why is it not being spent on a matching increase in staff?
Every arriving passenger pays $16.30 for the privilege of being serviced by CBP agents, plus another $5 Agricultural inspection fee, another $5.50 Customs fee, and a further $7 Immigration fee. Oh, and they pay another $16.30 to leave the country again.
The CBP’s apparent refusal to appropriately spend the money it receives on providing a fair level of service to the people who compulsorily paid the fees assessed is beyond appalling. How can they not provide an abundant level of staffing in return for the $50.10 every passenger – both US citizens and foreigners – pays them? Did you see $50.10 worth of value and staffing/infrastructure cost the last time you flew out of the country and back again (and don’t forget that you paid separate and additional fees for TSA screening, airport infrastructure, and just about every other imaginable thing, too)?
Where is any sense of management and concern among our country’s leadership?
Most of all, what has happened to our nation’s sense of decency and pride? How is it that this country – once one of the most open and welcoming of countries, and once one of the best governed and most sensible of counties – now acts in a manner that would put a third world dictatorship to shame?
If you can get foreigner to speak openly and honestly to you – I can because my accent causes them not to identify me as a US citizen – they will eagerly tell you how their experiences getting visas and then entering the United States are the worst in the world. Many people refuse to visit the US and refuse to fly any routes that require them to transit through the US. They’d rather fly ‘the long way round’ to get somewhere than to go through the US, and who can blame them.
Ask them about their experiences traveling to other countries, ranging from ones we consider to be ‘bad’ to ones we have always thought ourselves to be superior to. Cuba – lovely friendly people. North Korea – passively disinterested bureaucrats and an easy process. China – a civilized friendly easy process. Russia – lazy bored staff, some delays, but again an easy process. The EU? Just walk on in. Even our immediate neighbor to the north, Canada – a positive experience. But the US? Rude aggressive staff, ridiculously complex procedures to get visas, and the risk of multi-hour delays to be processed through Immigrations and Customs.
As observed before, we are now in the ridiculous situation where illegal aliens get a warmer welcome to the United States than legal visitors. Why is the Senate not developing easy obvious solutions to this massive harm we’re inflicting on ourselves (ie mandating the CBP to staff to a level to ensure no-one waits more than perhaps 20 minutes), instead of tying itself up in knots arguing about illegal aliens?