Monday, May 2, 2011

Keep the Canadians Out – A suggestion to our Immigration workers


MichiganExpats – News – See All News

By Mr. Sig

So…. Michigan accepted 4 million in border aid for “better communication systems.”  Although taking money from Lucy Napolitano to secure the borders is pretty much non-negotiable, it brings up an interesting point.  Michigan has an international port of entry from Canada.  It is one of the things that you seldom hear people talk about when Michigan’s advantages are thrown around, but it’s something we cannot ignore.

Welcoming immigration workers and border patrol agents are seldom nice people, but this is the midwest, darnnit.  People here are nice and that should be reflected in the way we present our customs and immigration experience to the Canadians.  The last thing any foreigner wants when entering into this country is to deal with some jerk immigration official.  Give people a lot of power, keep their pay low and, well, you see what happens.

Given all of this – I call on our immigration folks to (legally) welcome people into our country.  Smile when they come up to get their passport stamped.  Be kind to them if they don’t understand you or speak another language.  When they pass through, tell them “welcome” “thanks for visiting,” “I hope you have a good time here", ”please come back again.”  Hell, give them a good suggestion for a nearby watering hole.

Being married to a non-US citizen has given me a lot of perspective about how we treat our guests.  Simply put, we treat them like criminals even though the vast majority of them have done no and mean no harm to the US.  This experience alone just kills our tourism industry since many people don’t want to come visit anymore.

Think about how much good customer service could do for Michigan’s tourism industry coming through our Canadian ports of entry.  Is it a law that immigration workers make others feel small and scared?  Is this what Napolitano wants?  Maybe so, but I don’t think it’s in any manual that simple politeness, friendliness and good old fashioned midwest charm be excluded from the behavior of our immigration workers.

Foreigners are our clients and customers, not criminals.

Until next time….


  1. Crossing into Canada was always a reasonable experience. You knew what was going on, and you knew what Custom's job was. But the Canadians were polite and respectful even while being professional doing their job.

    A different feeling coming back.

  2. Being nice isn't that hard. People can be polite and careful at the same time. Maybe they should hire middle school teachers for this job. We're experts at smiling and insisting, "Yes, you need to stay after school to get your homework done. We only do this because we want what's best for you."

  3. In my completely uneducated position, the general sentiment about foreigners in this country has been concentrated in immigration workers. If the nation, as a whole, doesn't like foreigners then you can expect customs agents to be as friendly as a surprised grizzly bear.

    If we start changing our mind on the national scale as to how we view immigration then I see the problem being corrected automatically.

  4. I know there will be many difficulties and challenges but I am determined to do it. If it does not succeed then it will be a lesson for me as well