Just Be Nice
Upon arrival in Barcelona this summer, a Spanish official glanced at my passport and waved me on my way. Returning from Spain, I encountered a longer line at O’Hare, but I eventually answered a couple of perfunctory questions posed by a bored customs official who then waved me on my way. I was glad that I wasn’t visiting the U.S. from another country, because the “citizens” line made slow but steady progress while the lengthy queue of foreign visitors stood motionless.
It’s no surprise, then, that two-thirds of the business travelers polled by the Discover America Partnership considered the U.S. to be “the worst country in the world” in its treatment of foreign visitors at the border. More surprising, perhaps, is that a similar percentage of respondents fear being mistreated by DHS officials more than they fear terrorism. They viewed U.S. border officials as “arrogant, rude and unpredictable.”
“We deliberately sampled an elite group of business travelers who are more likely to feel positive towards the US than most people in their own countries,” said Geoff Freeman, the director of Discover America Partnership. “All they are asking is to be treated with respect, professionalism and courtesy: they are not asking for America to reduce its security measures.”
Treating guests with respect isn’t too much to ask from DHS employees. Long lines can be alleviated with more bodies at the gateways, but professionalism and courtesy need to be instilled from the top down.
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