Andrew Sullivan, commenting on evidence that requiring visas keeps tourists away, explains why arriving in America generally sucks for most people:
This may seem trivial, but it isn’t with respect to American soft power. Most [of my readers] are American citizens, so they don’t fully see what it is like to enter the US as a non-citizen. It’s a grueling, off-putting, frightening, and often brutal process. Compared with entering a European country, it’s like entering a police state. When you add the sheer difficulty of getting a visa, the brusque, rude and contemptuous treatment you routinely get from immigration officials at the border, the sense that all visitors are criminals and potential terrorists unless proven otherwise, the US remains one of the most unpleasant places for anyone in the world to try and get access to.
And this, of course, is a function not only of a vast and all-powerful bureaucracy. It’s a function of this country’s paranoia and increasing insularity. It’s a thoroughly democratic decision to keep foreigners out as much as possible. And it’s getting worse and worse.
Even for returning U.S. citizens, our border can be a pain in the ass. This is why I am overjoyed to have a Global Entry endorsement. But even though I've seen the lines, I've never experienced coming here as a foreigner. My experiences in most other countries—Russia being the most memorable exception—have been completely benign. Plus, only a dozen or so countries require me to get a visa before arriving. Only Norwegians can visit more countries visa-free than we can.
Has anyone out there had a negative experience at our border?