Randomness (r_ness) wrote,

Perhaps the best place to clear US Customs and Immigration is outside the United States.

Cory Doctorow raises the idea that "Chicago may have lost its Olympic bid due to the insane fingerprints-and-photos regime at the US border: the Chicago bid team was questioned by an IOC member who called the US border 'a rather harrowing experience.'"

(Note: there seems to be something going on with boingboing, because the URL which just took to that page is now returning a 404. Must be a conspiracy! Fortunately, I have a cached copy and will continue to post.)

Quoting the NYTimes Intransit blog:
Did Chicago lose the chance to host the 2016 Olympics because of airport security issues?

Among the toughest questions posed to the Chicago bid team this week in Copenhagen was one that raised the issue of what kind of welcome foreigners would get from airport officials when they arrived in this country to attend the Games.
Personally, I think there were plenty of other reasons for the IOC's decision. I wanted to post here, though, because of three suggestions in the comments to the boingboing post:

From Charlie Stross:
The best airport for clearing US immigration is, however, Dublin.


Yup. The INS has a reciprocal arrangement with the Irish government that mirrors their arrangement with Canada; passengers clear Immigration at Dublin or Shannon before they board their flight, and by-pass it once they arrive in the USA (go straight to baggage claim, pass Customs, and that's it). And the INS staff live in Ireland and have, to some extent, gone native -- they're polite and friendly. Also? If you land in the USA and the INS don't like your face, they can haul you off to prison in manacles before deporting you. But if they decide they don't like you on Irish soil, all they can do is deny you permission to board your flight, leaving you free to go into Dublin and drown your sorrows in the Porterhouse.
Note that you can clear customs in Shannon as well, so you don't even need to deal with US Customs in the States. Wikipedia says that's coming to Dublin when Terminal 2 opens next year.

From Don:
A low stress option for travel to the US is to use a departure airport where CBP? clearance is processed before departure or a low volume arrival gateway. I've flown out of Dublin, Ireland, a number of times where pre-departure clearance is processed and, with hand baggage, on arrival breezed through customs in minutes. Arriving in LAX last year, there was polite sign ushering Aer Lingus passengers past the enormous lines of, mainly, trans-Pacific arrivals who must have been facing 90 minutes before see the CBP man.
And finally, from an anonymous comment:
I prefer to enter the USA via Canada because American customs is in the Canadian airports (YVR, YYC, YYZ). I'm a US citizen but I am absolutely not interested in the power dynamic bullshit from US customs agents. I've been threatened with The Glove and I'm not interested in having to bend over for customs. Literally or figuratively. No thanks.

If you have a conflict with the US Customs agent in one of those Canadian airports, you can just walk unless you've broken a Canadian law.

It's inconvenient and may cost you your flight but it's probably the safest bet.

Just make sure that they don't try to keep your passport or you're in some serious trouble. Technically, they cannot deny a US citizen entry because they lack a passport but they sure won't make it easy. I pity the person who has previously pissed off some customs agent and tries to enter without a passport. :-(
I've flown in to the States and cleared through Toronto's Pearson Airport myself. The process was pleasant and fast.

There's also the advantage of dealing with the Customs and Border Protection people before a long flight, rather than after. This certainly encourages me to consider Ireland as a gateway into or out of the US.

For reference, Wikipedia has a page on United States border preclearance, which lists the ports of entry where this is possible. Ports in Canada, Ireland, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Aruba are listed, with the Dominican Republic to follow.

Now if I can just arrange a stopover in Aruba somehow...
Tags: travel
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