In another occasion, I crossed the border with 3 friends by car. The four of us were going to an academic conference in Michigan. I wasn't Canadian yet at the time but I had a visa to visit the US. They made me go inside the immigration office at the border to pay a fee. There were at least five officers inside and they all looked extremely bored and uninterested in their work. The man I dealt with asked me where I was going and after I explained he said "tell me, what will this conference do for you?" I wasn't sure how to answer that but I shouldn't have worried. As soon as I started mumbling something he turned his back to me and went to do something else. Actually, I shouldn't say he turned his back literally as he wouldn't get up from his chair, he just kept pushing himself around on his chair. They finally let me go. At the other end of the room there was this other girl who was being given a really hard time. I kept wondering if it was because she was a visible minority.
Honestly. The whole experience left me with a really sour taste in my mouth. Immigration officers have an important job to do but they are also the face of your country as far as visitors are concerned. And the first impression many people get is a very negative one.
It really doesn't need to be that way.
we came back this morning through newark liberty international airport. we wrote on the customs declaration that we are carrying food. the customs officer routed us through a second scan which took just two minutes. they asked if we were carrying fruits and vegetables and we said no. they asked what we were carrying, and we said cookies and crackers purchased abroad, and lara bars, instant oatmeal, trail mix and hard candy purchase in the u.s. (food unused on the trip being brought back with us). they said okay, sent our bags through another x-ray and sent us on our way.