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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"Welcome home": Two cheers for the INS 


The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service is surely one of our most derided federal agencies, and deservedly so. Even the INS, though, does some things well.

I was reminded of one of those things by a short passage in Claire Berlinski's book, Menace In Europe: Why The Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too. Berlinski, a Californian whose parents survived the Holocaust and fled to the United States, dated a (decidedly non-radical) British Muslim from Bangladesh while studying at Oxford. Her reflections on that relationship are the vehicle through which she explores the failure of Britain to integrate Muslims as effectively as the United States. With that background, this short exchange struck me as enormously significant:

At dinner with Zia one evening in London, I mentioned in passing that more than once, when I've returned to the United States, the immigration officer has inspected my American passport and said, "Welcome home."

"If any official here," Zia replied, "had ever, ever, even once said that to me, I would have died for England on the spot."

INS officers have often said "welcome home" to me as well, and I love it when they do. I travel abroad more than most people and find it interesting and stimulating and just plain fun, but I always love to be back within our borders. If you are a citizen of another country, do your immigration officers welcome you home on your return? If not, then we know the INS does that, at least, better than its counterparts elsewhere.

I'll write more on the substantive point -- the different experience of Muslim assimilation in the United States and Europe -- in a subsequent post.

45 Comments:

By Blogger Jeremiah, at Wed Mar 14, 12:36:00 AM:

TH,

Agreed in spades. It would be a wonderful world if, in these modern times, all of our families could embrace the sense of adventure that once surrounded global travel and come out to the airport to welcome us road warriors home with their affection and longing. While it's not nearly the same, that friendly greeting from INS folks at the US arrival ports - "Welcome Home" - is so strikingly American and so often just the tonic I need after a stretch away from the Gem of the Ocean. I'll never forget the first time I heard it - totally unexpected and welcome at the same time. And now, spoiled as I am, I feel badly if the agent on duty isn't up to the task. America is my home sweet home.  

By Blogger Andrewdb, at Wed Mar 14, 01:23:00 AM:

I agree.

They didn't do that once when I returned to LAX and I missed it!  

By Blogger Deuce ☂, at Wed Mar 14, 01:56:00 AM:

The welcome home is fine, but when you arrive late at a hub airport why do they care if you use your cell phone while waiting for your luggage? It would be nice to check on a connecting flight.

I would welcome the exchange of the "welcome back" to some common sense and less government repression of fellow citizens.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 06:13:00 AM:

As a Canadian who has travelled extensively, I have never ever heard "welcome home/back" from any customs official when returning to Canada. The drug-sniffing dogs are friendlier...  

By Blogger Mad Minerva, at Wed Mar 14, 06:38:00 AM:

Agreed, TigerHawk--I also travel a great deal abroad and I love it, though I always love coming back too. Often I also hear "Welcome home" and that just makes coming back all the nicer. Random comment: it's also darn nice to hear "Welcome home" as an Asian-American too...since "American" trumps "Asian"...

Best wishes,
MM
http://madminerva.blog-city.com/  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 10:28:00 AM:

I agree with Jeremiah in spades.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 11:09:00 AM:

As a Muslim-American I do not get to take part in your wonderful homecomings by the INS.
I travel a greatly to Egypt and Saudia Arabia and othe county in the area.
As soon as I board the airplane eyes are on me with evil. When I land the people treat me like a murderer not a businessman.
Your land is one of hate and violence.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 11:21:00 AM:

Oh anonymous, I'm so sad for you....let me get my violin and play something pitiful for you.

Oh and, btw, you can thank your muslim brothers and sisters for your predicament....  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 11:22:00 AM:

It's only nice because it really is spontaneous. I realized that the other day when, all of a sudden, *all* the cafeteria workers on campus started calling me by my first name, often with awkward pauses and glances at the receipt.

I never knew a personalized thank you could be so ... depersonalized and devoid of genuine emotion.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 11:32:00 AM:

you see already the hate and violence come to me. I am a Muslim-American but I get the shoe and the evil eye.
This country is doing evil all over the world. Islam is a peaceful religion and accepts all believers. Even non believers my join Islam peace and brotherhood.

But you are to hatefill.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Wed Mar 14, 11:33:00 AM:

Anonymous 11:09 -

Taking your comment at face value -- and I do think your words are stronger than the reality must be if for no other reason than you are not literally treated as a "murderer" -- I am sorry that any honest and lawful person is made to feel unwelcome in the United States. I am curious, though -- did you have these feelings prior to September 11, 2001? I ask this question not to create an excuse, but I am genuinely interesting in knowing whether the situation has changed, or not, since that terrible day.  

By Blogger Habu, at Wed Mar 14, 12:40:00 PM:

Dear Mr Chambers,
I hope this finds you in good health and that your family is doing well.
In previous threads this week, in particular the one concerning the Presidential firing of U.S. Attorneys, you were in full indignation over that act.
I would like to call your attention to the attached Wall Street Journal article regarding Former felon Webster Hubbel, Janet Reno and the unpresidented firing of all (save but one) of the U.S. Attorneys by President Clinton.
I believe it will be instructive and informative and hopefully ease your angst over President Bush removing less than a dozen.
Respectfully,
Habu

WSJ Article  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 01:50:00 PM:

"Islam is a peaceful religion and accepts all believers. Even non believers my join Islam peace and brotherhood. "......While I am sympathetic to your plight, presuming you're description is honest, I'd like to remind you that the people whom attacked us on 9/11 and those that attacked Spain and London were not christians, but, were, in fact, muslim. Your religion of "peace" routinely murders victims of rape, routinely murders female adulterers, and routinely commits "honor" killings. Christians and other non-muslim religions do not. Finally, regarding your assertion that islam accepts all even non-believers, what happens to those whom choose to leave islam ,those whom find it unsuitable for them ? Because muslims also routinely murder apostates. Do you suppose that the actions of your alledged relgion of "peace" and the adherents thereof might be responsible for your reception ? I await your response.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 02:51:00 PM:

America looks the other way when they use slave Chinese labor for their sport shoes. america looks the other way when they use Mexican labor to harvest their fruits for pennies. You show them the soles of your feet.
Your Christ was a good messanger.

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Mohammad was the last Prophet of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

ALLAH AKBAR  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Wed Mar 14, 02:55:00 PM:

Anonymous: "When I land the people treat me like a murderer not a businessman."

As a non-Muslim American businessman, I understand your frustration, Anonymous. What sensible things can America do to fix your problem?  

By Blogger allen, at Wed Mar 14, 03:09:00 PM:

Slaveholding in the United States ended with the Civil War and the ratification of the 13th Amendment; to wit:

Amendment XIII
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Slaveholding is still practiced within the domains of Islam.

If one has a problem with the Chinese penal code, the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate would be the place to lay one's complaint.  

By Blogger allen, at Wed Mar 14, 03:13:00 PM:

Not to put too fine a point on it, but why "Allah Akbar" instead of the standard "Allahu Akbar"?  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Wed Mar 14, 03:20:00 PM:

Keep up the needless attacks, non-Muslim commenters. You might win a blog debate and lose the war.  

By Blogger allen, at Wed Mar 14, 03:32:00 PM:

But winning in court yields points for debate and the war.

Addressing further the pacific nature of Islam, see Sudan Found Guilty of Terrorism in USS Cole Trial

Note, “[T]he government of Sudan, run by hardcore Islamists who gave al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden shelter and support, did not take, according to its attorneys, any position on the material facts of the case.”

Why do I think Darfur, when I read Sudan?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 05:14:00 PM:

In the name of Allah,the Beneficent,the Merciful

I say that the Caliphate will be again in all glory. Read your destiny.

"Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the United States..."
NEW YORK TIMES, Feb 21, 1989, p.1

"There are more Muslims in North America then Jews Now."
Dan Rathers, ABCNEWS

Even you next president knows.
"Islam is the fastest-growing religion in America, a guide and pillar of stability for many of our people..."
Hillary Rodman Clinton, LOS ANGELES TIMES, May 31, 1996, p.3

"Moslems are the world's fastest-growing group..."
USA TODAY, The population referance bureau, Feb. 17, 1989, p.4A  

By Blogger Habu, at Wed Mar 14, 05:23:00 PM:

Can somebody please find a Gen. Curtis LeMay and lets just get this thing settled. I've been advocating a decimation of Islams for two years. Who's gonna miss 'em if a few get to paradise sooner than expected.
Although I personall advocate the use of our new porcine "offal" bomb.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 05:37:00 PM:

"DEC said...
Keep up the needless attacks, non-Muslim commenters. You might win a blog debate and lose the war. "....While I can appreciate your point of view, you overlook the fact that Anon had this "Your land is one of hate and violence. " to say, without provocation. This despite the hatred and violence promulgated in the middle east for centuries and preached for by imams to this day. After reading the various posts by "anonymous" I suspect that he is just another troll attempting to stir up trouble.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 05:41:00 PM:

"I say that the Caliphate will be again in all glory. Read your destiny.".....yes, well, out here in the real world ,I say that you wipe your posterior with that.....troll  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Wed Mar 14, 05:50:00 PM:

Edward Lunny: "I suspect that he is just another troll attempting to stir up trouble."

You may be right. But we will never know for sure.

Right now American military personnel are putting their lives at risk to make Muslim friends. I see no reason to do anything that might make the work of our military personnel more difficult.  

By Blogger Consul-At-Arms, at Wed Mar 14, 06:13:00 PM:

Two points.

First, there is no longer an INS (Immigration & Naturalization Service). Its personnel and functions were rolled into the new Homeland Security department (DHS). Then the personnel and functions were split and recombined with staff from, for instance, Customs, to make, among other things, ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) and CIS (Citizenship & Immigration Services).

Crystal clear?

Me neither.

Second thing: Did you notice about the anonymous commenter, the anonymous "Muslim-American" one? The rest of those who self-identify as hyphenated-Americans do with with either national or racial descriptors like "Irish-American" (hey, St. Paddy's Day is coming!) or Asian-American.

Muslim is not a race. Muslim is not a nationality. People who self-identify as "Muslim-Americans" do so out of a political immaturity that prevents them from nationalist identification.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 06:15:00 PM:

"I see no reason to do anything that might make the work of our military personnel more difficult.".....commenting about those such as "anon" will not jeopardise the efforts of our service people anywhere in the world. "anon" will never be a friend of this country and rational people will recognize him/her/it for what he/her/it is, a raving lunatic. Patronising a fool such someone of that ilk is foolish and tends to lend the air of credibilty to them. I would suggest that they be exposed and marked as the airwasters that they are.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Wed Mar 14, 06:43:00 PM:

And I am unwilling to make unnecessary assumptions, Mr. Lunny. I have two nephews in Iraq. One is a captain; the other is a sergeant.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 07:11:00 PM:

I have a niece serving in the Navy. I do not believe that my comments will have any effect on our service people over there. The extremists are quite adept at fabricating any rationale that they may need to excuse their behaviour. Curtailing our speech and comments, refusing discussion, and/or crippling debate serves only to embolden them. I think it important that they know how we feel about their attrocities and that we will not be cowed into silence and subjagation. It is important that they know that the propoganda about the "religion of peace" is so much bovine scatology.This regardless that "anon" is, or, is not a troll.  

By Blogger allen, at Wed Mar 14, 07:21:00 PM:

Indeed, it is important to keep an open mind when dealing with Islam. Listening attentively is so important to this end. May I go so far as to say there is nothing more important to gaining an unbiased perspective of Islam than heeding the words of Muslims themselves? To this end –

From the Mouths of Babes  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 07:22:00 PM:

As an ex-pat who has lived outside the U.S. for 20 years, I am always warmed by the "Welcome Home" I get when I come back.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 07:35:00 PM:

"By allen, at Wed Mar 14, 07:21:00 PM " It's disturbing that they teach their children that way, it's disturbing that they rejoice in the aftermath, it's disturbing that they, the entire society, find nothing repulsive or untoward about these behaviours. These people truely are still living in the 9th century.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Wed Mar 14, 07:41:00 PM:

Edward Lunny: "Curtailing our speech and comments, refusing discussion, and/or crippling debate serves only to embolden them."

Agreed. But there is a difference between discussing an issue and throwing verbal spitballs at a possibly frustrated individual as soon as he walks into a room.

I am a businessman. American needs to sell its ideas around the world. Most customers will tell you how to successfully close a deal. But you can't hear their words if you are shouting rather than listening.

If the person is a troll, he is a troll. So what? Nobody closes every deal.  

By Blogger Consul-At-Arms, at Wed Mar 14, 08:25:00 PM:

BTW, I've linked back to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2007/03/re-welcome-home-two-cheers-for-ins.html  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Mar 14, 10:12:00 PM:

I call BS on the anonymous troll. Not only does he actually sound like a troll (and not like any Arab I've ever met, saying "show them the soles of your feet," what, three times? That's not even an Arab phrase, it's an Anglicization of a cultural quirk. There are other inconsistencies in grammar and phrasing) but he said:

"Your land is one of hate and violence."

*Immediately* after talking about visiting Egypt and Saudi "greatly?" I know several Egyptians, and they have very little good to say about Egypt, and while put off by some of the customs here in the US (social emphasis on the individual rather than family, and sometimes see widespread casual behavior and speech as vulgar) they really prefer it here. As an expatriate without US citizenship affiliated with the US military, Muhammad (yes, that's his name) apparently gets the shakedown from Egyptian intelligence whenever he re-enters his home country.

But on the chance that I'm wrong...

"I say that the Caliphate will be again in all glory."

Perhaps you ought to be watched with extra pairs of eyes.

"Not to put too fine a point on it, but why "Allah Akbar" instead of the standard "Allahu Akbar"? "

Depends on the exactness of the pronunciation. The "u" at the end is not a letter, but an alteration to the previous letter based on its function in the sentence. In colloquial Arabic those little additions get left off all the time because they're kind of a bitch to keep track of and it slows down speech.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 14, 11:05:00 PM:

black face sinner in the dark  

By Blogger allen, at Thu Mar 15, 12:50:00 AM:

For the primacy of “Allahu Akbar”, see, among thousands of others:

Takbir

Allahu Akbar is spoken repeatedly during the various stages of prayer, occurring five times each day. It is estimated that the phrase is used in this context at least a billion times per day.

Allahu Akbar is used in the call to prayer and for the commencement of prayer (six times). This happens five times per day.
Adhan

Allahu Akbar appears on the national flags of Iran and Iraq

Allahu Akbar appears on the constitution of Afghanistan

Allahu Akbar is the Libyan national anthem
Misc

Allahu Akbar was repeatedly used during the filming of the slaughter of infidels from Afghanistan to Iraq.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Thu Mar 15, 09:33:00 AM:

Re: "Allahu Akbar"

In this case, Allen, you are arguing with Noah about the flood. The Arabic language is one of Dawnfire82's areas of expertise.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Mar 15, 10:02:00 AM:

Can one of you guys ciscussing the Akbar deal explain to someone not familiar with the ME culture what the deal is about having a "U" or not having a "U" in that othe word?

It seems one of you guys is an expert and the other is well informed with a good many proofs.
What is going on so I'll know when the bad stuff starts here in America.  

By Blogger allen, at Thu Mar 15, 11:15:00 AM:

I wrote, “For the primacy of “Allahu Akbar”, see, among thousands of others:”

Allahu Akbar: 609,000 results at Google

Allahu Akbar: 479,000 results at Yahoo

And this is argumentative, how?

The purpose of raising the distinction was to draw attention to the dubious provenance of an “Islamic/Muslim” poster. His use of “Allah Akbar” just felt odd to me.

No slight was intended.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Thu Mar 15, 11:44:00 AM:

I just thought I would give you a heads-up, Allen. Remember, Arabs use a different alphabet.

I will leave the rest to Dawnfire82. I don't speak Arabic. As a businessman I deal with the power elite in the Middle East. English is the language of international commerce. And most of the power elite in the Arab world speak English, French, or both.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Mar 15, 12:15:00 PM:

Thanks for the explanation ... not...duh...I'll just go back to being a rube and you smart guys will berhaps deign to acknowledge a simple question.

What's so f'ing important about the "U"?

I do beg your indulgence in taking up the time of a businessman who deals only at the highest levels in the Mid East. And to the other gentleman who Google hits are prima facia of the import of a subject.

Sincerely,
Just a Rube from Texas  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Thu Mar 15, 12:29:00 PM:

To: Just a Rube from Texas

What part of "I don't know" don't you understand?

Dawnfire82 can give you the answer. He comments on this blog frequently.

Besides, he actually gave you the answer already. He said, "Depends on the exactness of the pronunciation. The 'u' at the end is not a letter, but an alteration to the previous letter based on its function in the sentence. In colloquial Arabic those little additions get left off all the time because they're kind of a bitch to keep track of and it slows down speech."  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Mar 15, 01:02:00 PM:

DEC,

Thank you for the response. I had read the earlier explaination but when the the "conversation" continued for many more comments I started to wonder if I'd missed something.
So, once again thanks and also thanks for going to a part of the world that is dangerous to say the least. Be careful, this country needs courageous men such as yourself who go to do good work with no platoon of soldiers escorting them.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Thu Mar 15, 01:08:00 PM:

Anonymous, thank you for your kind words.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 26, 01:38:00 PM:

Mexicans and Muslims are destroying America

Mexicans bring poverty, poor education, disease, poor values and more debt to America.
Muslims bring death, confusion, debt, terror and hate to America.

Mexicans are 10 to 20 million and cannot be controlled.
Mexicans do not even understand english or care about the debt and poverty they bring with them or the country they are destroying.

Muslims must change American rules and laws to Muslim law.
Muslims are immature, primative, animalistic, and have no respect for anyone but Muslims.
If anyone disagrees with muslims they will be killed in the name of God.

Mexicans live like Mexicans when they are in America with no respect for our laws.

This is all in the news.

America is doomed and Americans do not care.  

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