James Lileks went on a trip to Arizona. He gained some useful insight into illegal immigration. Unfortunately it didn't prevent him saying something really, really dumb.
I am not in favor of illegal immigration. I'm in favor of copious amounts of legal immigration, combined with Tupperware-tight borders and a newly remade INS whose official seal says "What the Hell Do You Think You're Doing Here, Anyway? Oh Yeah? Prove it."
I've had INS officials say basically the same thing to me, and I have a US passport. Every once in a while I'll recall the scene in the border crossing office at Vancouver in which some Chip or Chuck and still wet behind the ears did everything but accuse my foreign-born wife of being a prostitute. She was so upset she had to go sit down. As she moved away and toward the benches, another thick-necked, crew-cut, beetle-browed non-entity barked angrily at her, "hey, are you blind? There are other people waiting there!" I have never not had some moment of unpleasantess from some INS person or other when entering the country since moving to Prague. As I've said before, I believe strongly that the training of immigration officers includes techniques for deliberately provoking emotional and hostile reactions from visitors in the hope that they will slip up and say something they didn't intend to. The consistency with which it has happened to my family and others I have spoken to can't be coincidental. This has been going on for years and the only result is to leave a lasting impression of unpleasantness and hostility in the minds of thousands and thousands of visitors. Better intelligence is needed to stop terrorists getting in to the country. Ham-fisted belligerence from line level INS clerks is not going to help at all. Lileks' suggestion is that foreigners in the US for whatever reason be presumed guilty and formally challenged to prove otherwise.
This is one of those bricks people will drop from time to time which make you realize it will be hard ever to read them the same way again.