On our recent trip we transited numerous border crossings, each with their own armed border patrol officers, customs inspectors, baggage x-ray machines, fingerprint readers, electronic passport scanners, video and still cameras for recording face images, and rope lines for sorting and queuing people. Cameras are never allowed in border crossing areas. We processed through immigration authorities in China, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, China again, Hong Kong again, and finally the U.S.
The U.S. is the only country in the above list that does not register your leaving the country. There is no exit immigration process from the U.S. You are free to leave any time, provided you can find another country who will let you in. The rest of the countries we visited all had both exit and entrance immigration processes. Their governments have the capacity to prevent you from leaving.
Our government controls the export of products from the U.S., but people are free to go. Let that sink in.
The exportation of people, as in the U.S. population, is not a problem for the U.S. Again, let that sink in.
We transited Taipei outbound and inbound, but since we remained in the international terminal and did not legally enter Taiwan, there was no need to go through their immigration process.
The immigration drill is fairly standard with arrival cards, departure cards and customs declaration cards for those immigrants carrying dutiable goods.
Near the end of our trip, we transited both ways through the Hong Kong and China Lo Wu border crossing one day. This crossing has foot bridges going over a moat with steep 30’ concrete walls on both sides of the water, no shallow parts, and the final wall on the Hong Kong side topped with large dense coils of concertina wire facing the Chinese side. It is a formidable boundary.
There are two immigration authorities, face to face, with an international zone between the two. Everyone goes through both an exit and an entry process in Lo Wu, whether you’re coming or going. The foreign queues had much less volume than the Chinese national queues.
As visitors to China we had to previously obtain a visa, a process through the Chinese embassy in the U.S. that involved paying a fee and obtaining a letter of intent from a Chinese entity that was planning to see us. They don’t let people into their country without a reason.
Similarly, the Chinese don’t let their own citizens out without a reason. Chinese citizens must obtain an exit visa to visit Hong Kong. This is a Chinese requirement, not a Hong Kong requirement, that probably has something to do with the fact that 90% of the population of Hong Kong is made up of Chinese people who decided to not return to China. Exit visas for Chinese wanting to visit Hong Kong may be refused by the government, and it was because this happened to our friend that we met in Lo Wu that day.
Well, I guess the main point of this little writing has come and gone, but it bears reinforcing. The next time you hear an ungrateful person talking trash about some aspect of America, please remind them that the door is wide open for them to leave.