If you have a different last name than your child and you’re planning on taking an international flight, you may want to go the extra mile and bring a birth certificate – or something that shows your parental rights – just in case customs agents ask for proof of your relationship.
Earlier this week, Sylvia Acosta got the third degree from a customs agent while she was attempting to get through border control at Dallas-Fort Worth with her 15-year-old daughter. Acosta says that the agents unfairly detained her and questioned her because she and her child don’t have the same last name. According to Acosta, the one agent told her “life would be easier” if she had changed her last name to her husband’s. The agent went on to ask for proof that Acosta’s daughter was actually her daughter, in the form of a birth certificate or a note from the girl’s father.
“I didn’t have any of those documents because we have traveled together internationally very often since she was a baby and I’ve never needed them,” Acosta told BuzzFeed News. “I explained that I decided to keep my name and not change it when I got married because that is the name I had built my career on and people knew me by that, and I went on and on about that.”
It took the pair 30 minutes to get through customs. Acosta alleges the agents told her she could be human trafficking without proof that her daughter was hers. Customs and Border Protection deny Acosta’s account, though, noting that the agents were only following procedures.