CBP Officer here...Ask me anything!

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Old Jun 9, 19, 9:36 am
  #1  
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CBP Officer here...Ask me anything!

I work at a major airport. This is my 3rd POE. I haven't worked the land border and can only talk about that in regards to what I've heard. I lean more towards the Customs (baggage and cargo) side of the house, though my experience with Admissibility Secondary (immigration) is "adequate." I've spent far too much time on the line, stamping passports, as you can't escape that part of the job, even when you get some seniority and get assigned elsewhere. I have been involved in the Global Entry, APC (kiosks), Mobile Passport, and most of the newer programs CBP has been rolling out.

I've posted a bit here on Flyertalk, but by the time I have something to say, someone else has already said it. There's some knowledgeable people here when it comes to immigration and traveling, and dealing with CBP. I think I've seen a few things that weren't entirely correct.

Anywho, let's get some questions going. I feel like there are things that can be explained from my side of the desk.

Link to last AMA on Reddit
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Old Jun 9, 19, 9:45 am
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Originally Posted by maninblack View Post
I work at a major airport. This is my 3rd POE. I haven't worked the land border and can only talk about that in regards to what I've heard. I lean more towards the Customs (baggage and cargo) side of the house, though my experience with Admissibility Secondary (immigration) is "adequate." I've spent far too much time on the line, stamping passports, as you can't escape that part of the job, even when you get some seniority and get assigned elsewhere. I have been involved in the Global Entry, APC (kiosks), Mobile Passport, and most of the newer programs CBP has been rolling out.

I've posted a bit here on Flyertalk, but by the time I have something to say, someone else has already said it. There's some knowledgeable people here when it comes to immigration and traveling, and dealing with CBP. I think I've seen a few things that weren't entirely correct.

Anywho, let's get some questions going. I feel like there are things that can be explained from my side of the desk.

Link to last AMA on Reddit
Thank you.
I am far from facing this problem but the landscape is changing....
One hears/reads about seniors getting on a bus to Canada or Mexico from US border town to buy prescription drugs that are REQUIRED for daily use but they cannot afford it in the US on their fixed incomes.
What is CBP's position of such drug imortation that are strictly personal use ?
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Old Jun 9, 19, 11:21 am
  #3  
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Originally Posted by HMPS View Post
Thank you.
I am far from facing this problem but the landscape is changing....
One hears/reads about seniors getting on a bus to Canada or Mexico from US border town to buy prescription drugs that are REQUIRED for daily use but they cannot afford it in the US on their fixed incomes.
What is CBP's position of such drug imortation that are strictly personal use ?
Again, haven't worked the southern border. That said, even at the airport, we get people who return from similar countries with medication packed in their bags. The general rule is that if legal drugs are being brought in for personal use, we're ok with it. The issue is proving it's for personal use. This usually comes from the quantity. We've had people bring in a suitcase of legal drugs, over the counter or not, and claim that it's all personal use.

Followup question: "What do you do for work?"
Answer: "uh....I own a small market downtown."

If the prescription label matches up to the passenger, and it's a reasonable quantity, it's DTR (down the road). We have bigger things to go catch. If it's counterfeit medication, that can and does get seized, if the quantity is worth it for us.
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Old Jun 9, 19, 11:38 am
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Thanks for being willing take your time to do this.
There's another thread discussing non-custodial adults (grandparents, uncles/aunts) traveling with minor children having a different surname. Assuming everyone has legal and valid documents.
There are no defined documents available from governmental agencies to establish permission by the parents for this. I've carried a letter of permission with notarized signatures of the parents.
The obvious concern is prevention of cross-border kidnapping or even human trafficking.
How does CBP deal with this? (if at all)
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Old Jun 9, 19, 11:48 am
  #5  
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Originally Posted by maninblack View Post
Again, haven't worked the southern border. That said, even at the airport, we get people who return from similar countries with medication packed in their bags. The general rule is that if legal drugs are being brought in for personal use, we're ok with it. The issue is proving it's for personal use. This usually comes from the quantity. We've had people bring in a suitcase of legal drugs, over the counter or not, and claim that it's all personal use.

Followup question: "What do you do for work?"
Answer: "uh....I own a small market downtown."

If the prescription label matches up to the passenger, and it's a reasonable quantity, it's DTR (down the road). We have bigger things to go catch. If it's counterfeit medication, that can and does get seized, if the quantity is worth it for us.
Medications from abroad arenít going to have your name, or a standard prescription label on them. Thatís because theyíre OTC or no precription is necessary to purchase them.

Iíve brought up to a years supply of medication (5-6 different pills, about 5000 pills total) back from Sri Lanka last year. I had removed the boxes they came in, as they took so much space up. To be able to fit in my carryon, most were in factory blister packs. No customs even glanced at them except for Sri Lanka when exiting. No pain killers, or other really restrictive medications.
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Old Jun 9, 19, 11:57 am
  #6  
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I've entered the U.S. at a cruise terminal two times in the recent months and my experience with entering was very painless. Does the type of entry, passengers on cruise ship who most likely embarked at the same port, dictate to some degree how thorough the entry process is?

How many of your co-workers have been pulled to work the southern border these last few months?
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Old Jun 9, 19, 12:08 pm
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Originally Posted by Jaimito Cartero View Post

Medications from abroad arenít going to have your name, or a standard prescription label on them. Thatís because theyíre OTC or no precription is necessary to purchase them.

Iíve brought up to a years supply of medication (5-6 different pills, about 5000 pills total) back from Sri Lanka last year. I had removed the boxes they came in, as they took so much space up. To be able to fit in my carryon, most were in factory blister packs. No customs even glanced at them except for Sri Lanka when exiting. No pain killers, or other really restrictive medications.
Suggest you keep a boxed pills of one each
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Old Jun 9, 19, 12:10 pm
  #8  
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Originally Posted by HMPS View Post
Suggest you keep a boxed pills of one each
I did, but folded flat.
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Old Jun 9, 19, 12:15 pm
  #9  
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Has CBP senior management approved of your doing this kind of thing on FT? DHS has history of not liking some of its employees playing on social media in a way that senior management of DHS (and its constituent agencies) didn't like.

Is this AMA part and parcel of an official social media campaign to influence coverage on topics of relevance to CBP? It does matter to know if this is part and parcel of an official social media campaign to influence coverage on topics of relevance to CBP and perhaps an attempt to sort of offline criticism of CBP. It also matters to know how candid your responses and engagement can be, or if communicating about such topics in a candid way ó perhaps even exposing CBP's questionable ways ó may have to drop off because of official direction.

Last edited by GUWonder; Jun 12, 19 at 9:19 pm
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Old Jun 9, 19, 12:18 pm
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
I've entered the U.S. at a cruise terminal two times in the recent months and my experience with entering was very painless. Does the type of entry, passengers on cruise ship who most likely embarked at the same port, dictate to some degree how thorough the entry process is?

How many of your co-workers have been pulled to work the southern border these last few months?
1) To a degree, yes. Cruise terminals are some of the fairly easier posts we have. (Ideally) We know of everyone who is getting of those boats. A few visitors or crew with visas, but most everyone is a USC. No admissibility questions there, and vary rarely is anyone smuggling anything back into the U.S. of major concern. Everyone at the airport would love to be doing that instead, but the guys at the seaport don't care for it, they have even easier jobs that they'd rather be doing. Or so I've heard. Maybe one day I'll transfer to a seaport. Savannah would be nice.

2) Quite a few, mostly new guys. TDY's for a couple months.
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Old Jun 9, 19, 12:30 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
Thanks for being willing take your time to do this.
There's another thread discussing non-custodial adults (grandparents, uncles/aunts) traveling with minor children having a different surname. Assuming everyone has legal and valid documents.
There are no defined documents available from governmental agencies to establish permission by the parents for this. I've carried a letter of permission with notarized signatures of the parents.
The obvious concern is prevention of cross-border kidnapping or even human trafficking.
How does CBP deal with this? (if at all)
We get an absurd amount of minor children that return with someone who they are not related to.
Ex: U.S. children of illegal Mexican citizens are sent back to Mexico to visit grandma. The neighbor, or family friend will travel with these kids and drop them off to family in Mexico. They all return a couple weeks later, and we sit there asking these kids how they know this adult. Sometimes they can answer, sometimes they can't. They *might* have notarized documents that says travel with them is authorized. They usually don't. If they do, great. But we weren't trained to read notary stamps. From the notary in my family, I know what it all entails, and I know that stamp can't be hard to replicate, or sneak past a CBP Officer who isn't familiar with them.

So to answer the question, it's all circumstantial.

Last edited by maninblack; Jun 9, 19 at 12:35 pm
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Old Jun 9, 19, 12:33 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Jaimito Cartero View Post

Medications from abroad arenít going to have your name, or a standard prescription label on them. Thatís because theyíre OTC or no precription is necessary to purchase them.

Iíve brought up to a years supply of medication (5-6 different pills, about 5000 pills total) back from Sri Lanka last year. I had removed the boxes they came in, as they took so much space up. To be able to fit in my carryon, most were in factory blister packs. No customs even glanced at them except for Sri Lanka when exiting. No pain killers, or other really restrictive medications.
Right.
And if I cared enough, I'd open up Google (most often used resource for something like this) and see what I'm dealing with. If it's loose and just in a bag, we have a book of sorts that can identify pills and markings. But something from another country that isn't standardized with no obvious labeling, at worst, we seize it and send it off for testing (rare).
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Old Jun 9, 19, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by maninblack View Post
I work at a major airport. This is my 3rd POE. I haven't worked the land border and can only talk about that in regards to what I've heard. I lean more towards the Customs (baggage and cargo) side of the house, though my experience with Admissibility Secondary (immigration) is "adequate." I've spent far too much time on the line, stamping passports, as you can't escape that part of the job, even when you get some seniority and get assigned elsewhere. I have been involved in the Global Entry, APC (kiosks), Mobile Passport, and most of the newer programs CBP has been rolling out.

I've posted a bit here on Flyertalk, but by the time I have something to say, someone else has already said it. There's some knowledgeable people here when it comes to immigration and traveling, and dealing with CBP. I think I've seen a few things that weren't entirely correct.

Anywho, let's get some questions going. I feel like there are things that can be explained from my side of the desk.

Link to last AMA on Reddit
Be careful with what you write on here. Other DHS employees have tried the same thing here and it did not go well for them.
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Old Jun 9, 19, 12:53 pm
  #14  
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One more question, at a port of call I noticed items for sell that were labeled as a well known maker of luggage and handbags at prices so low to surely suggest knock off products.
If I had purchased suck an item how likely for it to be confiscated when entering the U.S.?
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Old Jun 9, 19, 2:08 pm
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I must say that the CBP answers on the reddit seem to be refreshingly straight, especially compared to the TSA propaganda that has made the rounds.

Has DHS/CBP management approved of this and that engagement with board posters?

Last edited by GUWonder; Jun 9, 19 at 2:42 pm
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