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Somewhat Odd Global Entry Questions at SEA

Somewhat Odd Global Entry Questions at SEA

Old Apr 26, 23, 10:56 pm
  #1  
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Somewhat Odd Global Entry Questions at SEA

After a string of facial identification entries that involved virtually no human contact, recently we landed at SEA and found ourselves in one of those slow-moving lines because the agents are questioning everyone in some detail.

When it was our turn, the young agent’s first questions were where we’d been (London) and whether we were bringing back meat or alcohol (no).

The next question was an almost accusatory “What were you doing in London?” Rather than saying we were minding our own business, we started to explain the British Museum and the British Library, where I said we’d seen surviving copies of Magna Carta, which perhaps he’d never heard of.

He’d clearly lost interest in our travelogue and switched gears to ask me how much money I was carrying. Doing my best Good Soldier Švejk routine, I told him I didn’t know, placed my wallet on the counter, pulled out the bills, and slowly started to count them. “Fifty, hundred, hundred-fifty, no, that’s a twenty, hundred-twenty…” At that point he interrupted me before I could start counting the fives and ones and said he wasn’t interested in that amount of money. I agreed sincerely and innocently said “Usually they just ask if we have over ten thousand dollars,” at which point he said we could go.

We found those two questions invasive and wonder if it’s part of some new initiative. Have others gotten similar queries?
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Old Apr 27, 23, 9:37 am
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Not yet, but would now be tempted to have some inflation-wrecked currency in the wallet - "ten thousand, twenty thousand..." - when next visiting the land of the free
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Old Apr 27, 23, 10:23 am
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CBP is not interested in the the answer; they are looking at how you answer and body language. So for example if you stated you spend a week in London but then struggle to answer what you did, then they get suspicious about earlier statement of spending a week in London.

You could have said almost anything (eg shopping/eating/sightseeing) as long as you were not struggling to provide an answer.
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Last edited by seawolf; Apr 27, 23 at 10:56 am
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Old Apr 27, 23, 1:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Fredd
After a string of facial identification entries that involved virtually no human contact, recently we landed at SEA and found ourselves in one of those slow-moving lines because the agents are questioning everyone in some detail.

When it was our turn, the young agents first questions were where wed been (London) and whether we were bringing back meat or alcohol (no).

The next question was an almost accusatory What were you doing in London? Rather than saying we were minding our own business, we started to explain the British Museum and the British Library, where I said wed seen surviving copies of Magna Carta, which perhaps hed never heard of.

Hed clearly lost interest in our travelogue and switched gears to ask me how much money I was carrying. Doing my best Good Soldier vejk routine, I told him I didnt know, placed my wallet on the counter, pulled out the bills, and slowly started to count them. Fifty, hundred, hundred-fifty, no, thats a twenty, hundred-twenty At that point he interrupted me before I could start counting the fives and ones and said he wasnt interested in that amount of money. I agreed sincerely and innocently said Usually they just ask if we have over ten thousand dollars, at which point he said we could go.

We found those two questions invasive and wonder if its part of some new initiative. Have others gotten similar queries?
Got something similar during my first time through CBP in a long time. Twenty minutes in line at SEA because the single agent was taking families (husband, wife, teenage kids) if one of them had GE. Same kind of questions.

It looks like at SEA, they've taken a good thing (GE) and trashed it. Now it's just access to a shorter line.
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Old Apr 27, 23, 5:31 pm
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Unfortunately, nothing odd about this. The gap between the CBP’s in-person/manual/verbal questioning asked of USC GE members and that asked of other US citizens has narrowed in the wake of the expansion of “simplified (biometric) arrival”.

CBP is interested in the answers from the travelers. What follows from the questioning can be based on the the travelers’ answers, the prejudices of the involved CBP employees, or both.

In 2022 and 2023 at MSP and some other US airports of entry, the combination of the questioning of GE members and the number of GE members waiting in line has at times meant that I saved time by skipping the GE lines and instead going with MPC or even the “old school” line for foreigners with visas or without.
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Last edited by GUWonder; Apr 27, 23 at 5:38 pm
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Old Apr 27, 23, 6:50 pm
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Those are standard questions for the regular lines (along with "do you have any food or alcohol?"), so the agent just treated you exactly the same way as someone without GE.

As @seawolf said above, the questioning is almost all behavioral and to check for inconsistencies rather than because they deeply care about your answer.
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Old Apr 27, 23, 7:20 pm
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Originally Posted by bpe
Those are standard questions for the regular lines (along with "do you have any food or alcohol?"), so the agent just treated you exactly the same way as someone without GE.

As @seawolf said above, the questioning is almost all behavioral and to check for inconsistencies rather than because they deeply care about your answer.
They deeply care about the answer when it means a requirement to declare. As with money and near-equivalents crossing the $10k threshold.

The behavioral “analysis” stuff is almost all prejudices being applied without any scientific evidence that a “trained” CBP employee in such circumstance as that noted in the OP is reliably better at detecting deception than a pre-school age child.
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Old Apr 27, 23, 7:49 pm
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Originally Posted by GUWonder
They deeply care about the answer when it means a requirement to declare. As with money and near-equivalents crossing the $10k threshold.

The behavioral analysis stuff is almost all prejudices being applied without any scientific evidence that a trained CBP employee in such circumstance as that noted in the OP is reliably better at detecting deception than a pre-school age child.
Well yes, they care when it comes to legal requirements such as carrying $10k or bringing in meat products. But they don't really care if you're carrying in "about $300" vs. counting out the $334.17 in your wallet, or what exactly you did in London for a week.

It doesn't really matter if detecting deception isn't something that needs a lot of skill or training (regardless of what training they do or don't get). Almost any adult can go talk to a stranger at a bar and get a feeling that something is off with them within 30 seconds.
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Old Apr 28, 23, 7:14 am
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Originally Posted by GUWonder
Unfortunately, nothing odd about this. The gap between the CBPs in-person/manual/verbal questioning asked of USC GE members and that asked of other US citizens has narrowed in the wake of the expansion of simplified (biometric) arrival.

CBP is interested in the answers from the travelers. What follows from the questioning can be based on the the travelers answers, the prejudices of the involved CBP employees, or both.

In 2022 and 2023 at MSP and some other US airports of entry, the combination of the questioning of GE members and the number of GE members waiting in line has at times meant that I saved time by skipping the GE lines and instead going with MPC or even the old school line for foreigners with visas or without.
Same here. I have noticed a couple of times nobody queuing at regular general public lanes while a dozen queue up at GE waiting for 3 working kiosks as 5 are out of order.
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Old Apr 28, 23, 9:14 am
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Thanks to all for your insights and opinions. Yes, I was mildly annoyed being stuck in a slow-moving GE line because the agents were asking every supposedly screened and approved (and paying) GE participant the painfully obvious checking-for-reactions questions.

Upon further reflection, it still rubs me the wrong way that he asked me how much money I was carrying. A few years ago entering at ORD from Europe with a granddaughter, we watched a woman with an infant in a stroller being escorted away after a loud argument with an agent because shed failed to declare the milk in the bottle the child was sucking on. Youve just lost your Global Entry, the agent yelled for the benefit of the rest of us.

Id therefore count my cash again another time, since I hadnt opened my wallet in over a week. If Id guessed, say, $200, and the agent discovered (Aha!) $500 in my wallet, Id be suspicious of how he might react. Call me paranoid, but he was just assertive enough to raise concerns. A few months ago as we entered Canada in the NEXUS lane, the Canadian agent made a fuss after discovering two legal bottles of wine in the back of our car which I'd just declared. He claimed I'd said ONE bottle. Fortunately, Mrs. Fredd was my witness. So silly...

No doubt they catch some percentage of violators or they wouldn't ask the questions. I know from my couple of decades working in public education that sociopaths as young as 12 can sometimes lie better than I can tell the truth. Morality aside, it's a practical reason for me to always tell the truth, even if I further hold up the line.

YMMV.
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Old Apr 29, 23, 2:51 am
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Fredd
The next question was an almost accusatory What were you doing in London? Rather than saying we were minding our own business, we started to explain the British Museum and the British Library, where I said wed seen surviving copies of Magna Carta, which perhaps hed never heard of.

Hed clearly lost interest in our travelogue and switched gears to ask me how much money I was carrying. Doing my best Good Soldier vejk routine, I told him I didnt know, placed my wallet on the counter, pulled out the bills, and slowly started to count them. Fifty, hundred, hundred-fifty, no, thats a twenty, hundred-twenty At that point he interrupted me before I could start counting the fives and ones and said he wasnt interested in that amount of money. I agreed sincerely and innocently said Usually they just ask if we have over ten thousand dollars, at which point he said we could go.
This is epic. Too bad other travelers with no sense of humor choose waste officers' time instead by refusing to answer questions.
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Old Apr 29, 23, 4:53 am
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Originally Posted by Ari
This is epic. Too bad other travelers with no sense of humor choose waste officers' time instead by refusing to answer questions.
Refusing to answer questions also breaks up the CBP employees otherwise boring days asking mundane questions day in and day out. But thats a more risky way to go if wanting to maintain membership in Global Entry or the other CBP TTPs.

Its also amusing at times to engage the CBP by asking questions to win one for the Gipper while eating up CBPs time and getting the moneys worth from all the stuff paid to fly back into the US and even otherwise funding the CBP.

Maybe one day we will get to a fully automated process when questions asked are not asked by a real person and the travelers answers sized up only by a computer algorithm in determining what is to follow for an entering traveler, but its unlikely that CBP is going to be a fan of seeing a massive DHS/CBP headcount reduction and thus will continue with make-work methods in the name of security.
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Old Apr 29, 23, 8:07 am
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Originally Posted by GUWonder
Refusing to answer questions also breaks up the CBP employees otherwise boring days asking mundane questions day in and day out. But thats a more risky way to go if wanting to maintain membership in Global Entry or the other CBP TTPs.

Its also amusing at times to engage the CBP by asking questions to win one for the Gipper while eating up CBPs time and getting the moneys worth from all the stuff paid to fly back into the US and even otherwise funding the CBP.

Maybe one day we will get to a fully automated process when questions asked are not asked by a real person and the travelers answers sized up only by a computer algorithm in determining what is to follow for an entering traveler, but its unlikely that CBP is going to be a fan of seeing a massive DHS/CBP headcount reduction and thus will continue with make-work methods in the name of security.
It invokes a brain scan so that machine can just mind read not what you just did recently but all your memories. No need for questioning.
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Old Apr 29, 23, 9:28 am
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Originally Posted by seawolf
It invokes a brain scan so that machine can just mind read not what you just did recently but all your memories. No need for questioning.
No time in our lifetimes will there be a brain scan capable of reading all our memories. Long before science fiction becomes a reality about mind reading any human memories, the need for travelers being questioned by CBP employees instead of by electronics had already ended.

Last edited by GUWonder; Apr 29, 23 at 9:36 am
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