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Problems with US Immigration, Customs and Border Protection.

Problems with US Immigration, Customs and Border Protection.

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Old May 5, 09, 5:21 pm
  #16  
 
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Originally Posted by LA_Traveler View Post
I do a lot of TATL trips that are 2 or 3 days in length. Never had any problems with Immigration. As others have said before, be yourself and always answer their questions truthfully. The officers are just doing their job, and even though it is sometime hard if you are the subject of additional questioning, I personally don't mind a little extra hassle as it's an unfortunate part of today's social and political problems (drugs, terrorism, etc..)
I think 2-3 day trips would be VERY normal lengths for business trips whereas one day or just a few hours definitely opens eyes.

This is actually one of the reasons I've avoided intl MRs. I must look 'suspicious' because I almost always get targeted by security and/or customs even on real trips. Frequently I get targeted for secondary screening (had something like five in a row once), get pulled out of boarding lines to be searched, get grilled hard when returning from routine intl vacation areas, etc. One can only imagine what my luck would be doing a 4 hour turn overseas
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Old May 5, 09, 5:24 pm
  #17  
 
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Originally Posted by N1120A View Post
You have a constitutional right to secretly voice record any dealings with law enforcement officers (which include customs/immigration agents) in the United States and use them in furtherance of your cause in a criminal or civil case. This is actually an exception to the normal rules about secret recordings.

You can't, however, take photos or video record such dealings.
You do? Where is such a right to be found?

On what to tell the immigration officers, I follow Ricky Roma's advice:

"Always tell the truth, George. It's the easiest thing to remember." "When I talk to the police, I get nervous." "Yes. You know who doesn't?" "No, who?" "Thieves."

(David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross.)

Get used to the grilling. It's S.O.P. They ask you the same questions over and over again, even offering misleading suggestions of the answers, all to see if you depart from your story. Why? Because the truth is the easiest thing to remember. And if you're lying about why you went to Switzerland for one day, maybe you're lying about something more important.

My experience differs from the comments in this thread. SFO has been a breeze. LAX has been a real PITA for me. They don't like me there for some reason.
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Old May 5, 09, 5:56 pm
  #18  
 
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Originally Posted by Cheerfulflyer View Post
How does one avoid the hassle of secondary screening and stupid small talk with Immigration police?
Don't small talk, just answer the questions.

And if you get sent to secondary, don't get annoyed, just smile and comply.
The more helpful you are the quicker you get out of there.

Last month, the young customs officer thought my MR was strange he didn't get the whole mileage run thing so he sent me over to secondary. I was cheerful and just dealt with it, was extremely helpful at secondary, even started to open my suitcase. When the customs officers at secondary realized I had nothing to hide, they quickly dismissed me.
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Old May 5, 09, 6:14 pm
  #19  
 
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Sorry to hear about your experience in SFO. At least if you were detained for a long time there, you're already home and won't miss your next flight. What did you think of the GVA passport control? I think my passport was checked at least 4 times from the check-in area until getting on board.

I got secondary screened in IAD when I came back from FRA a few weeks ago. I still had one more flight to get home, but thankfully had a 3-hour layover. I made it through passport control with no questions asked. My companion was not so lucky, and his form was marked with a big "C" and was directed to the "other room" for secondary screening. I thought I was home free, but then while exiting customs, the officer looked at my form and said "You didn't buy anything?" and then he looked at my tiny carry-on and said "You don't have any checked bags?", marked a big "C" on my form...haha. At least it wasn't "B" (not sure what "B" means) because those people sit in another room, and just wait and wait and wait... I think I got out of the "C" screening faster. They question you about your trip, take your passport to a computer to look up something, and then rummage through your bags.

This MR, I tried to be more prepared. I printed out the WSJ article about mileage running. I bought some Swiss chocolate in GVA so I had something to declare on my form. I made sure there was a huge line in front and behind me while exiting customs. (Last time, there was no line, so the officers had free time to ask questions) I made it through immigration and customs without having to whip out the WSJ article, though there were a few questions from passport control about what I'd get out of this mileage run, haha. "My first 1P card!"

Hope your experience doesn't deter you from going on more mileage runs...it comes with the territory.
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Old May 5, 09, 7:26 pm
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Originally Posted by MegatopLover View Post
You do? Where is such a right to be found?
Jean v. Mass. State Police is one. Devenpeck v. Alford also mentions such protection, though it was ancillary to the case.
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Old May 5, 09, 8:16 pm
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I have had 'fun' with US CBP. My favourite by far was an inspector demanding my work visa to enter the US while at JFK (I am a US Citizen, on a US Passport, born in NYC...JFK is in NYC).

You can read about this W.T.F. moment here:
26/05/2008 - Do You Have A Visa To Work Here? Ummm….I Live Here (Humour From Real Life)
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Old May 5, 09, 8:39 pm
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Cheerfulflyer View Post
I agree with the charitable interpretations above. But I am not sure if the grilling processes have to be so mean and rude. I felt stunned by the manner in which I was spoken to and the whole experience still stings me like a bad infection. I had been flying for a long time non-stop or with little stop. I don't need a smile or a hug, but some respect and not taken for an evil monster doesn't seem to be asking for much.
His job is to make you feel uncomfortable. Why? Makes his job a lot easier if he makes you feel uncomfortable.

People who are made to feel comfortable act comfortable. Ever hear the phrase "the tension in the room was so thick it could be cut with a knife?"

Whoever first coined that probably wasn't feeling too relaxed at that time, either.

While 99.99% of people who cross borders into and out of the US are not criminals, the CBP officer's job is to find the 1 who is.
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Old May 5, 09, 9:16 pm
  #23  
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GREAT! Let's ask our Secretary of State make that announcement to the world that this country greets its travelers (both its own residents and foreigners) by making them feel uncomfortable. Put it in the tourist brochure too!

Means never sufficiently justify ends unless of course this is a dictatorship.

Originally Posted by civicmon View Post
His job is to make you feel uncomfortable. Why? Makes his job a lot easier if he makes you feel uncomfortable.

People who are made to feel comfortable act comfortable. Ever hear the phrase "the tension in the room was so thick it could be cut with a knife?"

Whoever first coined that probably wasn't feeling too relaxed at that time, either.

While 99.99% of people who cross borders into and out of the US are not criminals, the CBP officer's job is to find the 1 who is.
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Old May 5, 09, 9:34 pm
  #24  
 
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Originally Posted by Cheerfulflyer View Post
Hi,
I am wondering if folks had problems coming into US after an international MRun? This Sunday, I was met by a very unfriendly Immigration official at SFO who checked my passport, visa. But I seemed to have set him off after I told him that I was gone only for ONE day to Switzerland and Germany. Have others had any problems with international MRuns especially if you are a resident or citizen of US? What do you say/behave so as not to come off as a potential terrorist or drug smuggler etc, which of course they already assume. How does one avoid the hassle of secondary screening and stupid small talk with Immigration police?
Im Naturalized US Citizen originally south east Asian. Couple of months back I made a trip to Dublin as part of MR for 2 nites. I had bad experience when I returned to uS via chicago ORD Airport. I honestly told officer I went to Dublin for a short trip as I got the ticket for very cheap < $400.00. He didn't argue with me and let me in. But the Customs guys caught me as If I'm transporting drugs or terrorist. I did not have checked baggage and searched my carryon which has some prescription medication and multi vitamins. He was suspecious about Multi vitamins as I carried only 20 to 30 pills in another refillable bottle. I was so pissed of about this whole ordeal. so its better you be honest as much as you can as short trips makes them think there may be money laundering, terrorism involved in the trip.
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Old May 6, 09, 2:34 am
  #25  
 
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I don't understand getting upset over a few questions or having my bag searched. They are just doing their jobs.

Thirty hours of flying might make any traveler be less than cheerful, so I would really like to hear the other side of the story.

If you want to avoid the immigration person, then you could sign up for the Global Entry program that the CBP has, if it is in use at your int'l entry point.
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Old May 6, 09, 2:42 am
  #26  
 
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Originally Posted by Cheerfulflyer View Post
Do you know if one is allowed to make a voice/video-recording of the interaction between an airport official and oneself.
Recording/Cell Phone/Photographic equipment is barred from use in the Customs/Immigration area. (They have signs posted) Your equipment and recordings can and will be confiscated if you are caught trying to record something/one. It is illegal to record someone without their consent, especially a Federal Law Enforcement Officer. Even if you managed to make a recording of some type, if you tried to present that information as "evidence" it will be confiscated, ignored, and YOU could face a number of *Federal* charges.

One thing that has helped me out particularly to avoid dealing with CBP officers for the most part, was to enroll in the GOES system. I've done 24 hour international mileage runs since I enrolled, and the system has never sent me to see anyone else for further questioning/screening. It cost $100 to enroll, but it a small price to pay to avoid the interrogations and the long lines.

However, yes, I've been made to feel like an outsider to get back into my own country and some agents are rude. However, it's like any other profession. Being a CBP agent processing passengers is a monotonous job, and not everyone is a "people person" sadly enough.

These people are trained to be suspicious. They will assume that you may be in violation of something until you convince them otherwise. Mileage runs aren't known to everyone, and some of them will look at a 24 turn-around to Switzerland or some other country that has been flagged for some "undesirable activity" as being suspicious. However, there are those who abuse their authority. Sorry, but you can't record them as evidence of a complaint.
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Old May 6, 09, 6:17 am
  #27  
 
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If you are doing this for not so often, that's fine, but if u r doing this many times, it will be a big problem for you because u r not US citizen, CBP officer has rights to refuse entry, though highly unlikely. They can also put u on a redness list, which means you will need to go to secondary inspection every time.

at some big airpots, secondary inspection can be a very quick process, but at some small airports, it will be a big hassle. expect 2 hours or more.

Also, the experiance of primary inpection officer plays a big role here. If you meet an officer who has no shoulder stripe, that means it's a new officer, you will have high possibility of being put on redness alert list.

I was putting on the list by a new officer, so since then I need to go to secondary everytime.




Originally Posted by Cheerfulflyer View Post
Hi,
I am wondering if folks had problems coming into US after an international MRun? This Sunday, I was met by a very unfriendly Immigration official at SFO who checked my passport, visa. But I seemed to have set him off after I told him that I was gone only for ONE day to Switzerland and Germany. Have others had any problems with international MRuns especially if you are a resident or citizen of US? What do you say/behave so as not to come off as a potential terrorist or drug smuggler etc, which of course they already assume. How does one avoid the hassle of secondary screening and stupid small talk with Immigration police?
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Old May 6, 09, 6:54 am
  #28  
 
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Originally Posted by Cheerfulflyer View Post
Hi,
I am wondering if folks had problems coming into US after an international MRun? This Sunday, I was met by a very unfriendly Immigration official at SFO who checked my passport, visa.
If you need any kind of visa to get into US, I suggest you better stay away from international MR until you get your green card or your US passport. People, who need a visa to get in, have no rights in this country.

Cheers,
Polar Bear
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Old May 6, 09, 7:13 am
  #29  
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I guess I've been lucky. I've never had a problem with customs/immigration, other than a few people looking at me like I've lost my mind.

Mike
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Old May 6, 09, 7:18 am
  #30  
 
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Originally Posted by wrxmom View Post
Don't small talk, just answer the questions.

And if you get sent to secondary, don't get annoyed, just smile and comply.
The more helpful you are the quicker you get out of there.

Last month, the young customs officer thought my MR was strange he didn't get the whole mileage run thing so he sent me over to secondary. I was cheerful and just dealt with it, was extremely helpful at secondary, even started to open my suitcase. When the customs officers at secondary realized I had nothing to hide, they quickly dismissed me.
Right on the money

I went through this at LHR on an early morning arrival...the customs officer said he "wasn't sure about this whole MR thing" but I showed my itinerary, told him what I would be doing from now to flight time, my travel bag which only contained an additional shirt and smaller items...he then stamped my passport and I was on the way....
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