Questions from Customs and Border Protection officers
I thought I'd share an amusing story about refusing to answer questions from Customs and Border Protection officers when re-entering the U.S., and an insightful response to criticism for refusing:
I Am Detained By The Feds For Not Answering Questions
BY PAUL KARL LUKACS
10 Brief Responses To 700 Comments About Refusing To Answer Questions At Passport Control
BY PAUL KARL LUKACS
Interesting .. I tend to be a 'question authority' type and I applaud those among us who will put up with the bureaucratic bulls##t that they will suffer by bucking the system. It takes a strong.. patient person to do that, I am neither.
All of that being said, I share the travel adventures of my son in law. He is a successful American business man ( and the wonderful father of my grandchildren). He is also a traditional Sikh who has a full beard and wears a turban when out in public. He has business interests in China, India and Europe and of course America where he has lived for nearly three decades. When he travels, which he does often, he tells me that he must put up with major searches, insults and suspicions. However, he tells me that the American immigrations, airport security and federal officers are the most polite,easiest to deal with and most efficient. Go figure.
do you read Lew Rockwell? Cool that we are not all sheeple.
I fly internationally every 2 months from St. Croix. Usually on Delta STX-ATL-to XXX. I do medical mission work and have been to every part of the world that needs or requests our assistance. I always find it funny that CBP requests you put your USVI physical address on the declaration form, They have no idea when I return to the territory??? Nor do they care. ( they always ask your final destination and purpose) I also agree that it is much easier to enter any other country in the world as a US citizen ( and I will say that I am a white male) which undoubtedly allows me some leeway.
Some S&P's make sense others don't. Either way here I go on a rant...
For example, when flying Westbound (usually Amsterdam to US) I spend the night in AMS and take the first morning flight out after a rest at Citizen M Hotel ( which I strongly encourage...awesome hotel which you can walk to) I approach the CBP present my passport tell them I am transiting AMS and leave on the first flight in the AM. No questions ever...Stamp me in and I'm on my way, in the morning same routine. Om the otherhand, I do not think my rights are being intruded upon when entering the US, albeit more hassle, but I expect that since we are such a large target, the price we pay.
Truthfully. at the end of the day, air travel is about getting me from point A to point B safely and efficiently to enable me to conduct my business. And if this requires me to answer a few questions I am more than happy.
One perk that I have as a Diamond Medallion on Delta is expedited CBP clearance. I am greeted by a Delta employee and escorted to a VIP line. Some may say this is unfair but that is what a loyalty program is for. I spend my money with Delta and they reward me with cerrtain "perks." And I doante all my skymiles back to the charity. (Im not George Clooney in Up in The Air) and I feel bad "cutting in line" but then you fly accross the Atlantic once a month with the same airline it is welcomed. I always decline this service since now that I have a global entry card. This is a new program that allows trusted travelers after an app and interview process to swipe a card for US entry. This is by far the greatest card I have ever held.
Back to STX CBP, they love flipping through my passport and question certain visas or passport stamps. I am almost sure they could care less about the answer but rather guage the speed of your answer. and the body language you radiate.
Since I travel so much they love going through my passport to see where I have been and always ask about my travel. I always give the same answer and sail through. I enjoy talking about my travels and rather be at 35,000 ft heading somewhere to help people rather than being detained in a airport due to me "exercisign my rights."
I was returning from Great Exuma BS last month with my wife through Miami. When we got to CBP agent my wife went 1st and went right through next I stepped up answered a few questions and noticed a red light turn on above agent booth. After several minutes I asked if there was a problem he said some times it takes a while to process go stand along the wall.
I told my wife somethings wrong! Then another agent said follow me and dumped me and wife in a holding room with prob 100 people meant to hold 75. We were the only white and English speaking people in there because I asked several people why are we hear and nobody could answer. Long story short when I finally was called 2 hours later and missed last flight of the night to Philadelphia and had to stay the night at MIA airport the agent asked how often I travel and said I have a common name ( Justin Smith) ! It makes no sence my wifes name is Mary tell me that's not more common. I told him I want an explanation and he told me he didn't have to give me one that I could write a letter. I was furious my wife was scared and crying they treated us like 2nd class citizens. When I asked one agent what to do about my flight leaving in 30 min he just said you'll have to book another!!!! ASSHXLES. Justin
I forgot to add that neither me or my wife have no criminal records not even traffic tickets.
Sometimes I think it is every so many people they have to be difficult with. Myself and my best friend went to STX for a very short winter getaway.
When we went into customs I totally forgot about the declaration forms, they gave us each one and we completed them.
I went up answered the typical questions and was through in a minute. My friend, well not so lucky. I was shuffled to security as I was not allowed to stay with her. And they detained her for questioning. "Only three days, why so short"? Just stupid questions, but questions that got her crying with no one around. 1-1/2 hours later she made it through and ripped me a new one! That Dominican blood came through!
But both of us now wiser are ready to head back again, but she said she will never go outside of the US or it's territories if it was that hard to get back.
When people say things like " I don't care what the government does, I have nothing to hide" I see red and think about these kinds of incidents. Our consitutional rights are there for a reason. The government, by and large, is not able to police itself, always goes too far and the framers of the constitution knew that. Given an inch, the government will definitely take a mile. I, like Ben Franklin (I think Ben said this) an not willing to give up my freedoms to supposedly secure my safety.
I understand the European Union has lodged a formal complaint against the US for the kinds of incidents described above.
Yup, I read about that a few days ago:
"European officials accused the United States of imposing unnecessary and overly intrusive air travel security measures, calling on the Obama administration Wednesday to re-examine policies ranging from X-raying shoes to online security checks for Europeans..."
Between the war on drugs and terrorism we have lost many personal freedoms. I would definitely suggest fighting these things with your vote. But annoying a customs agent is just going to get you sent to secondary and most likely you will miss your plane. And it will get you no closer to getting your personal freedoms back.