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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23950
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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What rights do I have when returning to the US border as a US citizen?

Customer Question

What rights do I have when returning to the US border as a US citizen?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I added a lot more than this. I am not going to be satisfied with the answer if the details I added were not included with my question.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 9 months ago.
Hello, They have the right to question you about your immigration status. You have the right to ask for an attorney before you submit to extended interrogation. They have the right to search you and your luggage, even to strip search you as well, with reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, so long as the strip search isn't conducted in a public area. They can search your bags. They cannot, however, subject you to search merely on ethnic or racial grounds. The ACLU has a very informative PDF about passengers' rights at airports when entering the country. I am attaching it hereto.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 9 months ago.
All of that said, as with any other type of a stop, a failure to cooperate will get you detained while CBP checks into your criminal background. That you have the right not to answer questions doesn't mean that it's always prudent to exercise that right.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
So were my details read or not?Like I said I had a lot of details and it appears that they were not included when I submitted the answer
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I'm pretty unhappy as there were a lot of details specific to my stop
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
And it would be just-answers fault for not submitting the details
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
It's nothing against you but I wrote a lot of stuff about my stop and apparently that wasn't included and my details are lost
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 9 months ago.
I am sorry, but I see only what's on this question thread. I have no idea where you sent your other details, or how they got lost as I am not responsible for the technical maintenance of the site. Your details were neither included in nor attached to the question that I read. This dialogue between us can go on for as long as you need to get your question fully answered. So if you want to attach your details again or explain them again with your reply, I'd be happy to expand my answer to include them. If not, you can contact***@******.*** to ask for a return of your deposit.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Well I'm pretty dissatisfied with the technical issues with the site. Apparently my details weren't submitted. What a bummer as they were a lot and they were essential to the the question.Let me see if I can re-write that and you can respond to my questions and details as I originally had sent
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 9 months ago.
I understand. Sometimes I've experienced site hiccups too and lose data. Take your time. I'll be around and on line most of the day into the evening.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I asked a CBP officer why he was asking me questions about my trip from Mexico on foot. And then I was taken to secondary. I was told I had no rights, and that I did not have the right to remain silent. Shortly after I was released. However that was a bad experience and I was only asking him what was up with the questions.I asked a lawyer for free on Avvo and he saidI am not so sure the CBP was within their rights to do to you what they have done. Sure they can ask you questions to determine you are a USC but once you are a USC and unless they have some terror related suspicions, you have to let you go. They also have to behave during this entire process. You should forward a complaint about their actions to the CBP complaint board. You can find information on their website...
I was told I had NO rights at all, and that I did NOT have the right to remain silent. These people were just completely unprofessional. After a couple minutes with my hands tied up, I was released. I don’t like this behavior just because I was asking him what the purpose was of asking all these questions that do not pertain to US citizenship and I had my US passport.So basically when is this whole what do you do, where are you heading, where are you coming from going to stop?
This is ridiculous. What if i decide to go to Mexico buy a bag of chip, or just turn around and they feel like I’m lying. It's well within my rights to do thatI just want to be able to plan my trip to Spain have fun and come back without having to be interrogated about my trip or asked questions about my trip. Its none of their business.There are a lot of people that are standing up to this pointless invasion of privacy. Paul luckas is supposedly a lawyer and he stand up to these border guards but nothing comes out of it and they have him wait longer for not asking questions.Here is one guy recording the event which apparently by their rules is illegal and I would not do that even though they have one hundred cameras one youIt didn't go well for him but I feel like he has a point. The CBP officers are being overly intrusive, and its not about immigration, and its not about drugs anymore. Its just about invasion of privacy.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIC61l5OTI0
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I've already complained to my representative. Not surprisingly he already wrote legislation that will make the complaint board independent of CBPNewYork times and NPR"We routinely get complaints of unprofessionalism or abuse as people are crossing the ports of entry for legitimate reasons with legitimate travel documentation," says O'Rourke, whose district includes El Paso.He also brings up the case of a New Mexico woman who was strip-searched on her way back from Juarez last year, under the suspicion that she was carrying drugs; none were found.http://www.npr.org/2014/05/16/312827137/amid-complaints-lawmakers-seek-more-oversight-for-border-agentshttp://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/06/us/complaints-of-abuse-by-border-agents-often-ignored-records-show.html
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
So I'm glad my representatives are already aware of their professionalism. I'm glad I already wrote my complaint to him and will get in touch with him later. Maybe in person if he has a town-hall meeting
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 9 months ago.
Interesting articles. Thanks for passing them along. Apart from complaining to your representatives, did you also lodge complaints with the superiors of the officers that detained you and reported their unprofessionalism to Internal Affairs. Complaints about these agents may indeed often get ignored, but the sooner that more people lodge formal complaints when something like this happens, the sooner abuses can be curtailed.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I did complain to the CBP but I doubt anything will come out of it.The problem with CBP I have is that part of their protocol is that they ask you what was your purpose of your visit and where are you headingThat's like a parent telling their teen. Before you can come in the house sweatheart you have to tell me where you were and what part of the house you are going to nextOr even better that is like a maid telling the owner of the house. Before I unlock the door sir you have to tell me where you have been and which room you are heading to nextThe rules they have is what bugs me the most. The question what was the purpose of your visit is so arbitrary.
If they ask me that I mean what do I answer? Technically if I went to see the dentist or orthodontist and then I go site see and I only tell them I went to the dentist am I lying to them? This is why the question bugs me so much legally I have the right to freely travel. So what If I didn't have a purpose to visit the country other than to just cross and return to the US? I am allowed to do that but what will they say to me?So Zoey JD my question to you is. What is the legality then of me remaining silent?I already presented to you why I rather just remain silent. number one reason is because I can do whatever I want and freely travel and shouldn't have to tell them
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 9 months ago.
I understand your point perfectly. You have the right to remain silent. But if your refusal gives them a reasonable suspicion to believe something may be wrong, they have a right to detain you briefly, which is what they did/will do, just as if a police officer on the street asks you for identification, you have the right to say no, but they will stop you and search you if you do. Where it's wrong is if they detain you without reasonable suspicion. But if there's no arrest or no actual damages, all you can do under the law as it stands now is to file your complaint.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Wow I can't believe the laws are the way they are.There has to be more protections........Well at least I can get in touch with my representative in my city.Even travelers going in to other countries don't get asked as much questions as they do returning to their own country in the USAnyways one last question. So I go get dental work but decide to do other things site see.How do I answer what was the purpose of your visit then?
Like then If I bring souvenirs other things they'll think I'm lying technically I would be, but then I would be telling the truth because my main purpose was to go to the dentist.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 9 months ago.
I can only talk about my personal experience, which is that if I just give a short straightforward answer, they don't really follow up to verify my answers. They just wave me through. I'm talking about coming back home to the States when I say this. I have found the last several times I've left the country, I've been questioned more extensively and aggressively than usual on the European end. Returning from the UK in November coming through JFK, the dialogue was: Them: What was the purpose of your trip?Me: VacationThem: What are you doing in New York?Me: I live in Manhattan.Them: Welcome home.Me: Thanks. Is it irritating to me? Yes. I admit it is. But I'm sure I'd be a great deal more irritated by what would happen if I didn't answer the question.