US Citizen rights at passport control (in usa)

zozo
Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Hey all...



Does anyone know where I can find info about my rights about being 'harassed' at passport control from flying from an international destination to USA?



Ya see... My Dad has a job that involves a lot of travelling and therefore my parents were in the middle-east when I was born many many moons ago. With the current insanity level of checking for Homeland Security (all for it... but things seem insane..) I can already see me getting dragged in the back, mugshots, finger prints, and a fun game of "20 Questions" (NEIN! I SHALL NOT PLAY YOUR GAME!!).



I have been reading and hearing first hand reports of friends and colleagues getting treated like SH!T by US customs. I can tell you one thing, many people will NOT be coming back to the US for a while for business or tourism.



The LAST thing I want is to get harassed seeing that I'm a US citizen but just HAPPENED to be born in the middle east (fyi, in the country that probably raises the most flags right about now). And fyi, I'm faaaaaar from looking like a native of those parts... which could either raise more suspect or not... i dunno.



so... is there anything I can possibly cite in case they want to get frisky with me or is the situation really such that "in the interest of homeland security even US citizens must do as we say"?



I have nothing to hide, so I dont actually care for a fun session of 20 questions... but if it's at possible, I want to get through the airport and go have fun in NYC and see friends. I just cant stand the idea of some half assed 'security guards' abusing power giving a hard time JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN.



Having said this... anyone want to meet up in NYC in the second half of August?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    der kopfder kopf Posts: 2,275member
    I don't know of any solutions to the abuse you might take, but I can corroborate your claim that US customs officers are horrible. They are the living proof of what a power-hungry asshole you can become by just stepping into a uniform. Oh man, I still remember the look of pure disgust on the face of that piece of high-grade shit that had the important responsibility of thumbing through my passport. He did, to say the least, make my arrival in the US a rather unpleasant event. Of course, I tend to forgive these pebble-brain police force flunkees, for they know not what they do.
  • Reply 2 of 20
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 16,937member
    I'm sorry you had a bad experience. You shouldn't be treated rudely, but I'm all for the 20 questions and thorough checking before coming back into the country. I'd rather see that than what was happening before, which was NOTHING.
  • Reply 3 of 20
    zozo Posts: 3,115member
    Dont get me wrong, I'm all for the 20 question game as well, as long as I don't get simply harassed 'because they can' and want to take out their frustrations on someone who not only has nothing to hide but also a citizen of the US of A.



    I want to know what limits they have... if any.



    I know very well that the best way to get through a situation with an "official" is to nod and say "yessir, you're totally right sir, may I position myself better for your sermon sir?" and then be on your way. Lord knows how many times I've done that... just fake being humiliated, make the prick feel like they're god on earth, then go on your way.



    Still... I don't want to be "held" for indefinite times and god knows what. I'd really want to know my rights.



    Then again, juding by all the 'detainees' in Guantanamo, seems like "rights" are just something we can all just think we have.



    Anyone? some info? Do I have the 'right' to a lawyer or anything else?



    Sorry for the paranoia... I just feel I'm gonna get a lot of shit for being born in a certain area of the globe that I don't even remember.
  • Reply 4 of 20
    objra10objra10 Posts: 679member
    ZO,

    I should preface my comments with the disclosure that I am an attorney, however I am a prosecuter (with the US Attorney's Office) so you may or may not like my insight.



    When you apply for a passport, you affirm the following statement:

    "I have not, since acquiring United States citizenship, been naturalized as a citizen of a foreign state; taken an oath or made an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state; entered or served in the armed forces of a foreign state; accepted or performed the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or political subdivision thereof; made a formal renunciation of nationality either in the United States, or before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state; or

    been convicted by a court or court martial of competent jurisdiction of committing any act of treason against, or

    attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States, or conspiring to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force, the Government of the United States."



    Additionally, by using your passport, by law, you consent to be questioned and searched when traveling into the United States. You do have a right not to be harrassed, but the burden is on you to demonstrate 1.that you were subject to "unreasonable" detainment or search and 2.that said actions caused you ACTUAL physical, emotional, or financial hardship.



    It's not enough to say you were harrassed, you have to then demonstrate how that "harrassment" gravely incovenienced you.



    Do some customs agents abuse their power? Probably - but are they critical to the security of our borders? Absolutely.
  • Reply 5 of 20
    zozo Posts: 3,115member
    thanks objra,



    i never had to 'apply' for a passport myself... I've had one since I was a child seeing that my parents are also US citizens...



    anyway, I havent conspired against my country lately, so, I should be ok



    Hmmm.. harassment... yeah, I can imagine that if and when you are asked to come to a romm for further questioning their isnt much in the form of 'proof' (video/tapes/willing agents) that will be willing to give you assistance.



    Again, maybe I'm just being paranoid or whatnot, but if for some reason I should be asked to wait around for hours and hours without any real explanation, just because "they can" I'd like to know where I stand.



    can I have your tel number just in case objra?
  • Reply 6 of 20
    objra10objra10 Posts: 679member
    Zo,



    Well, there are two more important issues that need to be addressed. A passport issued to an individual under 16 is only valid for 5 years - I don't need to know how old you are, but you may want to double check. An adult passport is good for 10 years.





    Additionally, keep in mind, there's a difference, a big one in fact, between what is harassment and what is inconvenience. Keep in mind, in NYC, many of these guys have to process over 1500 people a day - contrary to what you think, they really don't have the time to sit and think "who can I harass today!"
  • Reply 7 of 20
    zozo Posts: 3,115member
    not a prob... I still have a 5 year margin on my passport before it expires. I'm 27btw.



    I think 1500 people a day is fairly optimistic for NYC... probably more like 150,000 a day.



    Its just I have a feeling that I'm gonna be ringing quite a few bells... or maybe not. I really don't know. I just want to be prepared for the worst.



    thanks for insight
  • Reply 8 of 20
    toweltowel Posts: 1,479member
    I think you're being a little paranoid. I haven't been flying back and forth between Tel Aviv and NYC, but coming across Canadian border crossings, as long as you're a citizen and have your papers in order (US passport and photoID), the level of harassment is minimal. It's still way better to be a US citizen than not, no matter where you were born.



    Just keep your expectations in line with reality. Nothing ticks me off more when I'm traveling than to hear the guy in front of me bitching and moaning that his bag shouldn't have to be searched or wanded because he's obviously not a terrorist and this is a waste of his time. Security folks are people, too, and if you act like an ass they'll treat you like one.



    BTW: "Preclude" != "include"; in fact rather the opposite, like "does not permit". Trying to understand that sentence almost gave me an aneurysm.
  • Reply 9 of 20
    zozo Posts: 3,115member
    LOL, sorry... changed preclude



    Yeah, I travel enough to know to keep to one's self and not bitch n moan all the damn time.



    That reminded me, Canada, of all the countries I ever visited, had the toughest customs proceedures I've ever encountered (and this is before 9-11). It was actually ticking me off a bit to tell the truth. They had three different controls before and after I got on a plane, etc.



    Bah... whatever... if you guys dont hear from me in a few months, you know what happened
  • Reply 10 of 20
    giaguaragiaguara Posts: 2,724member
    Zo. the last time i went to NY, .. i took a BA plane, and of all (big!!) plane they decided they wanted to search TWO (of hundreds of) people. Me, and a Mid-Eastern looking guy that had a Swedish passport. So, "who are you, where do you live, why do youo come here, who are you going to see, where you met him/them, how long are you going to stay, what do you have in your baggage," etc etc etc etc etc ... and checking EVERY item i had on my baggage.



    You could use your italian passport, BUT if you are coming from anywhere ELSE than italy in that case, they are likely to do 2000 questions to you.



    If your mum had a specific citizenshp when you was born you'd likely had less trouble. with my case, where ever i was born on earth it has absolutely NOTHING to do with my birthplace on paper - as that having been predefined = "the birthplace of the child is the place where his/her mum is resident at the moment that the child is born". So even if I was born in Iraq, China, NY, Rome, Termini, Timbuktu, Newcastle .. my birthplace would still have been the same. Which is also frustrating if I forget that and write where I _was_ born.
  • Reply 11 of 20
    zozo Posts: 3,115member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Giaguara

    Zo. the last time i went to NY, .. i took a BA plane, and of all (big!!) plane they decided they wanted to search TWO (of hundreds of) people. Me, and a Mid-Eastern looking guy that had a Swedish passport.



    Thats because you're famous and they probably wanted to see your iPod Bra



    Hmmm, did you have to show them your "Apple Mark"?
  • Reply 12 of 20
    objra10objra10 Posts: 679member
    Quote:

    You could use your italian passport, BUT if you are coming from anywhere ELSE than italy in that case, they are likely to do 2000 questions to you.



    Actually, no - if you are an American Citizen, even if you have dual citizenship, you MUST enter as a US Citizen with a US passport. To do otherwise is a big no-no....







    ZO - FYI, Individual Customs agents don't process 150,000 people a day, they each process approx 1500...
  • Reply 13 of 20
    zozo Posts: 3,115member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by OBJRA10

    Actually, no - if you are an American Citizen, even if you have dual citizenship, you MUST enter as a US Citizen with a US passport. To do otherwise is a big no-no....



    Really? I just always used my US passport out of convenience and shorter lines... never knew it was actually obligatory.



    Quote:

    ZO - FYI, Individual Customs agents don't process 150,000 people a day, they each process approx 1500...



    Ah, yes yes, you're right... I didnt catch the 'individual' Customs agents.



    Thanks again for all the insight
  • Reply 14 of 20
    giaguaragiaguara Posts: 2,724member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by ZO

    Hmmm, did you have to show them your "Apple Mark"?



    Dell no! I'd want a stamp of at least 365 days for that!
  • Reply 15 of 20
    Maybe I need more clarification here. When you enter the U.S., you have to go through immigration (is it still the INS?) and then customs. Immigration is the one making your your status is on the up and up, and that you're allowed in the country.



    Once you're in, then it's the custom's job to make sure you ate all of the sauerkraut-and-bratwurst sausage on the plane, and not bringing in contraband Julio Iglesis CDs into the country.



    I'm an American citizen (but born elsewhere), but have actually had few problems with immigration in the airports. Customs can be a pain, but more of an inconvenience (remember-- don't touch their sniffing dogs).



    However, the border between Canada and the US is another story. Everyone in my family have had issues here. (I grew up in Detroit.) At college, we had a lot of Canadian students, and students cutting through Ontario from out East. Many of them also had big issues with the Canadian border, both coming and going.



    My question is: how is it that normal citizens have issues, and terrorist seemingly pass through without problems.
  • Reply 16 of 20
    zozo Posts: 3,115member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by GardenOfEarthlyDelights



    My question is: how is it that normal citizens have issues, and terrorist seemingly pass through without problems.




    prob, because they all are TRYING to think like in the movies that the most complex scenario is happening and that it will not be the most OBVIOUS people that are the terrorists, but, alas, people that have documents (like ours) and prolly look caucasian



    "Hmmm, yeah, that european looking guy is actually some arab terrorist that had plastic surgery to look like hes NOT a terrorist and has usa documents but actually are FAKE"



    way to go McGyver



    I wouldnt be surprised if that was their logic... and yet... as with almost any situation, Occam's razor applies.



    Ah well... someday, maybe they'll learn.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    Terrorists are running accross the boarders.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Scott

    Terrorists are running accross the boarders.



    They'd be less conspicuous if they just walked.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    der kopfder kopf Posts: 2,275member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Scott

    Terrorists are running accross the boarders.



    Wow. I had to look it up, but that IS indeed big news. Terrorists are running across "A pupil who lives at school during term time." Or maybe they're running across "Someone who forces their way aboard ship". A stowaway, as they say. Looks like Tom whatshisname or whoever's in charge right now isn't really doing their job.
  • Reply 20 of 20
    objra10objra10 Posts: 679member
    Garden



    Quote:

    Maybe I need more clarification here. When you enter the U.S., you have to go through immigration (is it still the INS?) and then customs. Immigration is the one making your your status is on the up and up, and that you're allowed in the country.



    While in the past, Immigration was a subset of the Department of Justice, and Customs was a subset of the Treasury, since March 1, 2003, Customs is now a part of the Department of Homeland Security, and along with the INS were merged to form the Bureau of Customs and Border Patrol.



    There is a seperate "The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services" which handles visas, etc but it isn't an enforcement agency, more of an administrative one.
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