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6 Tips for Clearing US Airport Immigration (Customs & Border Protection)



Read More about the situation Bobby Laurie’s family encountered while going through the 
US Immigration Check-point at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

If you’re a foreign citizen and you’re planning to visit the United States there’s a few things you can do before the plane lands to help you better navigate the unorganized, unfair and mistreatment you may encounter at US airport while clearing immigration. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers are given a lot of leeway in their interrogations and the selection process for a secondary screening making each arrival a different experience. However, here’s a few tips I learned from a recent experience in which CBP decided to unfairly detain and interrogate my family.

  • It can’t hurt, and may not help, but travel with an American citizen if you can. The experience my family encountered without one greatly differed from the experience other members of my family experienced when traveling with me. It may help to show that you are in fact visiting someone, know someone or have family in the United States. That leads to number two…
  • If traveling alone, when asked who you’re visiting –make sure the name sounds American. My family didn’t mention my name when asked who they were visiting – but if they had, maybe things would have turned out differently? By saying my husbands name (he has a “Latin” name) it prompted more questions into his status in the United States, how he gained it, his employment, etc.
  • If you get selected for a secondary “screening” (or they treat you like you’ve done something wrong.. and you haven’t!) you *will* be asked leading questions and the information you give up will be used against you. You are guilty until proven innocent – if they even let you prove yourself innocent. They operate on the basis that your entry is not a right but a privilege that is not guaranteed.
  • During this time in “secondary” you will be told many lies, and you will be issued many threats against you and your family in hopes it squeezes an admission of wrongdoing out of you. You will probably feel a great deal of pressure, but don’t admit to something you didn’t do. They’re looking for an excuse to deny you entry because at this point – they don’t have one.
  • If you are detained, you will not be able to contact anyone, including your friends and relatives in the United States.  So, when booking your plane tickets, make sure your itinerary updates are sent to your friends and family via text or email. I only found out my relatives were deported when we were emailed a reservation change from the airline. CBP made no effort to contact us and we waited at the airport for over 5.5 hours.
  • This should no longer apply, but again — experiences vary — and you never know.. but hard reset your phone, or travel with a prepaid phone that is not linked to social media. A “burner phone.” Until recently, CBP was allowed to search your phone for information they can use to deny your entry.

Please remember: Most Americans are descents of immigrants whether they want to say it out loud or not. The majority of American welcome you here to visit your family, see our cities, relax on vacation or enjoy an American holiday.Further, the majority of us are disgusted at what you have to go to through in order to make your trip here.. a fun and enjoyable reality. 

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