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Interrogation at LAX …. almost!

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  • Jill Kinkell

    We arrived in Phoenix a few days ago. Very pleasant immigration officer. Just asked how long we were staying and stamped my passport . OH had to get fingerprinted… again

    George K

    I think it’s important to remember that this sort of treatment can occur anywhere, really. Even EU countries could ask for proof of return travel, insurance, sufficient funds, from Brits now. I would say that these three things should be readily available offline (either as a printout or saved on your phone) because your inability to produce them means that further questioning will almost certainly be more intrusive.

    can

    Do UK border force get similarly aggressive or pedantic with tourists?
    Never really thought about this before.

    What do you think 😉

    redlilly

    OH travels to the US west coast regularly with work. He even lived there for 6 months. He is Portuguese, and we live in London together. He regularly gets taken to secondary immigration. The normal routine is to make him sit there for circa 45 mins, no questions, watch him, then let him go.

    They also regularly ask where Portugal is on the map (some have mentioned that they didn’t know it was a country and others said it is near Brasil), and don’t understand that he lives in London without a visa (having settled status).

    I am pretty sure this is all based on race – as every time we travel together, I always take the lead with the passports (I normally travel on my Irish passport) and we never have any problems.

    So so so exhausting and sad.

    can

    OH travels to the US west coast regularly with work. He even lived there for 6 months. He is Portuguese, and we live in London together. He regularly gets taken to secondary immigration. The normal routine is to make him sit there for circa 45 mins, no questions, watch him, then let him go.

    They also regularly ask where Portugal is on the map (some have mentioned that they didn’t know it was a country and others said it is near Brasil), and don’t understand that he lives in London without a visa (having settled status).

    I am pretty sure this is all based on race – as every time we travel together, I always take the lead with the passports (I normally travel on my Irish passport) and we never have any problems.

    So so so exhausting and sad.

    If I were him, I’d apply for Global Entry or equivalent to see how what will happen.

    can

    I think it’s important to remember that this sort of treatment can occur anywhere, really. Even EU countries could ask for proof of return travel, insurance, sufficient funds, from Brits now. I would say that these three things should be readily available offline (either as a printout or saved on your phone) because your inability to produce them means that further questioning will almost certainly be more intrusive.

    I don’t even know how to get the policy wording for the Plat travel insurance.
    I Should figure that out.

    And true. That can happen anywhere. But its likelihood and the extend of intimidation seem to get worse in the US. “Trump’s legacy” continues.

    John

    Trump? It was like this under Obama and Dubya and Bill Clinton too.

    Rui N.

    Yeah, absolutely nothing to do with Trump.

    can

    I didn’t mean such things happened more often when Trump was in the office. I meant their policies continue further than their term.

    And I don’t see it binary. “The likelihood” certainly increased during Trump.

    Similarly, in this country, I don’t expect them to stop being hostile to tourists and students after the next election.

    Learning how to be a decent human being takes longer.

    Philondon

    I think it’s important to remember that this sort of treatment can occur anywhere, really. Even EU countries could ask for proof of return travel, insurance, sufficient funds, from Brits now. I would say that these three things should be readily available offline (either as a printout or saved on your phone) because your inability to produce them means that further questioning will almost certainly be more intrusive.

    Seems like I need to be better organised post Brexit when travelling in Europe too! Haven’t had problems in France, Spain or Greece yet though.

    Ironically my US partner has an Irish passport too so when we travel to Europe or US I joke we’ll meet in a coffee shop after security!

    alig4th

    I’ve been sent to secondary interrogation in the US before during a holiday with my wife. I’m a white British UK resident (I’d say middle class), and a UK Government employee with an official US visa.

    One brilliant question I got asked was “are you meeting anyone in the US?”. I said no. Then they asked who I was travelling with and where they were. I said I was with my wife and she got told she couldn’t wait for me here so has gone to baggage claim. The officer responded “so… You ARE meeting someone in the US!” which I politely conceded (because why be difficult back for the sake of it?).

    My point here is that I don’t think these stops are always about race/class. These are officials doing their jobs (which is to make sure those entering the US have a right to do so), so to jump to this conclusion seems a little defensive and probably doesn’t help the situation on both sides of the plexiglass because the official will pick up on the defensiveness/aggressiveness which will – actually – justify their questions and could lead to them denying entry, which they’re within their power.

    NorthernLass

    I find US immigration/customs officials a lot less aggressive these days than they used to be in the 90s when we first started travelling there for holidays. They don’t even seem to care any more if you bring food items with you – we took my grandparents to visit friends in Texas and SF once and they were given a really hard time for bringing a catering pack of (then difficult to get in the States) PG Tips for their friend who taught at Stanford!


    @Philondon
    – do you mean immigration rather than security? As the partner of an EU citizen you are entitled to enter an EU country with them regardless of your nationality so in theory you can use the same queue (I think it does vary by country how amenable they are to this).

    dougzz99

    The arsehole at IAD wanted to know the sequence of monuments I was going to be visiting during my trip to DC.
    This was amongst a bunch of other stupid questions.
    I honestly think he was trying to provoke an angry reaction.

    The ‘arsehole’ was doing his job. He didn’t give a crap about what monuments you were visiting or in what order. He was engaging you in pointless conversation while he assessed your mood and demeanour. It’s not what they’re asking, it’s how you’re answering and how you appear to them.

    can

    Are we ready to start discussing our adventures at Israeli border, too :))

    I, for one, do not buy “they are doing their job” argument at all.
    Those UNintimidating ones are doing their job, too.
    Plus, psychological profiling and behavioural observation under stress after a long trip are well well above their pay grade. There has been a lot of research about the success of profiling that showed they are simply a failure.

    And, well, does “hostile environment policy” ring a bell?

    dougzz99

    I’ve been through US border probably 40 or 50 times over the years. It’s considerably more pleasant now than it was in the 80’s and 90’s. My only really poor experience was crossing on the train from Montreal to NYC in 2014. With a land entry you couldn’t use an ESTA and had to do this thing at the border (train stops and US Border agents get on) that involved I think $7 cash and lots of aggressive no change given remarks. The tone and body language of the agents was very dismissive and arrogant, not experienced that at airport or land border in many many years.

    Oddly on a road trip to Canada last year from the US the Canadian agent at the border was freaked at my lack of advance planning combined with 6 days in Vancouver. She seemed to really struggle with wanting that long in Vancouver without definite plans, seemed further disbelief at 25 vacation days which I pointed out was not great in UK terms.

    To the person with the same name as the drug lord you can get a ‘Redress number’ I believe it’s called, that says no you’re not that Pablo Escobar, yes I know he was Colombian by my drug lord knowledge is limited.

    To anyone that plans even 3 or 4 trips to the US in the next 5 years and has the opportunity to get Global Entry do it. $100 + £42 for the breeze through immigration is worth it. Throw in TSA Pre and it’s a bargain for the time saved and stress reduction.

    dougzz99

    Are we ready to start discussing our adventures at Israeli border, too :))

    I, for one, do not buy “they are doing their job” argument at all.
    Those UNintimidating ones are doing their job, too.
    Plus, psychological profiling and behavioural observation under stress after a long trip are well well above their pay grade. There has been a lot of research about the success of profiling that showed they are simply a failure.

    And, well, does “hostile environment policy” ring a bell?

    I sense an agenda in your posts on this matter 😀

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer

    I find US immigration/customs officials a lot less aggressive these days than they used to be in the 90s when we first started travelling there for holidays. They don’t even seem to care any more if you bring food items with you – we took my grandparents to visit friends in Texas and SF once and they were given a really hard time for bringing a catering pack of (then difficult to get in the States) PG Tips for their friend who taught at Stanford!

    They rely more on self declaration these days and random searches.

    Strangest questioning I got once at JFK –

    CBP – and where do you plan to visit?

    Me – (reels off several museums) and the Morgan Library

    CBP – and what books will you borrow?

    Me – I’m not sure they’d lend me the Gutenberg Bible.

    CBP – yeah it would be a bit heavy!

    The questions aren’t there to trick you but to assess your risk of staying on after your entry period or looking for work.

    Richie

    Are we ready to start discussing our adventures at Israeli border, too :))

    I, for one, do not buy “they are doing their job” argument at all.
    Those UNintimidating ones are doing their job, too.
    Plus, psychological profiling and behavioural observation under stress after a long trip are well well above their pay grade. There has been a lot of research about the success of profiling that showed they are simply a failure.

    And, well, does “hostile environment policy” ring a bell?

    When I crossed from Aqaba to Eilat, they were fine. When I checked in at the old Eilat airport for my flight to Tel Aviv, they were fine. Definitely perfect at the domestic only airport in Tel Aviv.

    Lyn

    In my personal experience this could happen in any US airport and it is just a matter of whose queue you happen to be in. So I don’t think it is a reason to avoid LA per se.

    Although I have to admit LA is the only US airport where I have ever been sent to an actual interrogation room. You are lucky your experience was only “interrogation … almost”. My wait was for several hours, and it was a distinctly unpleasant experience, to put it mildly, after a 15-hour long haul flight. No mobile phones are allowed in the immigration areas, so there was no way to contact either my anxious (American) husband or the airline about my missed connection. They also thought nothing of splitting up an elderly Irish couple, with the wife being held for interrogation while her husband was anxiously waiting, again for several hours, for her at baggage claim. I don’t think I have ever been more grateful for the OneWorld Alliance than being able to ask a Cathay Pacific representative who happened to come into the interrogation room to find Qantas and British Airways representatives to come in and help us both to contact our husbands and reschedule our connecting flights.

    omicron

    I’ve never had any negative experiences entering the US, so it can’t be that common unless you say something they pick up on as “suspicious”?

    Sometimes they’ll ask a couple of questions about what I’m planning to do/where I’m going etc., but if I just think of it as some casual small talk while waiting for the passports to be scanned it doesn’t really come across as hostile. I’ve also been asked questions I didn’t have a good answer to, but it didn’t lead to any problems. Of course some of them might have a bad day, or actually somehow suspect you of not intending to follow your visa rules, but that can happen anywhere.

    When I travel to my home country the border officers will sometimes ask where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing etc. (only out of politeness or because they’re curious, as there are no grounds to detain or refuse citizens), but I think if I was very nervous and holding a foreign passport it could have come across as a “light interrogation”.

    One time at Heathrow the automatic passport scanner didn’t work so I had to go up to one of the border officers, and he started asking questions about what I was doing in the UK, where and how long I was planning on staying etc., but then quickly interrupted himself and wished me a nice day when my settled status popped up on the screen.

    Philondon

    I find US immigration/customs officials a lot less aggressive these days than they used to be in the 90s when we first started travelling there for holidays. They don’t even seem to care any more if you bring food items with you – we took my grandparents to visit friends in Texas and SF once and they were given a really hard time for bringing a catering pack of (then difficult to get in the States) PG Tips for their friend who taught at Stanford!



    @Philondon
    – do you mean immigration rather than security? As the partner of an EU citizen you are entitled to enter an EU country with them regardless of your nationality so in theory you can use the same queue (I think it does vary by country how amenable they are to this).

    Yes I mean immigration. Even if we’re not married?

    NorthernLass

    As I understand it, “immediate family” can enter with an EU national, and that includes a life partner, whether married or not (people don’t generally travel with a marriage certificate so they would struggle to prove this anyway). This may not always mean you can use the same queue, so it’s prudent to keep your place in the non-EU queue while your partner asks the agent if you can join them (that’s if there’s a huge difference, I haven’t found this to be the case on my last few trips though). More importantly, you’re not restricted by the 180-day rule if you’re close family of an EU citizen.

    Aston100

    The arsehole at IAD wanted to know the sequence of monuments I was going to be visiting during my trip to DC.
    This was amongst a bunch of other stupid questions.
    I honestly think he was trying to provoke an angry reaction.

    The ‘arsehole’ was doing his job. He didn’t give a crap about what monuments you were visiting or in what order. He was engaging you in pointless conversation while he assessed your mood and demeanour. It’s not what they’re asking, it’s how you’re answering and how you appear to them.

    Assessing my mood and demeanour you say?
    Well, put it this way, my mood was perfectly fine up to the point I was called forward to his booth and the stupid questioning began.
    At the end of it, my mood and my demeanour had changed for the worse.
    Maybe that was what caused me to pass like a normal person in that situation. Perhaps if I’d maintained a friendly attitude through all the bullshit, it would have been suspicious? Hmm… psychological games?

    The real Swiss Tony

    Flew into MCO with two of my kids in April. My wife and cost centre no. 3 were following a few days later.

    CBP officer was an utter dick, suggesting that one of the kids wasn’t mine as he didn’t wear glasses, asked him how many times he had been arrested and when he said none, the response was “well, we’ll see”, accused my other son of travelling on a fake passport on the basis that he couldn’t believe he was close on 6ft tall as a 12 yr old (which I’d have thought was less unusual in the US than the UK) and so on.

    I mean it’s one thing to try and elicit a reaction from a parent, but going after kids??? Thankfully we don’t have any issues like this but god forbid one of them was autistic, as I can imagine any of those comments could have been triggering…

    Aston100

    Flew into MCO with two of my kids in April. My wife and cost centre no. 3 were following a few days later.

    CBP officer was an utter dick, suggesting that one of the kids wasn’t mine as he didn’t wear glasses, asked him how many times he had been arrested and when he said none, the response was “well, we’ll see”, accused my other son of travelling on a fake passport on the basis that he couldn’t believe he was close on 6ft tall as a 12 yr old (which I’d have thought was less unusual in the US than the UK) and so on.

    I mean it’s one thing to try and elicit a reaction from a parent, but going after kids??? Thankfully we don’t have any issues like this but god forbid one of them was autistic, as I can imagine any of those comments could have been triggering…

    This is awful.

    Do the people manning these booths have the ability to refuse entry there and then, or do they have to seek permission or confirmation from someone else?

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