What should you do if you are detained by CBP (Customs & Border Protection) at a US airport?
With President Trump's immigration policy overhaul underway, many folks are wondering what they should do if they are detained at an airport. There have been reports that even United States citizens have been detained by CBP officials. The same report states new secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly is considering a rule that would allow CBP agents to turn away visitors if they do not submit the browsing history on their personal electronic devices While such a policy may be contrary to the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the fact that CBP has already begun demanding personal electronic devices is alarming. The question thus becomes, what should a US citizen, or LPR, do when/if they are detained by CBP?
Be aware of your rights. If you are unsure of what you are being detained for ask for an attorney.
You have probably already heard of Miranda warnings (in short, the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney). While most people know what Miranda warnings are, many have not considered their constitutional importance. Any time an individual is subject to a custodial interrogation -- an interrogation when you are in the custody of law enforcement -- the United States Constitution affords the individual a variety of protections. The chief protection is the right against compelled self-incrimination. As a result, every individual has the following options when faced with a custodial interrogation: (1) remain silent, (2) ask for an attorney, or (3) cooperate with the interrogation.
In the immigration context, questioning by CBP officials after you have been detained certainly qualifies as a custodial interrogation. As a result, if you find yourself in such a situation, you should know that you have the option of remaining silent or asking for an attorney. You also have the option of simply complying with the interrogation. Indeed, often times such an ordeal can be resolved via compliance -- CBP may just have a few questions for you for which they would like clarity. If you find yourself in such a situation, compliance with the interrogation is probably your best option. However, if you are unsure of what is going on and have been detained for an extensive period of time, we highly recommend invoking your right to counsel.
Do not sign anything until you have fully understood what you will be signing.
There have also been reports that CBP officials have presented LPRs with a document (Form I-407) that would result in the abandonment of their immigration status. With reports such as these, we recommend all detained LPRs refrain from signing any sort of immigration document presented to you by CBP officials. If you are presented with such a document, immediately attempt to ascertain the document's legal significance. If you are unable to determine the purpose of the document, immediately invoke your right to counsel and have an attorney assist you in making the determination. Under no circumstance should you sign any such document simply at the behest of a CBP official.
Questions? Do not hesitate to reach out to us.
We are here to help. If you have any family members or friends that have been effected by the Trump administration's immigration overhaul, we would be happy to assist them with any questions they may have. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (916) 246-9950.
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