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Immigration interrogation rights

San Diego, CA |

I'm a US citizen. I have been traveling all over the world for the last several years for fun. Two weeks ago, I came back into the US to visit my parents for the holidays. When I went through immigration, I was pulled aside, interrogated and searched for two hours. My family was called to verify my story. I was finally let through, however. What I want to know is: was the interrogation recorded even though I was not told it would be? How about the phone call to my family? Can I demand a copy of any record or reports so I know what I am dealing with the next time I decide to leave the country?

Attorney Answers 1

  1. Here are some ways to be able to understand what is happening to you, and if there is a why, and if there is any action that you can take other than NOT traveling outside the U.S. to do anything about it. Other immigration/international or criminal lawyers may have other suggestions as well. Here are some:

    1. As a U.S. Citizen, you have a right to an attorney.

    2. If you believe you are on a list, contact the Transportation Security Administration. You may file an inquiry using the Traveler Redress Inquiry Process.

    3. If you believe you are mistakenly on a list, you can file a complaint with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union):
    Now, if you think there is a legitimate reason you could be on a list-- you should seek legal advice.
    Remember, if you have one-way travel, many destinations without a business purpose or travel agency tour, these could be factors of suspicion. Terrorism, Espionage, Trafficking People/Drugs, Child Pornography-- Money Laundering, Tax Evasion, ANY of a myriad of possibilities of criminal or quasi-criminal activities are reasons for suspicion.

    4. If you contend that you were singled out due to race, religion, ethnicity,
    etc., then you need to document all the details. Flight, Airline, Airport, Names
    and Badge Numbers of Officers, and others involved. Do you have any witnesses?
    Who? Write Down questions you were asked, searches done, reasons given for your treatment, if detained,
    time and conditions.
    The ACLU has a Passenger Profiling Complaint Form on their website:
    PLUS, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation:

    A complaint can be submitted by email:
    You can FOIA your file. Freedom of Information Act. Read the Instructions. Form G-639

    As virtually all answers on Avvo will advise you, if the situation calls for it, you will want to contact an experienced immigration attorney.

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