Skip to comments.I Am Detained By The Feds For Not Answering Questions (April 2010)
Posted on 03/30/2012 6:04:11 PM PDT by expat1000
Sherman Oaks, California
I was detained last night by federal authorities at San Francisco International Airport for refusing to answer questions about why I had travelled outside the United States.
The end result is that, after waiting for about half an hour and refusing to answer further questions, I was released because U.S. citizens who have produced proof of citizenship and a written customs declaration are not obligated to answer questions.
* * *
Why were you in China? asked the passport control officer, a woman with the appearance and disposition of a prison matron.
None of your business, I said.
Her eyes widened in disbelief.
Excuse me? she asked.
Im not going to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country, I said.
This did not go over well. She asked a series of questions, such as how long I had been in China, whether I was there on personal business or commercial business, etc. I stood silently. She said that her questions were mandated by Congress and that I should complain to Congress instead of refusing to cooperate with her.
She asked me to take one of my small bags off her counter. I complied.
She picked up the phone and told someone I was refusing to cooperate at all. This was incorrect. I had presented her with proof of citizenship (a U.S. passport) and had moved the bag when she asked. What I was refusing to do was answer her questions.
A male Customs and Border Protection officer appeared to escort me to Secondary. He tried the good cop routine, cajoling me to just answer a few questions so that I could be on my way. I repeated that I refused to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country.
Am I free to go? I asked.
No, he said.
The officer asked for state-issued ID. I gave him my California Identification Card. I probably didnt have to, but giving him the ID was in line with my principle that I will comply with an officers reasonable physical requests (stand here, go there, hand over this) but I will not answer questions about my business abroad.
The officer led me into a waiting room with about thirty chairs. Six other people were waiting.
The officer changed tack to bad cop. Let this guy sit until he cools down, the officer loudly said to a colleague. It could be two, three, four hours. Hes gonna sit there until he cools down.
I asked to speak to his superior and was told to wait.
I read a book about Chinese celebrities for about 15 minutes.
An older, rougher officer came out and called my name. Weve had problems with you refusing to answer questions before, he said. You think theres some law that says you dont have to answer our questions.
Are you denying me re-entrance to my own country? I asked.
Yes, he said, and walked away.
I read for about five more minutes.
An officer walked out with my passport and ID and handed them to me.
Am I free to go? I asked.
Yes, he said.
But we werent done.
I picked up my checked bag and was told to speak to a customs officer. My written declaration form had been marked with a large, cross-hatched symbol that probably meant secondary inspection of bags.
The officer asked if the bags were mine; I handed him my baggage receipt.
He asked if I had packed the bags myself. I said I declined to answer the question.
He asked again, and I made the same reply. Same question; same response. Again; again.
I need you to give me an oral customs declaration, he said.
I gave you a written declaration, I said.
I need to know if you want to amend that written declaration, he said. I need to know if theres anything undeclared in these bags.
I stood silently.
Visibly frustrated, he turned to a superior, who had been watching, and said that I refused to answer his questions.
Just inspect his bags, the senior officer said. He has a right to remain silent.
Finally! It took half an hour and five federal officers before one of them acknowledged that I had a right not to answer their questions.
The junior officer inspected my bags in some detail, found nothing of interest, and told me I could leave.
* * *
1. Cops Really Dont Like It When You Refuse To Answer Their Questions. The passport control officer was aghast when I told her that my visit to China was none of her business. This must not happen often, because several of the officers involved seemed thrown by my refusal to meekly bend to their whim.
2. Theyre Keeping Records. A federal, computer-searchable file exists on my refusal to answer questions.
3. This Is About Power, Not Security. The CBP goons want U.S. citizens to answer their questions as a ritualistic bow to their power. Well, CBP has no power over me. I am a law-abiding citizen, and, as such, I am the master, and the federal cops are my servants. They would do well to remember that.
4. U.S. Citizens Have No Obligation To Answer Questions. Ultimately, the cops let me go, because there was nothing they could do. A returning U.S. citizen has an obligation to provide proof of citizenship, and the officer has legitimate reasons to investigate if she suspects the veracity of the citizenship claim. A U.S. citizen returning with goods also has an obligation to complete a written customs declaration. But thats it. You dont have to answer questions about where you went, why you went, who you saw, etc.
Of course, if you dont, you get hassled.
But thats a small price to pay to remind these thugs that their powers are limited and restricted.
Thank you for the videos.
This border control stuff has some logical discontinuities at the D-mark!
I've never been asked questions crossing to and from Mexico. Otherwise they ask questions.
I resolved to never PO any of these people ~ not ever!
OK, I incorrectly inferred that you would dislike some illegal slipping through that airport and committing some crime in your hometown. All who would infer the same must also be incapable of rational thought. Agreed? Who said anything about this citizen entering the US? I alluded to the 10 illegals behind him in line who did not get the scrutiny that they may have deserved because Officers were busy with this narcissist.
Rabid dog? I’m OK with that. I’m also OK with lawyers holding the government to their standard and protecting the constitution, this BS did none of that.
Israeli airport security agents (arguably the best in the world) are trained to ask those kinds of questions. They're looking for odd answers or odd physical responses.
1. U.S. citizens and residents are subject to U.S. income tax on worldwide income, while nonresidents are subject to U.S. income tax on U.S. source income and income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business.
What is this guy's motivation? Open border activist? Personal skeletons? Constitutional crusader? Anybody’s guess.
Maybe somebody told him that with 20 referrals to secondary you get a free t-shirt.
For the record, a buddy sent this to me and I thought it would be of interest. I am not the lawyer in question.
Why are you afraid of having your underwear displayed? Wouldn’t bother me.
I’ve felt the same way this week with many siding with Tray in FL.
Admitted about 120 feet to the detention cell.
What point of law are you quoting/assuming with such a statement?
In addition, it is in error on its face. How can the person prove he is a US citizen without a passport? Are we to accept the statement of everyone at the border that they are a USC?
This is idiocy .
With a Geneva Conventions ID card when coming from overseas. With a driver's license if coming from Mexico or Canada.
I've never travelled out of the country using a passport. Orders and ID.
OK, that info is a little old. A drivers license cannot be used to prove citizenship and the US State Department has stated as much. Even “closed loop” trips, such as a cruise to the bahamas or the caribbean, require a birth certificate at a minimum.
It's pretty easy to get back in the US. With or without ID. Ask 15 million illegal aliens.
So why do citizens have to jump through hoops? And bust the Constitution in the process?
I won't ever travel abroad again, since I don't study war no more, but I still have use for an intact Constitution.
Sorry, your information is very dated. ID card and orders for military only.
For civilians, from ALL countries, inc. Mexico and Canada, passport ir REQUIRED. Even for 3 day Carribean cruise starting in Florida or a Sunday bullfight in TJ.