'I'm Not Going to Be Interrogated As a Pre-Condition of Re-Entering My Own Country' - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine

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Nice thread from Reason on whether re-entry of US citizen (in this case, Paul Lukacs at SFO) into the US can be done without explaining to Customs and Border Security why you were overseas.
'I'm Not Going to Be Interrogated As a Pre-Condition of Re-Entering My Own Country'

"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.

"I'm 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.


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I live in Michigan, and was visiting Maine (this was back in 2003). To get there, we took the route through Ontario. It's technically a more direct route that way, so I figured why not. My boyfriend had a Maine drivers license, and I had a Michigan drivers license. We had no issues going into Canada (They just asked "Got any wood?" because of the Emerald Ash Borer). However, on the way back into the country, the border guard seemed very suspicious of us. Seeing that we were from 2 different states, he asked, "How did you two meet?" That really threw me because A. It's none of his business, and B. The answer is a little complicated (We met at a macrobiotic retreat center in Massachusetts, OK! It's embarrassing enough as it is.). I thought the truthful answer would make things worse, so I just said "He just moved to Michigan with me". He looked at me for a minute, and maybe my angry stare made him think better of asking me more questions. He let us go.

David Levinson

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This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on September 15, 2010 10:39 AM.

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