The Dark Side of the US Customs

Iceland glacier
Why Iceland is Better in Winter
November 26, 2012
At the top of Mt.Bromo in Indonesia
Hiking to the Active Volcano in Java, Indonesia – Mount Bromo
November 29, 2012

The Dark Side of the US Customs

My flight landed at Dulles International Airport at 6:20pm, and I got out at 11:30pm. A lot of American friends have told me, the US immigration officers are the worst people to represent their country. I agree.

Is it a privilege to enter the US?

I’ve never thought of it that way but I guess it is. At least they forced me to think so.

For my third time visiting the US, I almost couldn’t make it. Only a few feet away from the exit door, I had to wait several hours to prove myself that I’m a harmless person. I’m not abusing your system, I have a job to finance myself, and I’m not overstaying illegally. Even though I have a clean record of entering and exiting the country, I’m still a dangerous person to them.

American Flag

So why am I here?

I’m here in America to celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with Stephen’s family. After three and a half month of a crazy schedule in Europe, I was ready to be at home with a loving family. I flew into Washington D.C. from Reykjavik, Iceland on last Saturday. The six-hour flight was smooth and painless. I watched a couple movies while eating complimentary potato chips, I filled out my customs form for the US and I was ready to have some burgers in Washington D.C. We arrived at the customs line, and it was packed with people already. It was a Saturday night, at least eight flights were coming in at the same time, but the customs office was seriously understaffed. But what can we do; we patiently waited in the line. For two and a half hours.

When I approached the customs, Stephen was on the other side waiting for me for an hour at this point, and the officer gave me a look and flipped through my passport. Some of the ordinary questions to follow:

“Are you coming from Korea?”

“No, I’m flying from Iceland.”

“What were you doing in Iceland?”

“Traveling.”

“How long are you staying in the United States?”

“About three months.”

And he found my stamps from May, earlier this year. So far, he didn’t even look at me not once. I felt something was going to the wrong direction.

“How long did you stay in the United States in May?”

“Two months.”

“Do you have a family in the United States?”

“No.”

“How do you finance yourself?”

“I have a savings in my bank account.”

“How much do you have in your bank account?”

“Um….”

And we were done. He wrote something on my customs form, handed my passport and made a gesture to go. I looked at my stamp-less passport, and asked him,

“Did you forget to stamp it?”

“MA’AM, YOU NEED TO STEP OUT RIGHT NOW, COLLECT YOUR BAG AND GET OUT!”

I was certain that something was wrong. I looked down my customs form with a big yellow ‘B’ on it. What does this mean? I guess I have to find out, don’t I?

Reading about USA when I first visited the country

I headed to the gloomiest place in the entire airport: the waiting room of the ‘B’ and ‘C’ getters. Funny, how the room for the ‘random’ search was filled with a few certain races of people. By my observation, B is for the deeper and longer conversation with more rude customs officers, and C is for the bag search. I was hopelessly waiting in line, thinking ‘What if I can’t get through this? Where should I go?’ There was nothing I can do to make things better but confront the customs officers with the truth, which there was nothing suspicious about in the first place.

The room was getting busier with the same type of people, and two officers on the desk weren’t really doing their job. No one got out of the room ever since I got there. Passports were piling up, babies were crying, but no change but occasional yelling. Seemed like the purpose of this room was lock people in here, not help them to solve the problem.

“This lady’s son is waiting for her outside, and she wants to let him know they she’s here!”

A Chinese man was helping this old Chinese lady who didn’t speak English. He approached the desk and tried to explain the situation to the officers. We all waited in the customs line for over two hours. What if her son left? The son might think that his parents didn’t make it. But all they got was “Sit down and wait!” Wonder if they treat anyone like this or just people in this room.

“Kim!”

Finally, they called my name. We had a deep conversation for about a half an hour, about my finance situation and life choices. Basically, things that I had a hard time writing on Runaway Juno because it was painful, and I had to go through all that with a complete stranger who wasn’t really important in my life at all.

The reason why they sent me to this depressing room was because I was ‘flagged’. I am young and unemployed; that’s America’s least favorite type of traveler. I explained everything, clean and honest, and argued that I’m not unemployed, I’m self-employed. I’m writing, I’m freelancing, I’m earning some money to maintain my life, and all that.

During the conversation, I realized the harsh reality, once again. I am, we are, not only fighting with friends and families who are used to having a conventional lifestyle, but also we have to fight with the foreign governments. As well as I have to prove myself to the people surround me, I have to stand up for myself and shout I am legit.

“Hey, I sent a lot of people back because they said they worked online. If you work online, how can you be out of your country for more than three-month?”

Officer C, you just answered your own question while questioning me, but whatever.

The whole thing made me sad. Not because standing in the line for four hours was so tiring, not because I didn’t eat anything since I board my flight to Reykjavik, but because of the fact that I can easily be a nobody to these people. I’m unemployed. The customs saw me as same as the illegal workers. I’m homeless and broke. None of these are true, but they certainly had the power to make me feel like everything. He opened up the Pandora’s Box that is full of question marks.

At the end of the interview, he wrote the magic number on my passport: February 14, 2013 – the day I have to be out of this country no matter what. I know where I’m not going to be in the Valentine’s Day next year.

Being a pioneer is awesome. Getting wow from people is an amazing feeling. I don’t need an approval somebody else to live a better life, but admit it; it helps. All human beings are selfish and childish – we need somebody to recognize that what we are doing. But sometimes, I just want to be a normal person who doesn’t have to have a bad relationship with the family because of the life choices and doesn’t have to worry about getting questions from the immigration officers. I want to be an awesome entrepreneur and I think I’m getting there, but it is a tiring thing. Thanks to my entrepreneur spirit, I saw the dark side of the US customs wish I haven’t though.

Did you experience any similar situation in other countries? Have you ever get denied?

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .

86 Comments

  1. This is one of the few reasons I kept out of the American dream to sightsee it as a travel blogger. I have had too much of this when it happens to me and maybe, I could have seen it as an affront not to us as travel bloggers but as a race and someone whom he thinks come from Korea but was dumbfounded when you replied you flew in from Iceland instead.

    Some immigration officers are rude and I wonder why they train themselves that. No matter what, in a community where we can do virtual jobs virtually anywhere in the world, what the need for a permanent space? The questions were depressing and I share your pains Juno.

    Great you had been admitted but I am against profiling by immigration officers in the US for our passion as travel bloggers and because, certainly, they have not understood what we do best. Someone from the US Immigration Service should get hold of your travel blog and see for themselves how highly you respect America and write about it like no one else could, it will be the biggest slap on their faces.

  2. Ray says:

    Dulles is the worst place in the US to come through immigration. Last time I arrived at Dulles, the agent was extremely rude and unpleasant–the worst I have ever had in three decades of travel. Enjoy your stay and try a different port of entry next time!

  3. I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience! As far as the waiting goes, that’s not specific to Dulles, I’m afraid. Atlanta is my home airport and there were only 3 people working customs when my flight from Frankfurt came in and then another went on his lunch break. Ridiculous, I say. I’ve been questioned before in Ireland and England because they also don’t like the young and unemployed (unless you have a visa). I agree that trying to explain what we do is difficult.

  4. Giovy says:

    Never had a similar experience.
    It tool a lot to enter in the USA (from Italy) last time.
    I think it’s quite rude they asked you about your savings.

    • Juno says:

      Well, I’ve heard that they ask about financial situations because they concern that I don’t have money to go back home and stay longer than I’m supposed to. But they don’t have to be so rude!

      • Giovy says:

        In my opinion, some (not all!!) custom employees are really rude because they do not accept diversity, as many other people do.

        • Steve says:

          No, it’s not about not accepting diversity. I’m a white male and have been questioned many times by US and Canadian border officials. I’ve “gone to secondary” many times while crossing the border into Canada. However, I laugh when they express concern about me overstaying and taking a job from a Canadian. My country has more and better paid employment opportunities. Why would I waste my time in Canada

          • Andrea says:

            Health care, better pay, better employment protections, better economic stability, to name a few.

          • Yourturn says:

            Well for one, you wouldn’t be drowning in health care debt WHEN you get sick one day. Metropolitan areas in Canada have tons of jobs. It’s cleaner, we have a ton of resources. Secondly, it would be extremely difficult, much more sofor a US citizen to immigrate to Canada because you would need to have a much higher education than a BA to qualify, and you also have to be young. Oh, and people worldwide on general love Canadians.

      • chad brown says:

        I just spent 5 and a half hours at LAX yesterday waiting for my Russian girlfriend to clear customs yesterday. She was traveling to visit me for the weekend. Air France and the US Customs office were not willing to confirm that she had been detained for “questioning” which I view as an interrogation. They had a lot of questions about me that she was not able to answer such as “In what state was your boyfriend born?” The customs officials knew that I was waiting in arrivals and could have cleared up the situation with a simple conversation. Customs official Santos at LAX kept blowing me off telling me all I could do was wait. This is unacceptable. They knew I was in the terminal waiting for her to be released. She has a 3 year tourist visa and I believed she was free to come and go as she pleased as long as she did not stay too long. Two months ago, she and her daughter had no issues clearing customs in Miami. Do you have any suggestions for future visits?

        • Juno Kim says:

          Sorry to hear your that. I understand what you feel. Unfortunately, due to all the recent incidents, the customs in the US is getting harder and harder. After this unfortunate incident, I tried to enter different airports. Previously I entered via Washington DC, but now I’m flying in all over. That’s also because my travel pattern has changed, but it helped. Also I think the customs officers are trying to be more welcoming thesedays. But, I’m certain that the entree will be more difficult from now on after the recent attack in California. My advice is to prepare your girlfriend before she came, like you can write a letter for the customs (your story, where you’re born, how you met, etc.), she has to have the printed outbound ticket, things like that. They have no reason to keep you waiting if all the stories match up. I wish you good luck!

  5. Talon says:

    I wish I could say this was a rare experience, but I know better. They are intensely rude to EVERYONE, including citizens. After our last layover in the US (we’re citizens), my son adamantly does not want to go through there again because of how rude they were to everybody, yelling at everyone, etc. There were about 3 planes that had landed at the same time, and there were 2 immigration officers, 1 for nonresidents and 1 for residents. I receive such a better welcome in almost every single country I go to, and even if they aren’t happy and smiling at least they aren’t rude and yelling. Glad you got in!

    • Juno says:

      I wonder if they are trained to be rude? You know, to be the authority figure. The situation was tough as it was, and the attitude certainly didn’t help it make it any easier. Such a weird experience; the country’s own customs officers are rude to their own people.

    • I have to agree with Talon – U.S. customs officials are rude to everyone. As a U.S. citizen, I often feel like I’m being interrogated as well. Although, I’ve never been asked about my finances…which I find inappropriate. While there are a lot of good things about the U.S., it’s definitely not perfect. I hope you don’t let that experience keep you down. I think most of us, as fellow travelers, admire what you’re doing. Taking an unconventional path scares people and I think that’s really where the animosity comes free.

    • brandy bell says:

      I agree, with Talon. As a fellow citizen of the good ol’ USA, I have not been excepted from the questioning, harassment, and downright lack of education and manners.
      Returning home from only nine months of travel I was questioned for 45 minutes about what I could possibly be doing traveling that long. I reminded the agent that the world is a large place, and there was a lot more to see than Wal Marts and Starbucks. Oddly, that didn’t get me any favor 😉
      Glad you got in – in the end, and I apologize, am ashamed and angered at the way we welcome visitors to “our” country.

      • Juno says:

        It’s amazing to me how people are questioning their own people like that. But again, the US is a big country. It must be hard to control (or protect) everyone. It’s perfectly understandable why they are questioning so many people, depending on what happened to the country over the years. It’s just not pleasant when it’s happening to you. 🙂

      • Ralph says:

        Usa customs no matter if you are a us citizens they treat you like crap for them if you espend more than 2 weeks out of the country 95% they are going to hold you for investigation why you went to vacation for that London this is ridiculous

  6. Andrew says:

    Wow, what a story. Wonder if it would have been different if you had said you owned your own business. Or worked as a writer? Your last paragraph talks about getting toward being an entrenpeneur, I am curious if you just write that on the form if it would be more questions or fewer.

    Even as an American citizen, who really should have rights to enter the country they ask me all kinds of questions. Why do I live abroad? Couldn’t I find a job in the US?

    I’ve had deep conversations with German visa officials, but never the airport border people. The worst I ever had was going into the UK. She seemed almost ready to deny me because I didn’t know the address of the friend I was staying with.

    • Juno says:

      Good point. But the thing is, becuase Korea citizens are under ESTA system I don’t have to write the arrival card, just the customs form that I have to declare the goods or something. They never asked if I have a job or something; just assumed that I’m unemployed because I said I was traveling in Iceland and staying in the US for three months. They thought that I’m the ‘typical’ young and unemployed that they hate.

  7. Katka says:

    So sorry to hear about your experience! It’s funny too, because Icelandic customs is the shortest I’ve ever experienced. Entering the US has always been the worst, especially because so many international flights land at the same time. I don’t care what they say, our country racially profiles visitors. Although I’m sure there are other places that do this too, but it hurts me that my home country acts this way.

  8. In September I flew into Newark airport in Jersey. Having travelled a few years ago through the Middle East I received the following question “Did you visit the Maldives while you were in the Middle East?” seriously WTF?
    If it makes you feel better Juno, Im a white Australian and I got sent to “that room” for a few hours as well.
    They made the point that my answers weren’t clear and that they were worried because I intended to stay for the 3 months im entitled to as an Australian citizen. Im a backpacker, we make things up as we go and they just cant quite wrap their heads around that!
    The questions were confusing and ambiguous, it was next to impossible to give a clear answer, especially after an 8 hr flight from Berlin and an hour and a half to get to the first officer.

    Last week I came back in to the US from Mexico and received the exact same treatment from a customs official after the initial check in counter. The US is the only country where I ve had both Immigration and customs (usually the departments in most country’s whose sole purpose is to look for contraband, drugs etc) that can screen you about your job, income etc.
    Like you I have a virtual job and income, and to have that compared to the work of a US border protection agent is completely irrelative. she told me ‘work is work, i like to travel too but i dont take my gun and uniform with me!”
    Massive signs outlining how the immigration officials are meant to act and treat their guests has yet to be witnessed.

    Unless ur on a 2 week vacation, I highly recommend giving the states a miss…

  9. Yeeesh I’m so sorry to hear about this experience Juno! I suppose that the uside of having an American passport is that they don’t pay us much attention when entering the U.S. (heck, they didn’t even ask about my Iraqi passpaort stamp). That said, I did have an issue coming back from Toronto once because my student visa from Thailand was starting peel up and they accused me of “cutting up” my visa! To which I replied, “maybe you should ask the Thai embassy why they make their visas that way…”

    I think the closest thing I’ve had to what you experienced involved both entering and leaving Israel. Coming back from Jordan into the Palestinian West Bank was quite the exercise in patience, as I was seperated from my luggage and passport for a good 45 minutes as many other (western) travelers were waved through. The Israeli security officer teased the mostly-Palestinian crowd about returning our passports before finally calling them out. It was awful!

    And trying to fly out of Tel Aviv was another experience all together, with their intense security screening process, which netted me a “5” (on a scale of 1-6, the higher number denoting what they think your “suspcion level” is) following my interview which led to a “special” security line. It took about 2.5 hours to from the time I walked in the door to clear immigration!

  10. Rob says:

    Number one reason I avoid visiting the States. I even hate to “pass through” on my way to other locations. Most countries treat visitors with more respect but the US is trying their best to tell people to stay away.

  11. Kim, so sorry to hear this! I’m a born U.S. citizen, and fully disagree with how we treat others. I too have had to wait in long customs lines every time I returned from abroad, but at least was never harassed as you described. Just something to keep in mind, is that a large amount of the people here don’t agree with our government’s decisions, and we are happy to welcome you here. Hopefully the rest of your experiences in the country make up for it!

  12. J says:

    Sorry about your experience. Came in to the USA at Atlanta for the first time in 2011 with my American husband and our cat. My husband and I work online, too, by the way. The officials at Atlanta appeared to be trying hard to dispel the poor image their colleagues have attracted. I can honestly say that we were treated politely and graciously at every step. When I was directed to the interview room (routine for people arriving on the type of visa I have), I was separated from my husband for a short time. I asked an officer to let “the man carrying a cat in a box” know where I was, and he did. The process was really quite quick and efficient.

  13. Juno, I am so sorry that happened to you. I have heard general horror stories about US customs but never from someone I cared about. As someone who has lived a similar lifestyle of travel and freelance, it is hard to explain to people who don’t “get it.” Regardless, it should not mean you are any better or worse than anyone else who wants to come to America. It’s no wonder America gets such a bad rep with people who are not American.

    • Juno says:

      Thanks D, I never thought it would happen to me. I’ve heard a lot of stories but my last two entries were rather hassel-free. I guess it was an alarming call. Even though I explained everything to them, still they weren’t happy. Also, I think it’s unfair they act that way to the non-natives. They talk really fast and don’t really wait to hear the answer.

  14. 30Traveler says:

    I’m sorry you had that experience Juno!

  15. ChinaMatt says:

    That is ridiculous. I’ve been quite fortunate with customs, but I’ve heard too many horror stories. Supposedly, the customs officers in Newark and NYC have become more friendly over the years; maybe you should arrive through here next time.

  16. Waegook Tom says:

    Eurgh, what a horrible ordeal to have to go through! I’ll be flying into Boston next year with my Korean partner and hoping that’ll be Ok. Then again we will connect in Shannon, Ireland, where I’m told the US immigration and customs are done IN IRELAND(by what I’ve read are strict but friendly agents) so that you land in the US as a domestic passenger, regardless of nationality, and don’t have to go through international customs or border control on arrival.

    • ChinaMatt says:

      Check on the time of your departure. They had that in Halifax too, but my flight left too late to go through–the cut-off time was really early.

    • Sam says:

      I’ve been using Boston Logan airport for some time now, and I was sent to the dreaded room three times already. Every time after waiting for several hours, they (officers) let me in without telling me why I was sent there in the first place. It became to me as a way to mistreat foreign tourists for no apparent reason. I’m over fifty years old and have enough money to sustain me anywhere in the world, and have to daughters studying in a prestigious school in boston. But they keep sending me to that room.

  17. Bennett says:

    I’ve not been to the US yet but my grandparents had a change of plane on the way to Auckland at LA a few years ago. They weren’t even entering the US, but because my gran’s fingerprints didn’t match the biometrics in her passport (I mean wtf?!) they hauled her into interrogation. She wasn’t even visiting the US. Fortunately they let her go and she managed to catch her plane, but it seriously makes me wonder what the hell they are teaching their immigration officers! She’s an older, white woman and was not treated at all well. Needless to say she’ll never fly via the US to New Zealand again…

  18. kami says:

    for I don’t know which reason Polish people still need visa to get to the US, even if almost every country around doesn’t. And that’s what keeps me from visiting US, I promised myself I won’t go as long as we need visa to enter. First it’s pretty hard to get one as they question your income, work and family situation and it’s better to go to the meeting in the embassy prepared with the bank statements etc. And even if you have a visa in your passport it’s not guarantee that you can enter US. I’ve heard couple of stories about people being denied the entry when leaving the plane in US, my aunt was sent away before even boarding the plane here in Warsaw (well, that was better for her I guess)… I heard way too often US politicians saying that visa-free entry for Polish people is their priority but nothing of such happened and is about to happen. so I guess I still have to wait some more to visit US, I’m going to Canada instead!

    • KokoLoko says:

      That is because under current american legislation, polish people are still classified as thieves, therefore need to clear entrance to the territory by usage of a visa… that way they can be sure who to arrest in case of a lost wallet during flight time or lost luggage at the entry facilities.
      Yes, go to Canada instead!

  19. Florence says:

    So sorry for you, Juno!
    I think the American-Custom-Experience is so scary because you are completely at some random people’s, mercy without any defense.
    A friend of mine only transitted through New York (to Canada) and missed her connection flight – she was held up because she “looked Iranian!” She said that at least they didn’t know where her birthplace was. If they had realized she was from the Basque country, she would have been kept longer.
    I almost got into real trouble, because I didn’t take my last Visa out of my passport. The officer told me that in their system, I never left the US (nobody ever told me I had to give back the green card whe leaving the country!). But since I was in a train from Montreal to New York, even he had to admit that I apparently had left the country. Then he went to harrass a young guy, asking whether he was going to marry the girlfriend he was visiting – “whooo, we are just dating”….
    On a more positive note, my entries by car from Canada were more pleasant! I even got served in German once :-).

    • Juno says:

      My entry/ exit through Canada by car was pleasant as well! Not really a problem at all.

      I agree, it’s scary because you don’t know what’s coming. I need to prepare some document to enter the US next time – back account, my business statues and stuff. I understand their concern, but it’s just hard to get over it when it gets too personal.

      I didn’t know that you have to take the Visa off from the passport!

      • Florence says:

        Yes, ideally the border agent from the country you are entering after leaving the US should take it out and send it to US authorities (if I understood the agent correctly). Unless you want to come back during those three months, then you keep it.

      • Rachel says:

        Hey! I’m sorry to hear about your story, a similar thing hapoened to me last year in Texas. Simply because I was tired on an 10 hou flight from London & missed one question on my immigration form. Ever since it’s just frightened me, I’m now in a relationship with an American & I visited him last month but I am absolutely petrified because im going back next week for 10 days for my birthday, although I’m at university & have a job in my family I’m still super scared!

  20. Andi says:

    I am so sorry you had to go through this. Having dated 2 foreigners I have seen how ugly the dark side of US Customs really is. I’m glad they let you through in the end!!!

  21. Corinne says:

    It’s actually quite a hassle even if you have so many documents ready. I had residency certificate, a certificate that I’m a registered freelance within my country, bank statements, even a financial guarantee letter from my father. For the visa interview they asked me many questions about my job, how I was planning to finance the trip (5000$ wouldn’t be enough for 6 months), if I planned to find clients in the USA, what was the job of my father (!), what were my career plans for after my trip (I don’t even know myself, lol).
    In the end got the visa, and fortunately at the border, my officer didn’t question about my work at all.
    It seems it’s so much trouble, when you’re freelance. And probably am lucky to have an EU passport (Italy), even if my citizenship is not EU (Switzerland) which probably made them wonder if I was trying to quit Switzerland for the USA.
    Anyway, glad we both got in! Cheers!

  22. […] interesting read about US customs problems from Runaway […]

  23. Lucie says:

    Sounds like it was a tough one. And I understand your distress. It’s tough when your way of life is not recognized or understood. I had no difficulties the two times I went to the US, but it was by land…

  24. Laura says:

    This story made my heart hurt. I can’t believe how horribly you were treated in customs…oh…wait…yes I can…because I’ve been treated horribly in US customs, too!

    In Los Angeles, I was given a lecture about the evil nature of homosexuality and how I was doomed to Hell by a customs agent. We were told on the plane to fill out one household form. It was humiliating and had I been addressing the agent in that tone of voice I would have been arrested.

    Oh and then there was the time in Denver International, just last month…the guy looks through my passport and says to me: “Where are you traveling from” I told him and he kept looking through my passport: “Been to Mexico a lot” “Yes sir, I go at least once a year.” He proceeded to grill me about my trips to Mexico. As if it was any of his business. But you can’t argue with them because they have your identity, your card to pass “go” in your hands so you have to stand there and be lectured about your sexual preference or your vacation preference like you are a criminal or an illegal alien.

    I hold a blue passport and I was born an American citizen. I can’t imagine the indignities other visitors have gone through at the hands of these petty bureaucrats. What a welcome to America.

    Thank goodness you’ve been here before and know we aren’t all a bunch of assholes. It seems the only assholes are the guys working the door.

  25. Yep, there has only been one occasion when I’ve been worried that they are not letting me into a country, and surprise that was the US. Went to the immigration and got a big red card and was told to go the end of the corridor, after which there was a long interview before they finally allowed me into the country. And I was actually on a business trip this time with colleagues! And then as I was leaving, got my bag, and then got picked for a “random” luggage search when there were zero other passengers around. I was not amused.. My colleagues waited outside for an hour an half for me to get thru…

    I do hope I get to the country a bit easier next time when I’m flying to San Francisco this December. But yes, you feel like it’s always a bit of gamble if you get into the country or not. And that is not good!

  26. Hi Juno!
    Ah US Customs…I’m a US citizen and there have been many times I’ve been delayed for hours at US Customs. Most of the delays have been for reasons totally out of anyone’s control like huge lineups (although like you mentioned more staff could help), but other times it has been for reasons like the ones you mentioned.

    I worked for a few years in archaeology and I made numerous trips to the middle east…suspicious…I suppose, but I was a student and if you’re going to be an archaeologist anywhere the best place has got to be the middle east! So I’d explain..”I’m a student” “I’m American” “I go to university in Canada” “Because education there is more affordable” and “archaeology is awesome, so I’ll travel anywhere just to dig up something new and exciting!”. I think I’ve been lucky though because most of the time after learning that I’m an archaeologist the customs officer would be come interested in my field of study and then ask me questions just to make their own day more interesting like; “What was the best thing you’ve discovered?!” or “Do you get to keep what you find?!” After waiting in a line for 2 or more hours answering questions like this were a little annoying, but in my case I’d of course oblige and answer because it was a great way to educate another person and let them know that archaeolgists dig up human culture and remains…not dinosaurs! 😛 Getting officers like this were always better than the grumpy suspicious ones.

    I hope customs doesn’t deter you from visiting the US in the future, some customs people are really great, and others, well it’s a total hit or miss… I hope you had a great time celebrating Thanksgiving stateside!
    -Gaby

  27. Melvin says:

    I would like to know if there is also a bright side. Daydreaming… hahaha

  28. Randy says:

    As an American, I can only say that I’m sorry you had this experience. But Im not surprised either. I travel all over the world and sometimes returning back to the USA feels like coming into a third-world country.

    • KokoLoko says:

      Prejudicial and discriminatory much with a small touch of american greatness… I think it would have been more appropriate to say “feels like coming into a different country”… Just because other countries are not as “glorious” as america! doesnt mean third world means crap… there are good and bad people in every corner in every country in this world, you may travel to a civilized place on earth and get the stupidest officer available at that moment, or go to a crappy-low third-world country and be welcomed by a great person, and believe me, they dont treat you well because you are an american and you are entitled.
      Your comment shows the kind of attitude that is sinking this world.

      • Steve says:

        Oddly, I’ve frequently visited so called 3rd world countries such as the philippines. They don’t even look up at me or run my passport through a database; just stamp it and away I go.

        On the surface, it makes sense since foreigners do not enter that country to work, just spend their money.

        I think the US Customs officers are right to question a person’s ability to support him or herself since the US is an attractive job market for many visitors from overseas and there are many cases of people who overstay and dissapear into the economy.

        As for self-employed types, customs officials need to realize that we live in the 21st century now and that there are many folks who own their own micro businesses, blogs, etc.

  29. I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience and I hope it doesn’t tarnish the rest of your experience in the US. It seems like a lot of countries have “intimidating” customs or entry procedures.

  30. Leslie says:

    Ugh! So sorry you had to go through this Juno. I’ve heard US customs can be intense. Sad they showed you so little professionalism or basic understanding of working remotely!

  31. […] It warms my heart to know that there’s a place welcomes me somewhere in the world. I hope the Customs won’t deny my entry next […]

  32. Sofie says:

    So sorry about you’re experience!
    I’ve never had anything like that happen to me, but once, my parents were traveling to the states and they had a layover in Washington. For some reason, my mom’s finger prints didn’t take well on the scanning machine and that made her ‘suspicious’. She was lead to room full of (supposedly) illegal Mexican immigrants and my father couldn’t do anything but wait outside. They barely made their next flight.
    They were rude to my mom, but she said it was even worse for the Mexicans. My mom speaks Spanish and she was ashamed to hear what those officers were yelling at the other people in the room.

    I cannot believe anyone would want to perform their job in such a way…

  33. Bern says:

    Quite an unfortunate experience you endured. You have the right perspective, it’s a challenge to get into the US with a travel blogger profile. — for all the reasons cited in the responses. Yet you keep your head high and not be deterred. The attitude that “it’s gonna suck but it will pass” is the right perspective. US Customs is the least user-friendly govt agency in TheLandOfTheFreeHomeOfTheBrave. Trust and confidence in agencies created by and for is citizens are deteriorating rapidly. This is a country that learned a hard lesson of unpreparedness in 9-11 and still dealing with the aftermath over a decade later. There’s no excuse for the act that USCustoms is still at pre 9-11 staffing w/ what I deem are incompetent people, untrained, unsophisticated, and bottom-of-the-food-chain types who are fighting for continued employability. I’m with you. If I let this keep me from visiting the countries I want to visit, then Incheon AirPort will be the only place I’m comfortable with 🙂 Keep on Rolling! Best to you. Buon Viaggio!

  34. Anna says:

    Sorry to hear about your horrible experience!
    Your observations are probably true about the racial biased, but my friend who is Scandinavian (not blond though 🙂 and works as a doctor was also taken to that room B -for the only reason that she had travelled to US already once before that same year and they wondered how she can afford it 🙂

    There’s an amazingly touching Brazilian film called The Blue Eyes. It’s a drama taking place at the US customs -recommend it to everybody!

  35. Haha fun times… I always dumb down my work on immigration forms and usually just write “Management.” It’s simpler that way. Writer and Online work always raise suspicions.

    As for troubles entering other countries, though I went in and out of Israel 3 times, entering the last time took FOREVER because they thought my carryon bag needed additional screening (this was crossing into the West Bank from Jordan). Sorry you went through such an ordeal!

  36. Steff says:

    Had pretty much the same problem..have Multiple Sclerosis..disabled.. want to spend time with my girlfriend and she’s from the USA.. Almost got sent back to Germany on May 10th..but they were too busy (they were sending 27 kids back..so too much paperwork) otherwise I would have been put on next airplane to Germany or wherever. Still shocked, sad and desperated..Thought it’s legit to travel with the visa waiver program..but I guess it’s up to who’s the one that stamps the passport when you arrive.

  37. Josie says:

    I’m reading this post. I’m no stranger to being detained by customs every time i arrive from other countries. Not a US citizen but lived here for most of my life and every time i have to wait on my whole FBI sheet before they let me in. Basically, i go through the same questioning every time. You would think they could just keep the record and refer to it every time but no, its like it was my very first time coming in every single time.

  38. Johny Massagee says:

    I recall about 19 men who came to the US, lived here, studied here, went to strip joints here, learned to Fly here, then they hijacked aircraft, plowed on into a field with almost 300 people on it, flew another into the pentagon and then two more into the World trade center. over 3000 people from over 135 different countries were killed on american soil in a single day.

    So when you get asked a few questions about what you are planning to do in the US and where your funding comes from, and you don’t want to answer, stay home or go to some country where you get kidnapped or blown up in a cafe. The united states is a great country, and it is great because a lot of people died to make it possible to be great. We have a right to defend our boarders and protect our citizens from those who try to kill us, steal our military and commercial technology, or just generally freeload off our open markets and universities. A single, young Korean woman traveling in the US without family or relatives fits the profile of the kind of single, Korean woman that gets trafficked for sex work. human trafficking is illegal in the US. So is terrorism.

    If you dont like our security processes, go to mexico.

    • Sandy Parker says:

      While I do believe that these officers are just doing their jobs, I believe it’s not the actual questioning that’s appalling. It’s not the act of questioning, but HOW they question. You CAN question people without being rude. And their choice of words are really poor.

    • justpassingby says:

      i agree. what irritates me the most is ” Is it a privilege to enter the US?” yet keeps on coming back 5 month out of a year is not tourism.

    • elizabeth says:

      My son flew into Boston Logan airport with a return air ticket and reservations for youth hostels for two weeks alone with coach reservations to travel around, cash and a credit card. He is British and French since I am British and his father is French. I would add real European, White British/French not Muslim/immigrant British French. Came with an ESTA for five weeks holiday before starting his master’s at university in France. He was held for three hours accused of wanting to immigrate illegally. 15 per cent of illegal immigrants come from the entire continent of Europe. Is this justification for him almost being sent back? If the USA does not want visitors that is fine. No-one in my family will ever be going back! A single young British man traveling in the US without family or relatives is called a tourist normally but that is in ‘normal’ land, not the US of A!

  39. XiaoMu says:

    All I can say sorry for that happening to u …… but I’m thankful that I read this ….I’ll never ever try to visit US ….

  40. carlos says:

    it’s sad to hear all these bad comments and feedback about customs. Do you realized that they are our first line of defense against terrorism? Go look at the cbp website and you will find out the amount of drugs, impostors, possible links to terrorism, and smugglers that cbp found every single day. Go look at it and you will be thankful that they are asking so many questions. Or how do you think they have found all these criminal activities? It’s easy to critique and complaint but the truth is that they are doing an awesome job in protecting our country. Don’t believe, believe the stats!

  41. Jane says:

    I am an American citizen by birth. I am a veteran of a foreign war as a result of fighting in the usaf. My user name is fake as my privacy is something I take seriously. Many changes have been made detrimentally to our freedoms since 9-11. If your reference point is FOX news, please write the worth ‘TRUTH’ after the term 9-11 on your search engine and inform yourself more accurately.

    I am a housewife who lives internationally and travel at leisure many times a year. My last entry to the U.S. via Dulles sent me to IMMIGRATION AUTHORITIES. Why? Not sure. Upon arrival to their dirty room, I was asked to open my baggages for Inspection by an immigrations officer. He opened my large bag first. (Discovered clothes, HOLY Shit, what a surprise!) next, he opened my carry on, which contained fur vests, neck furs and branded valuables. He asked me FIVE times if any of the items I was carrying with me were GIFTS? He picked up everything that ‘caught’ his greedy eye’s attention, and asked, ‘Is this a gift?’
    He initiated these repetitive inquiries with: ARE YOU SURE THAT YOU DO NOT WISH TO CHANGE YOUR RESPONSES TO THE FORM THAT YOU CHECKED ‘NO’ to all of the boxes? I replied, ‘Yes, I am sure.’ He repeated himself and I assured him that I answered everything correctly.
    After the 5th time of repeating the question reference g gifts, he asked, ‘Do you have any jewelry that will be used as a gift?’ The answer was ‘No’ but at this point, I’m offended. I said, ‘NO! And, Why are you so obsessed with asking me about gifts?’
    He replied, ‘Do NOT use profanity to me. Do you wish to go to jail today?’
    Then, he opened my purse and my WALLET! He opened almost everything in my purse without speaking. It made him uncomfortable. His non-bal language suggested his embarrassment to the point that he handed everything back to me and said, you’re free to go.
    Go where, I thought.i already missed my flight, which he was aware of because I showed him my connection ticket.

    Both of my parents are Americans. I graduated from the same high school as my mother.

    And the only inquiries I received were referencing finances. How does that affect the natural security of the United states? Yeah I have money, so what? Don’t ask for things that don’t belong to you?
    The U.S. government recently launched a campaign into financial institutions overseas where we live. They insisted that banks give financial information to the U.S. government of all U.S. citizens in the country. The banks REFUSED due to privacy infrengment. So, plan B is to grill the citizens in IMMIGRATION, I guess. At best, its a joke. At worstc it’s a crime.

  42. Lisa says:

    This made me want to cry. I’m sorry to hear you were treated this way. This country is extremely racist and it doesn’t help that there are people who say that white privilege doesn’t exist. When I was going back into the country, I noticed that the foreigners line was very long and the customs officers staffed for this line were ALL white. I have no doubt that this was a deliberate decision to antagonize and frighten the visitors. These officers only spoke English only adding more pressure for the foreigners who the officers probably barked at for not speaking perfect english. I am a us citizen but foreign born and still experience racism. It hurts my heart to hear the things that people of color have to go through. White people will never understand the heartache and hardship we have to go through. They will just continue to cast aspersions and call use “n**gers” and “ch*nks” and “illegal” while complaining about “reverse racism.” It makes me really hate this country.

  43. Marc says:

    I live in Windsor, Ontario (CANADA) which is about 5 minutes from Detroit, Michigan. Growing up, we used to cross the border all the time to see friends in Michigan, go to restaurants, Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Lions games and do a lot of shopping (even w/ a strong US dollar). We loved America and felt very welcomed there (especially businesses that thrive on Canadian customers and the money we love to spend in Detroit. Trust me, Detroit needs money and business badly, and we are happy to spend money there. Also, when we fly somewhere, we love to fly out of Detroit rather than flying out of Toronto because it’s much cheaper to fly out of Detroit – MUCH cheaper.

    However, since 9/11, the US customs agents at the border are so rude, ignorant and act like bullies. They are very uneducated and act like a bunch of morons. Going through the border is a humiliating experience where you are made to feel as through you are some kind of terrorist who has to prove that he didn’t play a role in 9/11. It’s become such an experience that we (and I speak for thousands of Canadians) NO LONGER make Detroit our destination point for fun. We fly out of Toronto now (even though it is much more expensive and a 4 hour drive just to get there) and only visit the US when it is absolutely, definitely necessary (like a funeral).

    I’m not angry at the US in any way and I’m not trying to ‘boycott’ it or anything like that. It’s just like business…if you get treated rudely at a particular restaurant and the waiter throws hot coffee in your face, then you can simply find somewhere else to take your business and pleasure.

    I probably just got added to a NO FLY LIST for writing this hate speech 🙁 LOL

  44. Ren Blais says:

    Me & my wife & another couple were heading to vegas for a holiday. Nov. 09 2015. We checked in, paid our $25.00 for our bags, So now we have to go through customs. This is the toronto pearson airport. So now, we have to put our passports in a machine to verify. I put mine in first & the paper comes back with an X on it. Same with the wife. So they bring us in another line, My wife goes through, she’s good to go, now it’s my turn. I give him my passport & that piece of paper with the X. He hands me back everything including a yellow folder. They escort me into us border security. They ask me to sit down & wait. So i’m waiting for about 10 min. & then my name is called. Asked what my intentions were entering the us, i said for pleasure, going to vegas, never been there before. Asked me if i worked, told them yes, asked me if i ever was in trouble with the law, I said no. He says that i’m lying & he’s going to give me one more chance or i will never enter the us again. I started thinking, & i said yes about 30 years ago. He says why didn’t you tell me that when i asked. I totally forgot, never thinking that 30 years ago is going to come back & haunt me! What did u do, i said it was an assault charge. He tells me to go sit down with an attitude. My phone starts to ring, it’s my wife wanting to know what’s going on, & then all hell breaks loose. They start yelling at me to put the phone down, so i tell my wife i got to go. 15 minutes go by & the doors open & to my surprise the other couple that were travelling with walk in. Marty asks me what i’m doing here & i say I was charged 30 yrs ago & i think that’s why i’m in here. He says oh no!. He hand in his folder & was told to sit down. Meanwhile my name is called & the young american cocky asshole tells me i’m going to be going to the us today because of what happened 30 yrs ago. They treated me like i was a recent criminal. So i asked him if i could call my wife so she can come & get the luggage so she would be able to go on without me. He says no & tells me to go sit down, with attitude of course. I start getting a little mouthy because i want to talk to my wife. He tells me sir go sit down or i will put the cuffs on you, put u in jail & never will you be able to enter the us again. So i go sit down & now it’s marty’s turn to be called. He was gone for about 15 min. He came back & said that he wasn’t going to vegas either. 33 years ago he had a dui & was caught with 2 joints. That stopped him from entering the us! Finally they brought my wife in & the 2 women were trying to plead our case & was told to go sit down. They were being loud & told to go sit down. They didn’t listen & was told one more time, meanwhile one of the officers unclipped his taser. They were going to taser our wives. Long story short, mart & i went home, they made the woman miss their flight. They had to wait all day & fly out that night. One more thing, so we called the shuttle to bring us back to the truck & throw the luggage in the back of the truck & take off to timmins with our heads hanging low because of what happened 30 plus years ago. So we start heading home, & were passing by the bass pro shop & this white van honks his horn at us so i pull over. I go & look in the back, I guess i left my tail gate open & we lost our luggage. It was a quiet ride home! The americans treated us bad, treated our wives bad & made them miss their flight. They took their time at everything just because they can! 🙂

  45. Andreas says:

    I totally understand you..i was pulled over for secondary passport inspection at Boston Logan airport and there were the worst 2 hours of my life..

    Having a random rude guy to ask u personal questions.

    And the worst thing is that they are soo uneducated. .he asked me from what country u entered US and i answered to him from Greece..
    And he replied wheres that..?

  46. jamal says:

    USA customs are sucks, one of the stupid question I have been asked: do I have a Gun, or willing to own a gun, or do I know the people I am visiting they have a gun. After that I was pulled over to ask more about my previous visitation other country where did I stayed, what was my purpose of visiting other country, do I want go back again.

  47. Eris says:

    This article has been written in 2012. It is 2016 and I faced the exact same situation, I am an entrepreneur, I work online, I am a freelance, I have many degrees and I was just visiting my American boyfriend for third time, I have all the support of my father who is a retired diplomat and a successful businessman in my country, so I was educated in a freethinker, widely open-minded environment, but for Customs I was just an unemployed pale Mexican young woman coming too many times and staying too long even if I have never overstayed. They sent me to the same room, with many men of all ethnicity, they were all looking at me and one asked me why they sent me here, I said I have no idea because I didn’t have trouble at all before. Next, they had a guy that I knew was just doing his job, questioning me, everything was fine until he sized my phone when I showed my accounts information in the apps of my banks to prove I can support myself, he looked through my conversations with my father and my boyfriend, looked through my personal pictures from years ago, looked through my emails, asked me very personal questions about things I talked with my father, then he let me go after writing in my passport the date, which is more than 10 days after the time I have my flight back to my country either way.

    Then, I have to deal with my boyfriend’s family treating me in the same way… this is when I raise both middle fingers to them, who have no authority to invade my privacy after their officers already did in the gates, they also think I had to tolerate their racist jokes but if I say something, they come with “oh, you are in America now and you are offending me, if you don’t like here, leave” and they think that is right to say. This is not only a problem in Customs, but a mind setting issue. I am so glad my boyfriend is nothing alike.

    Unfortunately this is what happens when you scare enough a country to give up privacy in the name of security, calling themselves “the freedom country” but they can’t trust freedom to their citizens, nor to their visitors. Hail Hydra much? (if you don’t know what Hydra is, it is a fictional terrorist organization from Marvel Comics, funny that is the reality in USA).

  48. justpassingby says:

    Sorry reading about your trouble. i must say that you did a great job victimising your experience. but the reality is that you came twice in the U.S for a longer period of time if my memory serves me right 5 months combined and fact is that you continued to freelance online from the U.S. to my opinion you tricked the system point blank and got lucky that you got admitted.

  49. Doughnut says:

    Stories like this are more like hell: the fairest punishment for the Devil, but the utmost unsuitable for humans.

    Not a freedom anymore.

    This is like a vicious circle of bully /abuses / horrors / terrors, with the good people always become the worst victims, they pour unto you all the degrading bullying, humiliation, intimidation, and all imaginable hurtful hateful slimes then conveniently destroy your integrity reputation upon their whim and your future suddenly be damaged forever by these god-like creatures, topping all of that some heartless bastards even demand you to relish these attitudes memories and enjoy all their treatments
    (as for the real bad people, real thugs, the leniency abusers, criminals, terrorists, thieves, I am sure they can laugh their f* arse off on reading this).

    Too risky. not worth it.

    No good sign at all if you don’t have “the” privilege, no privilege? don’t even bother to think of travelling. That’s what they want anyway.

  50. Joe Bloggs says:

    The following is a word for word transcript from a diary entry I wrote as I was being deported:

    “**.00pm? **/**/2016?

    I am currently on a flight from LAX airport to ********* [a place in Australia] I will recount the events that led to this.

    My day began with finalising my packing (for the around the world trip I have planned – with *********’* wedding in ******* as a main focus), saying goodbyes, getting driven to the airport by Dad, catching a 1* 1/2 hour flight to LAX, standing in a queue for a long time, being questioned by security and taken through various interviews (which were reminiscent of episodes of ‘Border Patrol’), being detained for around 12 hours before suddenly getting deported.

    I was questioned on my travels in America and onward (at which point I think a decision was made for me to be detained) and then about if I had ever used drugs or ‘controlled substances’. I answered yes.

    The detention process I went through was very dehumanising. The officer people were incredibly rude, they didn’t answer my question on where my packed baggage was despite my multiple attempts at asking, when asked by someone if they could go to the toilet the answer I heard several times was ‘just wait’, they made random comments [they being the officers who were talking to each other while searching through my carry-on baggage – I was in the room with them showing clear signs of distress as this was being done. I was barely looked at] and questions on/about my personal belongings such as ‘have you seen these before?’ ‘they look convenient’, (in relation to my tampons [or possibly my pads, mouth wash or tissues]) ‘Are you a vegan?’ in relation to my vegan passport [a book which explains veganism in different languages]. [Just before this I had been heavily frisked, on my left side by an officer and on my right side by a trainee. I was not asked if I was comfortable being frisked by an untrained person].

    I was told that at the point of being detained I had ‘no rights’. I had heard comments about this diary to the effect of ‘Oh that was her diary’, did someone read it?

    I was not allowed to access my belongings, only to the cash that I had brought with me and to get a snack from my bag. This meant that for many hours myself and my fellow travellers were without any of our things bar the clothes that we were wearing (except for our shoelaces) and any other items we managed to get, such as a book.

    The room we were first placed in was cold and anxiety inducing. By the end of the start of the processing I was shaking and was unempathetically asked if I was/why I was ‘having trouble’ answering the questions I was being asked; my throat was closing up.

    All of the people I spoke to in the holding room were or most likely will be deported. One boy for smoking **** [controlled substance] last year, another for using ****** [controlled substance] and **** [controlled substance] in the past and a girl for having a business card which said that the head office for her business was in ********** [a place in America]. To my understanding her companies contactable head office is there, but she doesn’t work with them closely [and wasn’t claiming or planning to].

    I am very suspicious about why they asked the people that they did if they have ever used drugs. I think [suspect] that they asked it as a way of detaining the people that they wanted detained. One of the boys (who I am on this ****** ****) has **** tattoos (a reason as to why I think [suspect] he may have been questioned). I think that I was questioned because I had not planned details of my trip such as which hostels I was staying at (I had 1 night booked at a place in ** near to the *******) and because of a ***** judgement made by the person who was meant to be processing my entry as I am a ** [young adult] year old who presents as a female and as a solo traveller.

    I was told that my luggage would be on the flight that I’m on now and I hope it is but I’m doubtful, I haven’t seen it since I left ********* [it was there thankfully]. The other people who were with me had their luggage placed in the hallway of the area we were kept in.

    The holding room that most of us spent 10+ hours in consisted of 4 rows of seats 2 sling type beds, 2 heaters (one of which was wobbly) and a TV on a stand which was a bit faulty. There were around 7 of us in there at one point, some obviously distressed. Just about everyone looked blank and bleary eyed as they tried to relax and pass the time. One girl who looked around about my age sat for a long time with her face in her hands rocking backwards and forwards and a boy I met from ****** [a place in Australia] tried to sleep on the concrete floor with a blanket [the 2 sling beds were being used].

    The things we were allowed while we were being held were to go to the toilet, to drink some of the bottles of water provided, to eat instant noodles or to use our money [for the people that had cash with them] to get some food from upstairs. To be continued…

  51. Joe Bloggs says:

    “One person did this that I know of but the food just sat on the floor. He said he wasn’t able to stomach it. I spoke to him as we were getting escorted to our flight by [3] security guards and he said that he also felt the hot and cold feeling of listless anxiety that I felt.

    Several people commented on how they felt that they were being treated as criminals, which is I suppose how we were viewed. The experience of this as a whole was described as a ‘nightmare’ by the boy with the tattooed ****. Everybody just seemed to want to go home to bed.

    I still have not received my phone, passports or itineraries back [I got them as I was departing the plane] and have not been able to contact my dad to tell him when I will be [back] at the airport. I didn’t know until it was suddenly time to go which flight I was meant to be getting on.

    The holding room was very disorienting as there was no clock or way to tell the time. Aspects of the experience reminded me of the Stanford prison experiment, especially the manner by which the authorities chose to use their power and strut around tapping their legs near their gun holsters. Also the way that they laughed at the travellers who got confused by their vague and badly explained instructions on what to do when approaching the central border control processing area that everyone has to go to. The people really did act like American police do on TV, the macho self-righteous types.

    At the time of writing this now it is *.12am in Los Angeles time.

    Oh, I also saw an officer looking through my phone. One of the girls I was with said that she thought that someone saw her ‘full on nudes’, who knows what they saw on my phone.”

  52. ANDREW WILLIAMS says:

    It is so painful for me right now….my wonderful girlfriend landed last monday night from china…..I was waiting for her with flowers….she text me that the plane had arrived, that is last I heard from her…….waited till 1100pm and no helen…I was so worried…I went to the customs office gave her name and was told that she was being detained!….Helen came with a valid passport and a valid 10 year visa….she is a retired nurse spending 20 years in the chinese navy.
    The custom officer told me to go home and wait for a phone call….I was in tears and so confused and angry, helen is a wonderful and gentle woman who I will marry soon,,,,It was very hard for me to leave but I did…..NOBODY called me and at 3am I called the customs office….to be told very rudly and coldly that she is going back to china!
    Helen finally called me waiting inside another plane going back to China!…She was crying telling how horrible she was treated….they told her you were here in this country to many times and staying to long…they searched entire body according to helen went thru all of her luggage even opened up her phone!!!! WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I am sitting here without the woman I love…..not knowing what to do….my heart is broken,,,,but the anger I feel towards my country for treating the woman I love so badly like a common criminal….I am meeting with a attorney on tuesday

  53. Luca says:

    i hate customs and immigration at most countries airports but the ones in usa are the worst. once they almost made me lose my flight because they questioned my coin collection from when i was a kid and i was just transiting in the usa for 6 hours. they always treated me in such a dismissive way(or asking stupid questions) that now i dont even overfly or transit in the country unless i really have to. even if a flight through the usa is cheaper i dont take it. police state, one of the “fakest” , full of themselves for no reason. i would never live there or work
    and im italian , imagine what happens to somebody arriving from a so called “poor” country(i know its not your case)

  54. Pete says:

    Wow, I know this post is 4 years, old but I just read it and it makes me sad the way the U.S. Customs treats people. I’ve never had it as bad as you experienced, but It’s not good even if you are from America. I’m from the States and every time I come home travelling – whether for pleasure or business they always grill me. I feel like I have to prove I’m worthy to get back into my own country.

    I got back from London earlier this year, and it was the first time in 10 years that the border guard looked at my passport and documents and said ‘Welcome Home’. It blew my mind…where had that been the last ten years.

    You’re not alone on your border story either…there are sadly dozens of blog stories I’ve read like that. David DuChemin, a world class photographer, had something similar in 2012 http://davidduchemin.com/2012/02/deported/

    I had a crap time in London when I went there. Quizzed me with all sort of dumb questions, about why I was visiting, why now, blah blah. I get they need to protect the borders, but they need to use common sense.

  55. Mark says:

    I took my 19 year old Chilean university student girlfriend to America to show her my country. She was really excited, and very happy to be visiting the promised land. I had heard that U.S. immigration could be nasty, so I prepared her with all the documents the Embassy had required for her visa.
    The officer asked her then, why she had so many documents. He said this is suspicious, and sent her to the interrogation room. There she was alone with three rude, aggressive men who scared her to death. As her English was inadequate, the guy in charge literally threw a phone at her and told her to talk to the interpreter. They treated her like a criminal prostitute and after an hour being interrogated by them, she came out crying hysterically. Now she hates America, and will always hate America, and tells all her friends how horrible America is.
    So
    “Give me your sadistic, your racist,
    Your uneducated masses yearning to torture the free,
    The wretched refuse of your schools.
    Send these, the psychiatrically disturbed to me.
    where they can wear a uniform and a gun, and teach foreigners
    not to believe the myths about America being the home of the free.”

    Google

    • Luca says:

      loved your story. the world is getting worse and worse these days. people dont realize and are used to accept and accept and behave like sheeps. follow stupid laws & regulations. nobody should have the right to tell others what to do or not to do , unless you re harming someone. live and let live. but here we are going in the opposite direction these days. and people seem to love it? so called “justice” is a facade, a big lie. follow your heart and disregard stupidity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

215 Shares
+15
Tweet36
Share164
Pin2
Share8