As even American citizens and legal permanent residents (LPRs) of the U.S. seem to be facing increased scrutiny at our nation’s borders, they should be aware of the fundamental rights that they possess in this situation. Like all international travelers, LPRs are subject to inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). They will screen all LPRs to classify them either as “returning residents” or “arriving aliens.”
In some cases, CBP officials will detain LPRs for secondary inspections. They will go to a separate room, where CBP officers will ask them questions, run records checks, and ensure that the individuals are eligible to enter the U.S. Nonetheless, individuals do enjoy some basic rights when detained in this manner.
You can always contact your consulate for assistance, who, in turn, may contact a lawyer on your behalf or your family. You also have the right to contact your lawyer directly. Any documents that CBP presents you must be written in a language that you understand, and you have the right to review those documents. You also can refuse to sign paperwork that CBP offers you if you do not agree with the contents of that document.
However, you do not have a right to privacy in any of your personal belongings when detained for inspection, including your computer and cell phone. CBP has the right to take these items, read your email, look at your social media activity, and generally search these devices. They can keep these items for a period before returning them to you.
As a returning LPR, you should have no difficulties passing the screening and being allowed to enter the U.S. If you are an arriving immigrant, however, CBP likely will examine your situation further to determine if you have abandoned your LPR status by remaining outside the U.S. for a lengthy period or committed a crime. As a result, detention periods for these LPRs may be longer.
Our goal is to assist you with your immigration concerns, whether family or business-based. We can evaluate your situation and develop a strategy that is most likely to be efficient and effective in your case. Regardless of the immigration matter that you are facing, the attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience, knowledge, and reputation that you want and need to advocate on your behalf. When results matter most, contact us at (512) 359-3362.