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Third time in a row being pulled aside at US customs

San Francisco...
posts: 4,596
reviews: 101
Third time in a row being pulled aside at US customs

I take a vacation to Mexico or Central America once/year - The last three times I've returned to the US, once coming home from Nicaragua and the last two times from Mexico, I've been pulled aside after collecting my luggage into another room where I was asked a multitude of questions and then the customs agent would take everything out of my luggage for a hand search.

The first time it happened I was told that they do it at random but after the second and third time I'm now suspecting that my name might erroneously be on a government watch list.

I'm a 45 year old, born in the United States, clean cut, never been in any serious trouble with the law, and am not bringing back anything more than a few souvenir t-shirts or trinkets when I come home.

Anybody have any ideas if i should expect thing sort of thing to happen every time I travel in the future and is there anything I can do to find out why I'm being detained?

South Pole
posts: 15,408
reviews: 39
1. Re: Third time in a row being pulled aside at US customs

annoying but if u r 'clean' then u have nothing to worry about....except a delay. but u might like to take it up with your federal government rep if it bothers u a lot. .

I experienced a ssss boarding pass inspection for numerous flights over 4 years within the usa and then it suddenly stopped.

San Francisco...
posts: 4,596
reviews: 101
2. Re: Third time in a row being pulled aside at US customs

You are right - since I'm not smuggling andthing and declare all my items, I've got nothing to worry about except missing my connecting flight

Coffs Harbour...
posts: 1,348
reviews: 151
3. Re: Third time in a row being pulled aside at US customs

You really should make sure you brush the white powder away from under your nose before disembarking. It is a true warning sign.

But in all honesty, you are a lone male traveller returning from the Drug apitals of the world into a country being slowly ruined by the affects are criminal scum that are trying to smuggle drugs.

As a regular traveller to such areas and 'fitting the profile', unfortunately this is what you can look forward to most times you travel there.

London, England
Destination Expert
for Solo Travel
posts: 7,177
reviews: 23
4. Re: Third time in a row being pulled aside at US customs

It is probably the frequency with which you travel to Mexico and central America that brings you the unwanted attention. Immigration sees your passport and alerts customs.

All you can do, really, is to ensure you have extra time for connecting flights and just wait it out.

The first time probably was random, (although there are more "randoms" from some locations than others) but after that it was probably your pattern of travel.

South Pole
posts: 15,408
reviews: 39
5. Re: Third time in a row being pulled aside at US customs

have u watched this?


one of my faves.

it appears from this show from the casual observer that a certain amount of profiling does go on and from your travel pattern u seem to fit.

but agree missing connections would be annoying.

Perth, Australia
posts: 123
reviews: 134
6. Re: Third time in a row being pulled aside at US customs

Interesting. Reminds me of a trip to the States a couple of years ago. We met two friends - who flew in from Cyprus in Atlanta, had a bit of a road trip then flew from Memphis to Houston. We were all travelling on British passports. We were not standing together in the security queue and were all pulled aside for security checks. When I asked why, the security guy said it was either that we had no checked luggage ( no, we all had checked luggage), we had bought our tickets at the last minute ( no, trip was organised six months in advance) or we had paid cash for our tickets ( no again). Tickets were bought separately - not as a group so security would not have known that we were travelling together.

Anyway not a big deal - just more thoroughly searched. However we were all pulled aside again for a random security check when travelling on to Cozumel from Houston.

We did notice that we were the only non- Americans on the flights and as an aside when leaving Cozumel a normal security check found a very small penknife on my friend's keyring that had been totally missed by the more thorough security checks at Memphis and Houston.

northampton, MA
posts: 34
reviews: 40
7. Re: Third time in a row being pulled aside at US customs

I think there's some way, a redress number, that you can get from Homeland Security.

Here's a link: http://www.dhs.gov/redress-control-numbers

I think it makes traveling and customs smoother for frequent travelers

Orange, Australia
posts: 87
reviews: 23
8. Re: Third time in a row being pulled aside at US customs

Every single time I go to the US I get patted down and bomb checked. And i'm coming from Australia.

Just luck of the draw. Plus, you're coming back from dodgy countries... it's bound to happen.

Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 13,894
reviews: 71
9. Re: Third time in a row being pulled aside at US customs


Unlike the TSA physical security function, there is no "redress" like number or process for the Customs and Borderr Patrol (CBP) inbound passenger clearance process.

That said, you do have the right to be treated politely during such examinations, but in and of itself there is no way to "bypass" or reduce or eliminate the chances you'll be selected for a secondary inspection.

Via language in federal law and being upheld thru various past court challenges, the CBP has very wide reaching legal authority to conduct physical searches of nearly anything that you have or attempt to bring into to the US and their legal authority does also give then very wide discretion in determining exactly who they will or will not select for this intensive screening.

You can view your CBP entry records which will show your entry dates, ports of clearance, if you were selected for secondary screnenng, and what, if anything, was seized and if so, what fines were imposed, if any. But this will be only a statistical record of past events and will not really do anything to ether increase or decrease the odds you will be a future secondary inspection candidate.

Travel Safe,

10. Re: Third time in a row being pulled aside at US customs

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