Re-entry at Ports of Entry, including Airports
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has broad authority to question, inspect, and detain any person – including U.S. citizens – attempting to enter the U.S. at ports of entry, such as airports. Additionally CBP may search your electronic devices without any suspicion of wrongdoing or probable cause. Please be prepared for additional delays in re-entry as CBP has increased screening and secondary inspection activities. There is no right to have an attorney present during immigration inspection at ports of entry. However, you have the right to refuse to answer questions about your religious beliefs and political opinions and still be allowed to enter the country.
It is not uncommon to be asked to go into Secondary Inspection upon re-entry. Be sure to follow their instructions. You will not be permitted to leave or use any of your electronic devices until the Inspectors are finished with your case. There is a normal 3+ hour processing period in Secondary Inspection. This does not indicate problems with your case, merely that the Inspectors have a large caseload to review ahead of yours.
All Ports of Entry into the US are federal property. They actively enforce all federal law, including the Controlled Substance Act. They use sniffing dogs and other methods to identify any illegal substance or paraphernalia. (Marijuana is an example of an illegal federal substance, no matter which state you reenter from and what their local laws are on marijuana.) CBP is reporting that possession of marijuana at immigration inspection at Logan is the biggest reason for prolonged detention of individuals attempting to re-enter. For legal permanent residents, violation of federal law could have serious immigration consequences, including deportation.
Cooperate with CBP officials. If you encounter problems with an officer who is behaving disrespectfully, is abusive or harassing ask to speak to a supervisor. Try to remember the details of the conversations – their questions and your answers – as fully as possible and get all officer name(s). Contact an immigration attorney with serious re-entry issues. We have a legal resources page that can help you find a local immigration attorney and other resources.
Regardless of recent Massachusetts state law, possession of marijuana remains a federal crime at places like Terminal E at Logan where CBP is actively enforcing the federal Controlled Substances Act. Any attempt by CBP to request an UMass employee to “voluntarily” sign Form I-407 Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Residence should be denied. The form is voluntary and cannot be used to deny entry. Should you receive this request by a CBP officer, please contact General Counsel’s Office for follow-up guidance.