A former Customs and Border Protection officer, now working with Immigration and Customers Enforcement, shared her recent experience having Global Entry taken away from her. It wasn’t because she committed a crime, or forgot to declare fruit she brought back into the country. Instead, she says it was because she complained about an officer who processed her at the border.
Global Entry lets you skip skip the immigration and customs queues when you return to the U.S. Now that I have it, it’s hard to imagine life without it — and not just queuing up at immigration, but also that I always get PreCheck at TSA now (except when I’ve been “SSSS’d”) rather than having it be hit-or-miss through my airline elite status.
However it can be taken away from you. US Customs and Border Protection responded to a FOIA request detailing each instance where Global Entry was revoked between November 6, 2016 and June 6, 2017. And that offered a window into why people were losing their ‘trusted traveler’ status. For instance,
- A background check missed a misdemeaner, which came up later.
- Someone received a criminal conviction while in the program.
- The U.S. government got a complaint from another government about someone in the program.
- Failing to delcare items brought into the country.
- Bringing family members into the Global Entry line who aren’t enrolled in the program.
However, our ex-CBP officer (her employment checks out) explains that she “encountered an aggressive CBPO[fficer] while coming back from Mexico at the San Ysidro Port of Entry” and her friend that was traveling with her – who holds diplomatic status – “expressed her right to want to file a complaint against this CBPO.” They “requested to go to secondary inspection to file a report.”
While in secondary CBP management took pictures of us in my vehicle argued with my friend stating “they as CBP felt threatened because my friend wanted to file a complaint with the port director” and lifted our [Global Entry] cards because we “were unprofessional”.
Knowing the system, she requested “an interview with a supervisor to state my side of the story [in order to get Global Entry] back since we have no immigration, customs nor agricultural violations.”
However the supervisor “denied the request for an interview” so they’re stuck submitting a request for reinstatement to an ombudsman.
She says that in additional retaliation, “CBP management contacted my management as well as the Mexican consulate ambassadors and told them they had their non-compliant employees in secondary and held us for two hours.”
Put another way: “it’s not just customs, immigration or agriculture violations that you can get your card lifted/revoked but also for exercising your right to freedom of speech and right to file a complaint.”
I’ve been a bit cheeky going through immigration in the past. Just off a long haul flight, who wouldn’t be? One Thanksgiving, returning from India, I was asked for the purpose of my trip and I replied, “I wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner with Indians.” I got a perplexed look, but if I’d been deemed insufficiently differential the result could have been different.
Of course anyone trying to do anything nefarious is doing their best to avoid calling undue attention to themselves. The last thing they’re going to do is file a complaint about an employee and ask to go to secondary. Anyone who asks to go to secondary is – almost by definition – not someone that should have their Global Entry revoked. But then someone wound up on the No Fly List as retaliation for refusing to become an FBI informant.
Those in power will, naturally, abuse that power. It’s Madison, in a nutshell: if all men were angels, there’d be no need for government; if government were to be run by angels there’d be no need for constraints; but it’s precisely because men are to rule over other men that we must first empower and then constrain.