Over many years of practicing immigration and nationality law, the attorneys at Fong & Aquino have met all kinds of immigration officers and border guards. These are unique individuals who receive government training to get at and spot what they believe to be the truth. They are trained to use certain techniques in their interrogations. Clients at both our Pasadena and Palm Springs offices have asked us about some of these tactics. Even tourist visa and C-visa holders have been interrogated this way.
Make an accusation. I have often heard clients say that the border guard just barked out, “we know you’re lying!” They know no such thing. Border guards love to use this one. First of all, it insults you, because they are calling you a liar. Second, it makes you angry, and if you are angry, your judgment is often compromised. If you are telling the truth — and of course, you should never lie to any government official — then control your anger, look the officer straight in the eye, and say, “I am sorry you feel that way officer, but I am telling you the truth.” Don’t let them trap you into saying that you are lying.
“You can tell me everything….” Many border guards will try to be your buddy. They are NOT your buddies! Of course, you should never lie to a border guard, but this is a classic “good cop, bad cop” technique; even elementary school children have heard of this. They are hoping to get you to let down your guard. In a high pressure situation, they hope you will confide in someone who seems compassionate. Be careful.
Contradictions. You must remember to be truthful and patient. The border guard will try to make you talk and talk and explain and explain. You build up a series of statements, then they will find an inconsistency, and accuse you. Don’t over-explain. Answer the question and ONLY the question that is asked of you.
Remember that foreigners standing at the border or a port of entry DO NOT have the right to an attorney. Be sure you tell the truth and are prepared to provide answers to reasonable questions related to your immigration history and your current visit.
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office. –jcf