Border Patrol Officer asks you about your Criminal Record. What do you say?
We can’t represent you or give you legal advice.
It’s impossible to know how to answer questions posed by a Border Patrol Officer other than: be short; succinct; and professional. Do not tell them “how to build the watch”.
So If someone asks: “Have you been convicted of a crime?” One must answer yes, and if you’ve been discharged, have a copy of the discharge paper on hand, not the whole case file.
The Border Patrol Officer is not a lawyer, nor are they trained in law. Yet they are making a legal decision on one’s entry into the United States. Each individual traveler and Border Patrol Officer are going to have a different experience than the next.
During my training seminars and classes I would have an attendee ask about fighting traffic stops and tickets. They wanted to know their constitutional rights and how to answer questions posed by a police officer.
“What should I say?” They would ask.
“Is the officer African American, Caucasian, man or woman?” And they would try to fill in the blanks.
“Heterosexual or Homosexual?”Another answer.
“Did they have a fight with their wife or significant other the night before or that morning?” “Did their supervisor yell at him/her before they started a shift?” “Are they smiling? Having a good day?”
“Are they going on vacation the following day, or get a raise that week?” “Did they just finish course training on “how to deal with tourist questions?”
“Do they have a cold? or suffering from burnout?” “Did they just start or ending their shift?”
I think you get the point. We are dealing with another human being, subject to emotions just like the rest of us. There are so many factors that influence an individual decision, even a Border Patrol Officer. There’s no way you’ll know if he/she had a fight or confrontation that morning – they may be looking for a fight! And any reason is good enough for them.
Or they might be in a happy mood because they’re getting off shift or going on vacation the following day. And since none of us are mind-readers or fortune tellers, the BEST (emphasis added) thing you can do is BE PREPARED.
Don’t under or over-dress. Wear appropriate, but respectful clothing. Be kind and hospitable. HELP (emphasis added) the Border Patrol officer do their job, answer their questions – succinct and short; and have all travel documents in hand. That will lessen the chance of confrontation and avoid problems.