The CBP handles the arrival millions of travelers annually and most agents are courteous and professional. However as with all large organizations, there are some “bad apples” who are either on power trips or are simply having a bad day and choose to take out their frustration or unhappiness on unsuspecting travelers. If one has done nothing wrong and is treated rudely or disrespectfully by an agent, there are steps that can be taken.
The first thing to note is that US CBP has a published Pledge to Travelers. Although travelers are not checking into the Ritz when they arrive to the US, courtesy and respect should be offered by the agents.
The CBP handles complaints in several ways. Choose the method that is most appropriate for the situation. I usually recommend a cooling off period and to file a formal complaint if the situation warrants it. Try to discreetly note the agent’s name, time and place of arrival and other identifying details so that appropriate action may be taken against by the offending individual if the situation warrants it. It is generally not recommended to start or escalate a confrontation while at the border crossing or airport unless faced with an extreme situation.
There is also a site where travelers can Submit a Complaint (or compliment) regarding the CBP online. It can be anonymous if one prefers.
It is the responsibility of agents to enforce U.S. customs and immigration laws and complaints regarding agents simply doing their jobs are not warranted. However, particularly rude, discriminatory, insulting remarks by these agents should not be tolerated by either U.S. citizens, permanents residents or non-immigrants entering the United States.