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.

Please visit our firm’s websites at and and check out our page and “like” us on Facebook!

Author: Bradley Maged

I'm Brad Maged, an immigration lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts. I help people who want to live and work in the United States and companies that wish to employ them. This blog provides opinion and information on developments in immigration law. Thanks for reading!


  1. I came across this post as a result of a search to try to understand rights/responsibilities related to returning to US through customs/immigration. My experience yesterday evening was at Boston’s Logan International Airport and the line I was in was delayed as the immigration officer Conneeley had a 10-minute long chat with someone holding up the line. When I went up I was told that I had ‘attitude’ by officer Conneeley. I did answer all questions, but as a simple result of my tired and frustrated attitude, officer Conneeley decided to take more time, delay me, and then send me downstairs for full customs search. This is such an abuse of power and waste of tax payer money. People going through left and right and the only effort put forth by the Customs and Immigration personnel at Boston Logan Airport was to ‘teach’ me a lesson because I had an ‘attitude’ as a result of exhaustion and frustration. I am going to do more research and file an official complaint. I understand that officer Conneeley may have had a bad day, too, but I attribute his abuse of power to his ‘limited’ manhood and impotence.

Leave a Reply