Lie, Lie, Lie… [to US border patrol]

By | January 29, 2011

Lie, Lie, Lie…

Or how telling the truth to US Customs & Border Patrol is worse than a lie

My trip was going really well… I replaced the thermostat, had my oil changed, and arrived in Mexico, D.F., parked my car, and met up with my friend Rodolfo and his girlfriend Concha for dinner.  We had some typical Mexican seafood cuisine as my final meal this time in Mexico.

But, unfortunately, once again, I was detained by U.S. Customs & Border Protection for approximately an hour, my luggage searched, and my story seriously questioned… this time as I passed through Atlanta headed to Paris.

My honesty while answering their questioning seems to be the problem. As an example:

CBP: Where are you coming from?

Me: Mexico City

CBP: How long were you there and what were you doing?

Me: About 2 weeks, just travling

CBP: What do you do for a living?

Me: I am taking the year off to travel.

At this point, I can already see that the conversation is going downhill quickly.

CBP: Where are you getting money?

Me: I worked for 6 years and saved up.

CBP: Where will you be staying in the U.S.?

Me: I have a flight to Paris in a few hours, I am not entering the U.S.

CBP: Please write ‘transit to Paris’ in the blank. How did you get to Mexico?

Me: I drove my car. It is parked in Mexico. I am returning in one month.

At this point, the agent marks a big ‘B’ on my customs document. I know this is a bad thing.

So, as sure as I will face this same scrutiny in one month when I return, my plan is to Lie!

While this may at first sound completely illogical, I’ve thought about it in the past, pertaining especially to DUI checkpoints. If I were to get stopped after consuming one beer, I think there are 2 options

1-Tell the truth. Cop will think, ‘yeah right, this guy thinks I was born last night—this guy’s probably just finished a 6-pack along with a few mixed drinks—he’s so drunk he lost count!’

2-Lie. Either the cop will accuse me of lying or will concede that I haven’t had anything.

In this case, what’s the harm in option 2? He can’t arrest me for lying. He can call my bluff and give me a breathalyzer, which he will have done for option 1 anyhow. So no harm done.

My plan upon returning to the U.S. (to lie)

Unfortunately, in some cases, telling the truth to a public official is worse than a lie.

So next round through Atlanta, here’s how I see it going:

CBP: Where are you coming from?

Me: Paris

CBP: How long were you there and what were you doing?

Me: 1 month, traveling on personal vacation. (no mention of the Rally, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, or anything else)

CBP: What do you do for a living?

Me: I am a mechanical engineer in Phoenix. (if they ask, I’ll tell them I work for Toyota)

CBP: Welcome back!

Bottom line–I won’t mention Mexico, not being employed, my car parked in Mexico D.F., nor any of the truth. It just doesn’t pay to be honest.

The moral justification…

And yes, I do have morals, but my moral justification for lying to CBP is that I know that I am not trafficking drugs, money, or any other contraband. Lying to them and getting me out of the spotlight frees the agents to stop actual criminals.