While much attention has been given to President Trump’s travel bans, both of which have beenderailed in court, and the admission of individuals with nonimmigrant and immigrant visas,questions remain about the rights of Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) that may encounterproblems with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
LPRs have rights, particularly if CBP officers are trying to strip them of their permanent residentstatus. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has advised membership tocommunicate with their LPR clients about potential risks.
Upon re-entry to the U.S. from abroad, CBP has the right to screen and question LPRs todetermine whether they are returning residents or arriving aliens seeking admission. LPRs arenot considered to be seeking admission unless they have abandoned or relinquished LPR status;been absent from the U.S. for more than 180 days continuously; engaged in illegal activity whileoutside the U.S.; left the U.S. while under legal removal proceedings; committed an actionableoffense that could be grounds for removal; or has not been admitted to the U.S. after inspectionand authorization by an immigration officer.
An LPR does not have to sign Form I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful PermanentResident Status, upon demand from CBP. It is voluntary on the part of the LPR and refusal tosign is not in itself grounds for detention. If there is evidence that LPR has abandoned his or herLPR status, then CBP will issue Notice to Appear (NTA) before an immigration judge. Even if Form I-407 is signed, the LPR still has the right to request a hearing before an immigration judge.
Another travel issue relating to anyone entering the U.S. from outside the country is inspectionof electronic devices. At port of entry CBP may request to inspect electronic devices of anyoneentering the U.S., including U.S. citizens, even “without individualized suspicion.” There aresome limitations, but not a lot. The Supreme Court has upheld suspicion-less searches of peopleand conveyances. To date, there has not been a meaningful challenge to CBP’s searches of electronic devices. The issue of access to social media accounts also remains open.
U.S. citizens refusing to allow searches may be detained, arrested or let go, but have their devices seized. LPRs or nonimmigrants refusing to allow searches are subject to the same as U.S.citizens as well as refusal of nonimmigrant admission to the U.S. and/or being referred to theagency’s expedited removal authority.
CBP has stated there is no “right to counsel” during the inspection and admission processalthough attorneys may be permitted at the agency’s discretion if individuals are detained for secondary inspection.
As noted in a previous article, the best option is to have separate travel devices. Cell phones andlaptops with a minimum of data can be provided for inspection without stress. If that isn’t possible, create a separate non-administrative account with only basic, work-related applications. Delete files that an individual wishes to keep private.
On a separate note, on March 27 and 28, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viveritoand Local Progress, a national network of legislators focused on progressive policies, held anational conference on sanctuary cities. Dozens of lawmakers from around the country wereexpected at this first conference of its kind in the country. The conference focused on strategiesto help lawmakers protect immigrants and fight for sanctuary policies in the face of recentactions and intentions from the current administration.