VIDEO: St. Louis Immigration Attorney Discusses Abusive Immigration Officers

Will an immigration officer be mean to me during my interview?  Hi, I’m Jim Hacking immigration attorney practicing law here in St. Louis, Missouri.  The interview process is supposed to be non-adversarial that means that the immigration officer is supposed to be respectful and polite.  There’s a field manual that they’re supposed to follow and there’s rules that govern their interaction with people that they’re interviewing.

All that being said, I have certainly seen instances where an immigration officer has become abusive.  I’ve seen these on tapes of recordings of clients who went to their interviews by themselves before they ever hired us.  I’ve seen them on tapes of other interviews from people and I’ve even seen it with my own two eyes.  I have to tell you that immigration officers have a lot of discretion and the law gives them a lot of leeway in what they do.

I’ve seen interviews that view very much like a police interrogation where the officer is berating the individual.  I’ve seen yelling.  I’ve seen tricks.  I’ve seen all kinds of things that an immigration officer can pull during an interview.

Now I should say that the vast majority of interviews go fairly smoothly and the officers rarely get out of line.  The question is what do we do if an officer does get out of line?  Well if I’m there with someone on an interview, I generally like them to try to stand up on their own two feet.  If it looks like I’m advising them or jumping in or interrupting or cutting in, the officer usually doesn’t like that it looks like I feel that my client has something to hide, so if I have a client who is confident and strong and well prepared that goes a long way in diffusing situations where an officer becomes abusive.  If an officer becomes abusive, I will stand up for my client.  I will interrupt and I will tell them that this is inappropriate and if need be I will cancel the interview if the officer’s conduct becomes too outrageous.

Most of the bad conduct that I’ve seen has been on interviews where people go in without an attorney.  I think some immigration officers feel that they can be extra abusive when someone doesn’t have an attorney.  Immigration officers have also been known to try to get people to come in to their interview without their attorney present.  They’re not supposed to do that, but it’s happened from time to time in various immigration field offices.  This is a reason why you should really work with an immigration attorney.

I think a lot of people think they can fill out their own forms and do everything themselves, but I think having an immigration attorney one protects you because the officer is not going to be as combative with an attorney present and two if the situation gets out of hand the attorney is going to know what to do, how to terminate the interview, to ask to see the supervisor, or to layout exactly what’s been going on.  If you have any questions about this or if you feel like you’ve been abused by an immigration officer, please feel free to give us a call 314-961-8200.  Thanks and have a good day.