When an individual enters the United States, can they have an immigration attorney present (physically or remotely via phone) when going through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)? E.g., to advise the individual on their responses to the US CBP agent's questions, or directly answering the questions. If that matters, assume that the individual is a US lawful permanent resident and French citizen.


1 Answer 1


CBP generally prohibits interviewees from having access to legal counsel during immigration inspection. The American Immigration Council's Behind Closed Doors: An Overview of DHS Restrictions on Access to Counsel has a fairly thorough account of the restrictions and of their dubious legality.

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    That page also suggests that a LPR entering the US does have the theoretical right to an attorney at primary/secondary inspection, although CBP will make it hard/impossible to exercise that right. Sep 8, 2020 at 9:15
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    @GS-ApologisetoMonica yes. That is what I meant by mentioning "dubious legality."
    – phoog
    Sep 8, 2020 at 15:24
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    phoog: Please add GS's comment to your answer, it's important. We all know that CBP does legally dubious stuff every day of the week - it's important to document the reality, and also to what extent DHS's legal interpretations and memos change with each US admin.
    – smci
    Sep 8, 2020 at 21:15
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    @GS-ApologisetoMonica: I agree that the article makes a strong argument for legal counsel during secondary inspection, but I'm not so sure about primary inspection. The article doesn't argue that the APA requires legal counsel at that stage, and the CBP's regulations don't seem to allow for it either. Sep 9, 2020 at 1:49
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    @GS-ApologisetoMonica: I read that to say that the regulations don't prohibit legal counsel being present, but don't entitle a LPR to have counsel present either. This might be a good question for Law. Sep 9, 2020 at 11:57

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