Often times, we receive calls from clients who routinely find themselves in secondary inspection for no apparent reason when they enter the United States. In many cases, they have been incorrectly “flagged” by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a result of misidentification; for example, having a similar name as a convicted or wanted criminal or incorrectly being placed on DHS’s terrorist watch list. In other cases, they may have previously traveled to the United States without a work permit, been advised by DHS to obtain one, and have done so only to be stopped and questioned each time they travel to the United States. Fortunately, DHS offers a way to request that the “flag” be removed from one’s record by filing a report through the Travel Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP). According to the website, TRIP “is a single point of contact for individuals who have inquiries or seek resolution regarding difficulties they experienced during their travel screening at transportation hubs—like airports and train stations—or crossing U.S. borders.” Some of these “difficulties” include “watch list issues,” “screening problems,” or “situations where travelers believe they have been unfairly or incorrectly delayed, denied boarding, or identified for additional screening.”
To file a complaint under the TRIP program, one must log onto http://www.dhs.gov/dhs-trip. Once on the page, select “File a Complaint /Apply for Redress” and follow the instructions for filing a complaint. Before logging on, however, prepare a concise statement of the issue being experienced at secondary inspection. Be sure to include exact dates, U.S. ports of entry or airports, officers’ names (if available), detailed travel information, and references to work status (if applicable). Detailed reports make DHS’s job easier in its effort to solve the travel issue.
Once one’s report is submitted, TRIP will assign it a Redress Control Number and forward the redress request to the appropriate office for processing. The redress control number will also serve as a method to check the status of one’s inquiry. DHS, on its website, confirms that it “will share this information within the Department and outside the Department with components or entities that can help address the underlying issues regarding the redress request.” This sharing of information can include airlines or other third parties in an effort to reach a resolution.
During processing, DHS can request additional documentation, including copies of passport pages or other evidence of travel to the United States. Once DHS has completed its review, filers will receive a written report confirming DHS efforts to make corrections to records that may assist in avoiding future incidents of misidentification and/or additional screening in secondary inspection. For those who routinely fly to the United States, one’s Redress Control Number should be used to make airline reservations, as this will enable the airline to determine one’s identity and reduce the likelihood of mistaken identity during future trips.
While not always a guaranteed fix to routine secondary inspections at U.S. ports of entry, TRIP reports provide many with a solution to mistakes in identity or to issues about one’s proper status to engage in employment in the United States.