Worried about my passport
January 31, 2017 6:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm traveling to Bangkok in a week and a half, and am worried about the trip given the recent craziness around immigrations and customs.

I'm an American citizen, white male, traveling to SE Asia very soon for vacation.

Given what has happened recently in U.S. national politics I'm starting to worry that now is just not a good time to travel abroad.

Also concerned about my passport: it's pretty old (looking a bit faded), and has about 15 stamps from Turkish customs (I used to live in Turkey).

Basically I'm worried about being detained / questioned / whatever on my return to the states, primarily because of the Turkish stamps. (I know Turkey wasn't on the recent list of banned countries, but I just worry about overzealous border agents...)

I would consider expediting a passport renewal, but I worry that things would be gummed up at the U.S. passport office

Am I overthinking this? I almost feel like canceling the trip.

Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
You're over thinking it. White male citizen coming from a non targeted country will have no problems returning.
posted by Karaage at 6:52 AM on January 31, 2017 [6 favorites]

I think this question is hard to answer definitively, but I'm a white male who reentered the US on saturday (via toronto) and I don't think that white males with US passports have anything to worry about right now.

If anything, we're the ones who would be the safest documenting anything that's happening in customs areas.
posted by advil at 6:56 AM on January 31, 2017 [8 favorites]

Yeah, it's highly unlikely that anything will happen. You're an American citizen traveling on a valid passport to a non-targeted country with stamps from another non-targeted country. You are letting the hysteria get to you. Not to say that it isn't the end of the world for people from those seven countries, but it's not the end of the whole world yet. Don't make it any worse than it already is.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:01 AM on January 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

Basically I'm worried about being detained / questioned / whatever on my return to the states, primarily because of the Turkish stamps.
Anytime that you travel overseas, there is a risk of being questioned or detained when you return and you are correct that the risk is higher now. I would take some extra precautions like making sure at least one person knows when you will land and to expect a text or call from you by 2 hours after landing. If they don't get it, they can contact your congresspeople. You can also see for yourself how non-citizens are treated on the plane and in the lines before you are separated. You can be a friendly face and a witness.
posted by soelo at 7:29 AM on January 31, 2017 [7 favorites]

You are probably overthinking this, yes.

That said there are some reasonably well-sourced stories going around about American citizens and legal permanent residents getting questioned about their social media profiles and political activities or thoughts. As conspiracy theories converge with reality it gets harder to say what the line between reasonable precaution and overthinking things is.

Friends (albeit not white male ones) have been discussing deleting/deactivating social media accounts and profiles in advance of passing through customs/immigration. Its not clear, to me, how these checks are being done, whether they are asking for personal devices and trying to get people to log in to their fb etc from their phones or whether they are searching on CBP/gov't owned computers while detainees wait. If its the former just carrying a dead-battery in your phone would probably work, if its the latter id delete/deactivate/anonymize accounts to the extent possible.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:32 AM on January 31, 2017

and I meant to also add soelo's well covered advice: have someone know when you are landing and expect a call from you - you will be able to call/text between landing and customs, so if you reach someone on your way from the plane to immigration and they haven't heard from you in a couple hours, they should send someone (a member of congress is a good idea) looking.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:33 AM on January 31, 2017

It's well known that Trump didn't include countries in which he has business dealings. Turkey is one of those countries. I don't think Turkey loves us but I don't think Trump hates them enough to ban them. In any case you're not a Turkish citizen, not even dual. Thailand isn't relevant at all.

He's incredibly reactionary and his actions are galling, but I don't think he's stupid enough to shut down all flights from everywhere, because that would collapse the world economy.
posted by AFABulous at 7:33 AM on January 31, 2017

Just don't keep your ACLU card with your passport and you should be good to go (and come back).
posted by AugustWest at 8:02 AM on January 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

At this time, I (white female US citizen) think it is unlikely that your right to re-entry will be challenged after travel to SE Asia. I would go ahead with any travel plans you have to the region. However I also think you should be prepared for more extensive questioning upon return than you might have experienced previously, including inquiry into your previous travel or residence abroad. As before, a lot depends on the individual border patrol agent you interact with.

My passport expires early next year but I will be starting the renewal process earlier than usual. You may wish to do the same.

I concur with other replies that people like us, whose right to travel in and out of the US is relatively less likely to be challenged, have an opportunity to bear witness to how everyone is treated at US border checkpoints and to be a friendly presence for people who are more likely to experience problems visiting or returning to the States.
posted by 4rtemis at 10:36 AM on January 31, 2017

With this man child in office, and the laws left to the discretion of homeland security personnel, and the question they are asking on the border/airport on how you feel about him, yes, anything is possible. You being a white male helps greatly. Are you rich? If not, look rich when you get in.
posted by metajim at 6:21 PM on January 31, 2017

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