A spokeswoman for the Washington headquarters of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told the AVweb on-line newsletter that the drawing of weapons in the ramp inspection of an aircraft in Long Beach, Calif., in May was justified but not normal. Kelly Ivahnenko also told AVweb that general aviation pilots can expect more ramp checks by CBP agents thanks to the newly-instituted Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS). She stressed its unlikely many of the checks will have the level of intensity employed May 22 with Long Beach, Calif., pilot David Perry and his three passengers.
Ivahnenko said that there was a “heightened alert” involved in the Long Beach operation but she also said she could not discuss the circumstances that led to a more aggressive posture than normal by the CBP and local police.
In an AVweb inteview, Perry said he and his passengers were put in unnecessary peril by gun-wielding enforcement officials. Ivahnenko stressed Perry’s experience is not what most pilots should expect if they’re checked by the CBP. “This I would not classify as common or routine,” she said. She said the Long Beach action was justified, even though the search turned up nothing illegal.
Perry said he and his passengers were ordered at gunpoint first to put their hands on their heads and then to get out of the airplane one by one. They were questioned individually and they and the contents of the plane were searched. Perry said he’s considering filing a civil rights action against the CBP and has been told by an attorney that the search may have violated the 4th Amendment of the Constitution that limits search and seizure powers of the government. Ivahnenko said the controversy stirred by the Long Beach inspection may prompt an outreach campaign by the CBP to address concerns being expressed by the general aviation community about the new border-crossing rules.
To read the full AVweb story: http://www.avweb.com/eletter/archives/bizav/1391-full.html#200528