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Customs
Declaration











Customs declarations and other such forms can be understood as “tickets” that allow (or forbid) a traveller to spatially progress.



︎︎︎ Related entries:
     Borders
     Detection Algorithm
     Full Body Scanners
     Passport
     Non-Place


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Tags: boundaries, spatial configuration,
directionality, security, sorting


     
  

Design Decisions





When arriving from a different country than the destination, passengers must answer a number of forms and questionnaires. These include a customs declaration and an arrivals card, and may be accompanied by interviews with immigration officials.

A customs declaration form lists the goods that are being imported from abroad, such as alcoholic drinks, tobacco, animals, food, plants, seeds, soils, and meats. 

An arrival card is a document used by immigration authorities of many countries to obtain information not provided by the passport, such as health, criminal record, purpose of the visit, etc.

These are submitted to officials at the port of entry, and sometimes accompanied by interviews or secondary screening. This secondary screening can involve questioning and searches by customs and border protection officials for an undetermined amount of time, in a secured interrogation room within the airport.

These written and verbal questionnaires can be understood as “tickets” that allow a traveller to advance to the next stage of a predetermined linear progression.

The process of going through the Customs and Border Protection inspection requires the traveller to literally walk over from one jurisdiction to another. In this way, borders are delineated, made manifest, and experienced quite spatially, where small pieces of land on which one is standing is designated as specific legal jurisdiction or another.




Effects on Passengers





Checkpoints with forms, questionnaires, and interviews contribute to the amount of time waiting in lines at the airport, creating boredom and frustration for many passengers. More significantly, however, this checkpoint can be a significant source of anxiety and distress for people of certain demographics who are more likely to be selected for in-depth interviews or secondary screening. These can be people from minority groups, religious affiliations, or professions such as journalism, activism, or politics [1, 2].

Rights that are guaranteed by law can be suspended at airports because of the ambiguity of legal jurisdiction at borders. In the United States, the Supreme Court has yet to rule on the legal productions provided to American citizens reentering the country from abroad. Because of this ambiguity, the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has decided that it may conduct any search of any person, belongings, or electronic devices without a stated reason, and that it may withhold one’s right to call an attorney. Warrantless searches of electronic devices have an additional consequence, which is that CBP can document any potential evidence in one’s devices, such as email, social media feeds, photographs, and messages, and share what it finds with any other federal agency [3].











Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air Traveler Inspection Process:

The process of going through the Customs an Border Protection inspection requires the traveller to literally walk over from one jurisdiction to another. In this way, borders are made manifest and experienced quite spatially, where small pieces of land on which one is standing is designated as having a different legal jurisdiction from another.

  1. Adey, Peter. 2003. “Secured and Sorted Mobilities: Examples from the Airport.” Surveillance & Society 1 (4).
  2. Viscusi, W. K, and Richard J. Zeckhauser. 2003. “Sacrificing Civil Liberties to Reduce Terrorism Risks.” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 26 (2/3): 99–120.
  3. The Intercept. “I'm a Journalist but I Didn't Fully Realize the Terrible Power of U.S. Border Officials Until They Violated My Rights and Privacy.” The Intercept, June 22, 2019.