Do not make jokes with immigration officials

On behalf of Immigration & Nationality Law Group posted in Immigration Detention on Thursday, November 7, 2019.

You feel nervous when you talk to immigration officials. You often like to cover your nervousness with humor. Should you make jokes while talking to them and try to lighten the mood?

It's not advisable. You especially want to avoid joking about anything that may contain trigger words for those officials, such as:

  • Smuggling people over the border
  • Coming into the country illegally
  • Engaging in bigamy
  • Having communicable diseases
  • Dealing drugs

For you, it may just be a sarcastic comment. You know you would never come over the border illegally or help anyone else do it, for instance. But you also know that's what officials are concerned about. Your sarcastic joke is supposed to show them that you wouldn't do exactly what you're saying, making you look at ease and relatable.

It can do just the opposite. It's like telling a joke about a bomb in an airport. You think the joke lightens the mood, but officials who are trained to look for these things every day take it far more seriously than that. They don't find these jokes funny in the least.

Best case scenario, the officials tell you to tone down the humor. Worst case, they decide you are serious, and they take legal action to arrest or deport you because of what you said. That single comment, made in jest, could change the entire course of your life.

Not only do you need to know how to talk to immigration officials properly and what you should avoid, but you also need to know what legal options you have if things fall apart.