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US customs law is strict but fair

I read with interest Tuesday's 'True Life' article by Dawn O'Shea (Irish Independent, September 29) in which she outlined her experience when she was denied permission to board a Chicago-bound flight by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Dublin Airport in June.

While it is regrettable that she was unable to travel that day, we believe that a correct understanding of CBP operations in Ireland could have prevented much of the confusion surrounding Ms O'Shea's travel.

Ms O'Shea's experience, by her own admission, was caused by overstaying her authorised entry in the US.

Even though the overstay was not long and may have been the result of a valid medical concern, it was and is the responsibility of all visitors to remain in compliance with the terms of their admission.

Ms O'Shea should have informed INS (Immigration Naturalisation Service) of her ill-health to extend her stay until she had recovered; but when she did not and overstayed, she was no longer legally present in the US and thus made herself ineligible for entry.

Ms O'Shea now requires a visa issued by the embassy before she can visit the US -- and we hope she will consider applying for a visa and visiting the United States at some point in the near future.

Furthermore, under the US-Ireland Pre-inspection Agreement and its successor, the 2008 Pre-clearance Agreement, no US CBP officer is authorised to carry arms and none do.

While it is regrettable that Ms O'Shea feels she was mistreated by the CBP officers at Dublin Airport, it is entirely inaccurate for her to claim that the CBP officers she saw or dealt with were armed or had weapons, or that she was otherwise mistreated.

Throughout her entire CBP interview process, she was treated courteously and professionally.

Robert J Faucher
Charge d'Affaires
Embassy of the United States,
Dublin 4

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