This question concerns United States Border Patrol interior checkpoints. These checkpoints are located away from the external border, but within 100 miles of it, at which traffic may be stopped in order to check the immigration status of the occupants.

Noting 18 USC 1001 (see my related question for more information), I wonder how a dual citizen should react when faced with one of the usual questions asked by border patrol officers at these checkpoints:

  1. Are you a US citizen?

    • For a person who is a citizen of the United States and at least one other country, is it okay simply to answer yes?
    • For a person who is a citizen of multiple countries, not including the United States, is it okay simply to answer no?
  2. What country are you a citizen of?

    • Is it necessary to disclose all countries of citizenship when responding to the second question? Does it matter if one of those countries is the US?
  • 1
    The second question will also be interesting if you are a national, but not a "citizen", of a country.
    – user102008
    Apr 3, 2016 at 9:12

2 Answers 2

  1. Yes. A multi-nation citizen who has US citizenship has equal US citizenship with every other citizen; therefore the answer to this binary question is "Yes". The citizenship(s) of anyone who does not have US citizenship is irrelevant to this question; thus, the answer to this binary question is "No".

  2. Yes. The main point here is to determine if you have the relevant documents and permissions to be legally present in the US. If you are a US citizen, a) this makes the process easier for you and b) avoids any possible issues if evidence is found of citizenship from another country, which will make immigration think that A) you are not a US citizen and b) you lied to them. Most people have only a single citizenship. That is the default mindset of immigration. There's no downside for you to inform them; there may be additional difficulties, delays, and scrutiny if you do not.

    If you are not a US citizen, most of the same applies. Additionally, lying (even by omission) can be grounds to have your legal status revoked.

In summary, if you have the legal right to be in the US (e.g. US citizen, legal resident) being fully honest cannot hurt you, and can make the process smoother. If you have legal permission to be in the US, being fully honest will help prevent that permission from being revoked.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer. As I understand it, if you claim to be a US citizen, the officer needs reasonable suspicion that you are not before you can be required to show your documents. In other words, the vast majority of US citizens should not be asked for "relevant documents." If a dual citizen is more likely to arouse suspicion, then requiring him or her to mention the non-US citizenship could put that person at a disadvantage.
    – phoog
    Apr 14, 2016 at 21:55
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    I have to object to your phrase "being fully honest". There is a huge difference between being honest and being cooperative: resisting authority is not dishonest. See Bronston v. US 409 US 352.
    – user6726
    Apr 14, 2016 at 22:10
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    @sharur a dual citizen shouldn't be more suspicious, but I've read more than one thing that suggests that Border Patrol officers get incorrect or at best oversimplified training on immigration law. I've heard more than one story, too, of immigration officers telling US citizens that they're not allowed to have another nationality. Surely immigration officers should be better trained than Border Patrol officers. DL says nothing about immigration status (mine is from NY, not Real ID compliant).
    – phoog
    Apr 15, 2016 at 17:55
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    @phoog: I agree both border patrol agents and immigration officers should have a better knowledge of immigration law. As for the DL, you are incorrect. dmv.org/ny-new-york/apply-license.php. One needs to prove legal residency to get a drivers's license (the actual legal rights, not the card). Real ID applies to the physical card itself. So the driver's license is in fact proof of legal residency (though not actual citizenship) as you have to have been a legal resident to get one. Based on the evidence you present, however, explaining that to the person checking might be difficult.
    – sharur
    Apr 15, 2016 at 21:27
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    @sharur I don't see on the dmv page where it says you have to prove immigration status. The stuff claiming to be for non-citizens is actually for people who hold foreign DLs, who could be US citizens. The page is very poorly put together. To get an NY license, you have to be a resident of NY and you need to have an SSN, but that doesn't necessarily imply valid immigration status.
    – phoog
    Apr 15, 2016 at 23:07

You shouldn't have any problems or worries if you are lawfully in the US. A US Citizen (and dual nationals) should just state their US Citizenship unless asked for more info (which probably won't happen).

Non-US Citizens should be honest and be able to state what their lawful status in the US is based on.

Note: a non-US Citizen should never claim to be a US Citizen. This can result in removal (deportation) and a permanent bar to reentering the US.

  • Thanks for your answer. Do you have any basis for your assertion that dual-national US citizens should not mention their other nationality unless asked? Why wouldn't this count as concealment of a material fact? Also, you don't address the question of whether non-US dual nationals should disclose all nationalities or just one. (Also, with reference to your first sentence, is it possible for a US citizen to be unlawfully in the US?)
    – phoog
    Apr 12, 2016 at 14:12
  • When questioned about an foreign alien's presence in the US, the dual nationality is not usually an issue. The question is about their lawful status (visa) that allows them to be in the US. I think you are worrying yourself too much about this issue. Unless you are charged with a crime, this process is very informal. Also, a US citizen has a lawful right to be in the US Apr 13, 2016 at 18:37
  • Thanks again for your response. I'm not particularly worried about it; it's more of an academic/theoretical interest. What I am worried about is my wife, who is in the US on a G-4 visa and will not carry her passport with her for fear of losing it; I worry that she might run afoul of 8 U.S.C. §1304 (e). But that is another question that I may ask separately.
    – phoog
    Apr 13, 2016 at 19:02

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