I Confronted Miami CBP Officers About Not Wearing Masks

Filed Under: Travel

This weekend I landed back in the US. As I entered the baggage claim hall in the immigration facility, the first two Customs and Border Protection officers that I saw were standing in close proximity to one another chatting, and not wearing masks.

This post isn’t about our individual feelings on wearing masks. Rather, Miami Airport requires all passengers, visitors, and employees, to wear facial coverings. Miami-Dade County also has a mask mandate. It’s probably also worth mentioning that at least 162 CBP officers in Florida have already tested positive for coronavirus.

I looked at the officers and shook my head — not only should they be following the rules, but shouldn’t they be setting an example for others?

At this point one of the officers started talking to me:

Officer: “You got a problem?”
Me: “Yeah, why aren’t you guys wearing masks?”
Officer: “Are you trying to help me, or what’s your problem?”
Me: “Everyone is supposed to be wearing masks, including you, and you know it.”
Officer: “Well you’re wearing a mask, so you’re protected.”
Me: “That’s not how masks work. That kind of logic is exactly why we’re the epicenter of this.”
Officer: “I’ll put one on just for you, happy?”
Me: “And the other guy?”
Officer: “He has a beard, it’s proven that masks don’t work if you have a beard. Why don’t you go on your way and mind your business.”

I… I… I… was at a loss for words.

Me: “This is completely ridiculous. Is there a supervisor I can talk to?”

At this point a guy happened to come walking out of the back room at the same time, at which point the officer said “hey, this guy wants to file a complaint against me for not wearing a mask,” and the guy smirked. It was claimed that there was no one above him in the facility, so we went on our way.

US CBP “pledges to treat you with courtesy, dignity, and respect”

When we arrived at our baggage claim belt in the immigration hall there were two other officers standing there (with masks), so I talked to them for a second:

Me: “Hey, is there any CBP supervisor in the terminal?”
Officer: “Is there something I can help with?”
Me: “Some of your colleagues are not wearing masks. When I pointed it out, they claimed that I’m protected because I’m wearing one, and also claimed one of the officers couldn’t wear a mask because he has a beard. You have a beard and seem to be wearing it just fine. I don’t know how you work with these people.”
Officer: “We… work with all kinds of people. I’m sorry about that.”

He was nice and explained that a more senior supervisor was only in the other immigration facility because they had limited staffing at the moment. He said he could try to get in contact with him for me, or suggested I file a complaint online with the CBP.

Goodness…

Comments
  1. Congratulations Ben! First the flight attendant who was “allergic” to having their photo taken, and now two Border Patrol officers. You’re on a roll!! I say take a TAAG flight again, you’re ready to stand up to the FAs

  2. Good on you. You’ve got far more guts than I would have in the situation (I’d have expected them to find some way to mess with me).

  3. Good on you Ben. Please follow up on this if you can. It’s really annoying how some people are not taking this seriously.

  4. *Flies halfway across the world from a a COVID hot spot*
    *Immediately confronts an individual about mask wearing upon return*

    The officers were in the wrong, but someone could have angrily confronted you about your activities. Just keep it moving

  5. Why not name their names? They violated the ordinance while ostensibly being part of DHS. It’s not okay.

  6. I wouldn’t put much faith in the national CBP complaint channels. I would put some faith in the Miami airport authority. That’s where I’d probably direct my complaint.

  7. If you think that’s dumb in Singapore mask is required to be worn by law but in the military officers who are not conscripted and think they are big fucks make sure every conscript is wearing their mask properly while they are crawling in the mud while shouting at them without a mask. Just the world we live in I guess

  8. @ Anthony — You’re entitled to your opinion. I shared the precautions that I took prior to travel, and I take this situation seriously. I respect if you think I was wrong to take the trip I took — some people think so, others don’t. However, there is a mask mandate that applies to all, and that includes CBP officers. That’s not open to debate.

  9. @anthony
    Lucky shook his head – the officer said “you got a problem”
    It wasn’t like he went out for this… clearly the officer knew what he should be doing an failed to do so.

    That being said I agree with your final statement – guts or stupidity? I come from that group that believes, you don’t piss off someone that could detain you.

  10. The USA turned into a banana republic! Unbelievable! I happily visited once a year as a tourist, but not any more! I will bring my money elsewhere!!

  11. @ M Casey — As I walked away I was also asking myself if there was going to be someone waiting for me at the exit to baggage claim to give me an extra search. But I also realized the officers clearly knew they were in the wrong, and picking a further fight wasn’t going to help them much. I had absolutely nothing to hide about my travels or what I was carrying, and I also made sure I didn’t use my phone in the facility to give them any way to try and “punish” me.

  12. Good for you. Law enforcement officers of all stripes around this country aren’t wearing masks because they think rules are for other people, not for them. It serves as a reminder that the culture perpetuated by law enforcement is not one of public safety but rather one of control. ACAB.

  13. Thanks for calling those two officers out Ben. I hope that, if you can (ie, you have their names), you will follow this up. If officers of the law cannot obey the law, they should find work elsewhere.

  14. Deflection via hierarchy and “other building”

    @BC as far as I’m aware, CBP names are protected information these days as per recent order to prevent officers from being doxxed. I’ve not been to the US in awhile to see how that’s working out with the officers in airports. Supposedly they’re being identified by some kind of number in case of complaints.

    @Luke I agree… but they’d probably just start a game of finger-pointing. I wouldn’t expect much regardless of what channel was followed.

  15. @Ben Wow! This was definitely a gutsy move. I always go with minimizing interaction with immigration officers and not pissing them off, in any country, and maybe more so when I fly back to the US being a “brown person” where the constitutional protections are diminished at the border. Please let us know how this shakes out

  16. You touched upon the root of why law enforcement is such a problem in this country. They’re completely unaccountable and they always choose to cover for each other instead of doing what’s right.

    They don’t serve the public or its laws. They serve themselves.

  17. Also please remember when you are in the CBP area you are in a federal facility and there is no federal mask requirement, even the airport authority can not require mask in that area. They can request it but they can not demand compliance.

  18. Ben, you should not be confronting or shaming people who are not wearing masks. There are many exceptions to the rules. And if you don’t feel safe being near someone without a mask, stay away from them or ultimately just stay home until you feel safe being around healthy humans.

  19. Ben, you are nuts. The Miami CBP officers are notoriously mean and aggressive. I would never have chosen to “poke the bear”. They have the power to make your travel life miserable by putting a flag for extra screening on your passport. Next time, try to note names on badges and then make a phone call to complain.

  20. Please file the complaint. I hope you got their names.

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. As a resident of Miami, I have always thought that it’s one of the most selfish places in the world. As they say, the nice thing about Miami is that it’s so close to the United States.

  21. It’s Miami what do you expect LOL. Also, one of the “nastiest” airport staff in the world across the board.

  22. Goes on vacation during a pandemic. Tells someone “put your mask on”
    Commenters think that is why Law enforcement is the problem with America.

  23. Ben – I don’t think it was wrong for you take the trip. And I agree that the officers should be wearing the masks. The issue I have is you confronting these guys about their masks when you also push some boundaries. I push boundaries too in the current environment; we all do to some extent. Like I said, just keep it to yourself and go on about your day

  24. Ben – Have you thought about renaming this blog to One MASK at a Time? So many of your recent posts have focused on mask wearing rather than other aspects of travel.

  25. DHS is run by a collection of Trump-loving wing-nuts dressed up as respectable, decent individuals while they are anything but decent. The idea that such DHS leaders will hold to account CBP employees for being part of the political anti-mask brigade is wishful thinking at this point.

    Hopefully these CBP employees will get a reality check sooner than later, but don’t expect them to get much of a check — other than paychecks — for as long as the reality TV show conman from NYC is President of the US.

  26. Ben – good on you. We need to point out when others fail to keep us safe, otherwise we will never be able to move on as a society and return to normal activities like travel and recreation. These officers are actively hurting the country by providing extra vectors for disease spread.

    @Steven Elliott – I’m also in the majority population, and as such it is our responsibility to use that privilege to point out where institutions fail society like happened here. As a white person, if I confront an officer about something they are doing incorrectly, I absolutely would be at lower risk than someone of a darker hue, and I will gladly continue to step up to help protect my fellow members of society, for whom the same action is more risky and costly.

  27. Wow, I must admit I wouldn’t have the guts to do this, good on you Ben!

    As others have mentioned, it’s difficult not to see this incident as reflecting a cultural problem within CBP and possibly law enforcement in general in the U.S.. I have a friend who is a safety inspector on job sites and she deals with the challenges of changing a machismo culture into one that respects safety regulations, but to do it successfully you need the leadership on-side and a commitment to make it work. Clearly that isn’t the case with CBP in Miami.

  28. Ben, bravo for speaking up and addressing the lack of mask use by CBP. Does this mean next time you will get SSSS?

  29. Haven’t read others’ comments due to time. I applaud you, Ben; it does take guts to do what you did, and you were right. Shame that those in authority position are putting others in danger and setting a bad precedent. I work in healthcare and I see about 75 patients/35 hours face to face every single week, and as far as I know, I haven’t gotten sick. Masks do work. Keep it up.

  30. I have been to the US only 20+ times (most of them pre-Trump), but this doesn’t come as a surprise – usual behaviour of “authorities” in the “greatest” country….

  31. Sadly typical of arriving in the USA – feels more and more like a banana republic every time I go back.

  32. I had surgery in the ear with the incision being from behind that ear. Wearing a mask hurts my ear after sometime. You never know if the officer had any such medical reasons to not be able to wear it.

    I haven’t been to Miami Airport. Were they like this during 2008-2016 too? Or they all changed suddenly in 2016?

    Also was the officer a Cuban PoC?

  33. @ Penn Adam — There are plenty of ways to wear masks and face coverings that don’t involve placing them around your ears. As a matter of fact, in Turkey I saw lots of people with a clip around the back of their neck, and the mask was attached to that. So there are plenty of options.

    Also, their defense wasn’t that they have a condition — rather the defense was that masks are only about protecting yourself, and that you can’t wear one with a beard.

    Best I could tell the officer was white, though I’m not sure why that’s relevant?

  34. Curious, did you wear a mask during the much deadlier H1N1 pandemic disaster under obama? I don’t recall you had but could be wrong on this

  35. Ben:
    Thank you for speaking out and you were absolutely right to point this out! However, I am not sure why you are surprised. This episode describes boorish Miami “Bro” attitude at best. Most of CBP agents at MIA have the training deficiency and they are constantly on a power trip.

  36. What is with all these good on you? Don’t we say good for you in the US? Is it a British thing?

    I have never heard someone in conversation say good on you.

  37. @ Carrie — I didn’t, as health authorities weren’t telling us to. Maybe in retrospect we all should have.

    I don’t really get your logic, though. This isn’t even about comparing H1N1 to COVID-19, but rather can we not evolve as a society in 10 years? We have now learned that wearing masks can make a big difference. So the logic is that we shouldn’t do it, because it wasn’t done 10 years ago? I don’t get it…

  38. @MS – I’m not going to try to defend anyone here but also in March we were beset by COVID and our health care system was overloaded. People bought up all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer and masks were in short supply. Nurses were wearing sports googles because they didn’t have proper PPE. This was done so that we could contain and conserve PPE.

    You’re also one of the same fools that would bitch if you needed to go into the hospital but there were no health care professionals to care for you because they were all sick with covid. You should probably keep quiet on stuff you’re not aware of unless the intent is to generally ask a question.

  39. @ Carrie I get that you’re a Trump supporter (12,000 deaths under Obama=disaster; 160,000 death under Trump=?), but how did you come to the conclusion that the H1N1 pandemic was deadlier? COVID deaths are already significantly higher both domestically and abroad.

  40. @ MS — I share your confusion on that. I don’t understand why the CDC and Dr. Fauci weren’t telling us to wear masks. It’s one thing if it was explained with “we need to save them for healthcare workers,” but that wasn’t how it was described. They made it sound like masks weren’t part of a big-picture solution.

    However, now study after study shows just how much of a difference masks can make when it comes to the spread of coronavirus. Aside from self proclaimed experts on Facebook, there’s really not much disagreement about that in the scientific community.

    I do think they got it wrong at first, but they’ve evolved. I would guess mask usage is also part of why the death rate is down.

  41. I would take this battle all the way to the man in charge at the White House; surely he’ll side with you!

  42. As I have gotten older I have got less shy and I would tend to do the same thing. There is a risk since they have power but I think you managed it well.
    I don’t think it will do any good unfortunately since they exist in a different world with different facts.
    In my reality their behavior will lead to there loved ones getting sick and some will die.
    At this point I don’t even care as long as I can avoid the idiots. At least there mask habits point them out.

  43. As COVID deaths were peaking in March/April, this was the experts’ mask policy. Were you mask shaming everyone in March?
    – MS

    In March/April it was not possible to buy masks off the shelf. They were in such short supply that, for the first time in history, the international community sent disaster relief in the form of airlifted PPE to the United States, rather than the other way around.

    I live in NYC and received 4 surgical masks from my girlfriend, who is a nurse. I made them last for a month, donning them on trips to the grocery store. It was clear then that the mask recommendations were based in part on scarcity and in part on limited understanding.

    Both of those issues have been addressed. If your intent here is to call the credibility of medical experts into question, (a.) your evidence is unconvincing, and (b.) to what end? what is your motive?

    I would have broke your nose.
    – Larry Miller

    Yes, I’m sure you would have assaulted him in public… brilliant.

    Pretty sure threats of violence are against some sort of community standard on this blog.

  44. I have to ask….. Did you confront them just for the sake of writing a blog post? I mean, if you don’t confront literally every other person you see who is not wearing a mask then that is kind of what you are doing.

    Any by the way, Miami airport authority cannot regulate Federal spaces, so your second paragraph isn’t applicable nor correct.

  45. @Alex

    “…until you feel safe being around healthy humans.”

    Thanks for the clear demonstration that you have no idea how this works. Roughly half of the transmission of the virus has been from people who had no symptoms and thus seemed to all the world to be “healthy”.

  46. It’s a reflection on staffing, hiring and training. It’s far from unique to the USA. Australia has a similar problem: a small proportion are poorly trained, temperamentally unsuited, ill-mannered ( …but they leave a lasting impression and give the good ones a bad name…). It seems to be a universal issue.

  47. The country is so divided and this life saving measure has turned political…. The comments speak to which political party side you are on…… What a mess

  48. @MS & Ben
    I don’t think there was any confusion back in March on the effectiveness of the mask. All or nearly all of the Asian countries required masks. We in the US on the other hand simply didn’t have sufficient mask available for even the health care workers. I believe Fauci even mentioned in an interview that there weren’t enough masks available and they had to prioritize for the health care workers. Whether it was the right decision to deceive the people is debatable but at least it was one that is logical and may have been necessary under the circumstances. I’m saying under the circumstances because our government could have started preparation in January like many other countries did, and perhaps we would have enough masks to go around, but choose not to do it.

  49. I have to ask….. Did you confront them just for the sake of writing a blog post? I mean, if you don’t confront literally every other person you see who is not wearing a mask then that is kind of what you are doing.
    – Paulz

    I’m not sure about Miami – I’m sure this isn’t entirely the case there – but here in NYC, virtually everyone wears a mask in public. I can count on one hand the number of people I see without any form of mask over the course of a week. There is a general sense in the community that we beat COVID, and we’re determined not to let it come back. It would be entirely possible here to confront someone without a mask as a one-off occurrence.

  50. I concur with others that it was a gutsy move, and even though I was also not a supporter of your trip, I’m glad you confronted them. At least that’s a way to use white privilege, it would have probably gone VERY differently if you were a PoC.
    This is really mind shattering though, and sadly highlights a lot of things that are wrong with the culture of enforcement agencies in this country. Really concerning that those people are supposed to keep us safe.

  51. @ Luke
    Yes, of course you’re right: the “no need for masks” line back in March was a reflection of unavailability. Had there been adequate supplies, they would have been encouraged if not mandated. The whole truth was not being told, presumably to avoid panic and to ensure adequate supplies for frontline healthcare/essential services staff.

  52. MIami CBP folks are probably one of the worst in the system. When they first installed the Global Entry kiosks in the temporary facility, the officer did not know about them. Also, one of the directional signs printed on paper pointed passengers into a wall.

    Back on topic…. the officers can claim that since they are a federal facility, local/state mandates do not apply. Since there are no national-level requirement to wear a facial covering, technically they are not violating any mask wearing mandates. However, they are stupid for not wearing one.

    Also, pick your battle when you are dealing with CBP. They could easily retaliate against you, including making you ineligible for Global Entry or detain you to search through your belongings, including content of your laptop. Yes it’s wrong, but it’s going to take a whole bunch of red tape to correct the issue, if you can that is.

  53. For those saying Miami CPB are one of the worst, how do they compare to NYC, LA and SF? I found the LA ones to be decent.

  54. Miami CBP has always been amongst the worst of the CBP bunch at major international airports. All that “war on drugs” there had them tripping on power and who knows what else.

    @Larry Miller,

    You seem to be looking forward to getting yourself locked up behind bars. Report back to us with how much you like wearing jail/prison-issued underwear and inmate uniforms. I look forward to violent criminals — whether in CBP or other law enforcement uniforms or not — being duly locked up as criminals, and you would not be an exception.

  55. Also, pick your battle when you are dealing with CBP. They could easily retaliate against you, including making you ineligible for Global Entry or detain you to search through your belongings, including content of your laptop. Yes it’s wrong, but it’s going to take a whole bunch of red tape to correct the issue, if you can that is.
    – ptahcha

    Just as an aside to this general conversation, can I say how messed up it is that we have to acknowledge this to be the case about our law enforcement? Many people in this thread have made similar comments, “pick your battles, they might retaliate” and such. This is why redirecting police funding is even on the table in the first place. Law enforcement are not serving the purpose for which they exist – to protect and serve – if this is the reality we live in.

  56. Thank you for starting this social media shaming movement. These public servants must lead by example. Darwinism needs to work faster.

  57. Lucky got a lot of clicks for nothing of a story. I would strongly advise against interacting with DHS officers on any matters not related to clearing the immigration and customs when entering USA. You could be distracting officers when someone is trying sneak in across the border. At least this is what they are going to say and they do have all the rights to do so.

  58. @Luke

    How’s that redirecting police funding working out for you in Chicago this morning ?
    How about NYC ?

  59. The mask crowd is going overboard. I now see about 50% wearing masks outside when distancing is easy. How far people going to take this?

    How quickly the narrative will change when Status Quo Sleepy Joe wins the election.

    I’m not anti mask, but also not living in fear. I’d knock someone across the face if they approached me and tried to shame me – you have it coming if you keep opening your mouth. Stop being self righteous.

  60. Seriously Lucky?!? You’ve travelled from a corona hotspot to Turkey via several other countries. It’s great that you’re wearing a mask and I believe the CBP officers come across as morons, but you come across as incredibly self righteous. Stones and glass houses come to mind.

    While masks help, they’re not a miracle cure nor a vaccine. Your obsession with them has replaced your obsession with air nozzles.

  61. The refusal to wear masks is only due to Trump turning it into some bullshit political statement. This is life and death and the virus only cares if you like Trump because you make it easier for it to transmit.

  62. I totally agree, you were right to call them out. They should have been wearing masks, for your safety and theirs. Those of us who work for the federal government are taught in trainings that we are the public face of the government and, as such, need to set a good example. Obviously there are many of my fellow civil servants who don’t take that seriously.

    Having said that, you must also understand that states have no authority over federal employees while they are conducting their duties. There is no federal mask mandate, so it truly doesn’t matter what MIA or the county health officials require — the CBP officers cannot be required to wear masks on duty unless someone in the federal chain of command says so.

  63. I agreed with what you did. People like them are why the covid mess in this country is getting worst. People like them should be called out! Good job Ben.

  64. How’s that redirecting police funding working out for you in Chicago this morning ?
    How about NYC ?
    – D3kingg

    1. No funds have been redirected, so I don’t know what your point is, but NYC is still one of the safest cities in the country, in any case. Per capita murder rates are on par with European cities. I’ve lived 6 or 7 blocks from a public housing project in Brooklyn for almost 10 years. I feel perfectly safe. I could go outside and take a picture right now, if you like. If you are under the impression that there is an epidemic of crime and violence here, then your news sources are promoting a certain viewpoint & agenda that isn’t borne out by reality.

    2. Do you or do you not believe that it is right that we, as a society, have to say things like, “think twice before you confront an officer over an issue, they may retaliate against you,” even when no laws are being broken? How would you feel if the police had retaliated against legal anti-mask protests back in April & May, even when protesters were shouting in their faces? How would you feel if the issue at hand was something else that mattered to you like, say, whether the police could confiscate a firearm without due process?

  65. Penn Adams,

    The regional authority for the better part of southern Sweden is thinking of putting in place a mask-wearing mandate. That part of Sweden may require mask use as a condition to use the public transit system buses/trains.

    I am in Sweden and the region for much of this pandemic period. Want me to report more? 😀

  66. There must be airport video of these guys. I’d definitely place a formal complaint with the date and time of the incident.

    More to the point, perhaps these CBP officers will be jobless soon as no one will be flying into, from or through (potentially shutdown) Florida airports due to the out of control COVID situation in that state. It’s amazing how the anti-mask crowd doesn’t see the trickle down effect of their own stupidity.

  67. Welcome to Trumplandia! Schools are open here in Texas without mask requirements. My partner who is a school teacher has been on edge all summer about this.

    If it were me, I would spray anyone who got near me without a mask with Lysol, just like Eddie in the episode of “France”

  68. WOW! This is incredible!
    You used to be afraid of your own shadow: generally you avoided confrontation and ran home to quickly blog about it.
    Now you allegedly confronted uniformed authority figures!
    Amazing.
    The pandemic truly is changing us and how we live.

  69. The poster says they pledge to offer respect and dignity. The 2and encounter did this. The first, not so much. In the first encounter, perhaps accepting the guy’s offer to wear a mask would be ok but the guy who with the beard is hopeless.

    By confronting them, there was a small risk of being tasered to death as happened to a white man at Vancouver airport (YVR).

    As far as blaming Trump in some comments above, while Trump is a jerk, federal employees tend to be Democrats so Biden is at the fault. Great logic, eh?

  70. Whats with these liberals thinking they can just walk around and police everybody else. Next time mind your own business and move on!

  71. How very … American. If I read this story on Facebook or somewhere, I would think it was from someone who has had no exposure to global cultures and had never traveled outside of the US.

    Law enforcement already have a tough enough job without citizens, well-intentioned or not, giving them attitude.

    Pretty ridiculous to appoint oneself mask police if you ask me. If you have issues; if coronavirus has sent you over the edge, stay home and MYOB.

    Flaunting and taunting righteous indignation only ADDS to what’s already a difficult environment. Don’t be a Karen.

  72. I hate travel shamers but I have to admit this is a very hypocritical post when you are gallivanting around the world which is a much more likely vector of virus transmission than two cbp officers not wearing a mask.

  73. I went thru MIA twice in the last week (36k F saver fare LAX-MBJ via MIA) on international travel and saw the same thing. Not surprised by the attitude you received either as MIA is consistent with this. Sad, especially considering how Florida has blown up and Miami/Dade county is in real bad shape. Glad you shared this with the public.

  74. Trump has turned DHS and CBP into such a sh*tshow that it’s going to take decades to clean up after. Party of law and order… sure, if you consider banana republic governance a good example of law and order.

    Glad you stood up to them, Lucky.

    And I love watching the the rightwing trolls gleefully piss themselves in submission when it comes to even the most illegitimate displays of authority. You can throw out the constitution and law books so long as you’re wearing some sort of uniform and offer (mostly false) promises of safety.

  75. Good on you, Ben. This is exactly the problem in the US – many law enforcement officers simply believe they are above everyone else and should never dare to be questioned. The attitude from many is that they are there to be feared and respected rather than public servants working for us and on our behalf. And your little example here is so symptomatic of the broader problems facing American society at the moment. If well educated and well-off white folks like yourself get this level of attitude and dismissal from authority figures, it’s easy to see why the poorer and colored amongst have such a tortured experience with US-based law enforcement. A major attitude needs to shift so that these types of power-trippers realize that they work for us, and are not beings above us that demand and command a certain level of fear or undue respect.

  76. Mind you own business? First off, this officer is blatantly ignoring the rules he’s supposed to be enforcing. How can anybody take them seriously with this going on? Second, if that idiot CBP officer is spreading disease during a GLOBAL PANDEMIC, IT IS MY BUSINESS.

    I’m hearing about Covid can cause ‘brain fog’. Many comments here would seem to back that idea up.

  77. If you don’t follow the rules you should be terminated. CBP like DHS have a lot of low end people collecting a government paycheck and think they can’t be fired.

    Our company policy is wearing a mask anytime you are away from your desk and a lady who has to work later at night has encountered a couple of guards who don’t. The company is working with the contractor to get them removed.

    The anti-maskers don’t realize, it isn’t optional in many places, it is required. You are the one violating the rules and should be punished. If you can’t follow the rules stay home and whine about how unfair life is for you and your fellow idiots.

  78. If you go up the chain far enough, you get to Donald Trump. This is the kind of culture he is promoting. The attitude these officers had is not good and the claim about masks and beards is ridiculous. You definitely have guts for bringing this up to the officers and being so forward with them!

  79. It’s good to see the a bunch of people appropriate the colloquialism “Karen.” A term used to describe white people who weaponize the police against black people is now being used to describe…a white guy who lightly confronted CBP (police-adjacent at the least). Truly incredible.

    (Also, hey Ben and Tiffany…sorry for being an epic flake – I still read, at least)

  80. Ben I love your posts and admire your calling the officer out. Public Health first!

    But unless it’s essential you’re not really supposed to be traveling right now to begin with, so it’s a bit of the pot calling the kettle black here, no?

  81. @DB,

    You’re absolutely wrong. It’s about 2% mortality when treated. But if you overwhelm the healthcare system (hospital beds and ICU beds) that number goes up much more. Out of people that recover, many have terrible quality of life and some never return to baseline functioning. Stop spreading false info. If it ends up getting one person killed because someone was too lazy or stubborn to wear a mask in a job where they have to screen hundreds of props daily, then they have the right to be called out and reprimanded.

  82. Kind of a separate issue not related to mask – do all international arrivals need to go through temperature checks at the major US receiving airports? I heard that even 5 months into the pandemics, there are still no temperature screening stations (or temp screening) at LAX for international arrivals.

  83. @db nobody thinks the fatality rate is that low. Not even close. But regardless, even at your number, that still is hundreds of thousands of deaths. If wearing masks could prevent thousands of deaths, is that still not worth doing?

  84. People immediately pointing fingers at the president miss the point completely. Miami-Dade has had stricter laws since April in regards to COVID. It hasn’t worked.

    People immediately pointing fingers at CBP at MIA miss the point completely. Miami-Dade has had stricter laws since April in regards to COVID. It hasn’t worked.

    This is a MIAMI problem. People in this city simply do not care about anyone but themselves. It’s always been this way. COVID is just making it more and more obvious. People shirtless and maskless at gyms, offices open at full capacity without masks/distancing, boats so packed they look like they’re going to sink, etc.

    You can pass all the laws you want, no one here will follow them. Law enforcement are the same self-absorbed people as the rest of the population here; they don’t even care to follow the laws themselves, let alone enforce them for the better good of the population at-large.

  85. It hasn’t worked? Huh, maybe that has to do with federal officials ignoring/not enforcing those rules as Lucky documented here? Maybe something to do with an idiot guv like DeSantis who’s clearly well out of his depth?

    And this isn’t a MIAMI problem. This is a FLORIDA TEXAS ATLANTA SOCAL PHOENIX NEW ORLEANS etc etc etc problem.

  86. @Dan I guess you lack basic reading comprehension?

    Miami has had their own rules/laws for months. They re-opened three weeks later than DeSantis’ orders for the rest of the state. They then curtailed restaurant re-openings and no longer allow indoor dining at all. There’s been mandatory indoor/outdoor mask policies for months now. What else is Miami-Dade County to do?

    The point of my post, which you completely missed, is that Miami-Dade County can pass every law/rule possible to try and stop COVID, but it all comes down to the population giving a $hit and complying. No one here cares to do that, and that’s why we’re such a problem area.

    The reaction from the CBP officers is the same reaction many Miami residents would have to the same questions. The fact that these two also happen to be miserable MIA CPB officers isn’t the entire story here.

  87. Hope you had a good trip, but yes, mind your own business was good advice. I’m sure they did not require assistance breathing.

  88. @Carl

    If you understand why masks are recommended, which you probably don’t based on your comment, you will understand that people not wearing masks in your presence kinda is your business, since it is putting you at risk.

  89. The reality of the mask movement requires a form of civic engagement that has been eroded in the US by a societal evolution toward mercenary individualism.

    The rise of the anti-maskers is a visceral response to the generally shared feeling of American decline – a response that is irrational and yet driven by concepts not entirely false.

    Regardless of who wins in November, expect laissez-faire globalists to lose.

  90. Jo, I tend to agree. Lots of virtue signaled here. From the “Do Better” banner to confusing mask policing (no problem on the ATV tour but an issue at customs).
    I miss pics of premium class cabins (especially the meals).

  91. Sounds like they confronted you, not the other way around. MIA CBP is the worst. Welcome back!

  92. Same exact experience landing at BWI on July 31, 2020. My wife had to do her Global Entry on Arrival with an agent not wearing his mask. Not that anyone in our gov’t cares, but his name was “Jones”

  93. @Anthony- It’s MOOOOOOOOORONS like you why this virus continues to spread. You probably work for do-nothing-donald duck. Yes, the best 3rd rate president ever.

    Keep up the good work big guy, you should move to Miami.

  94. Not smart to mess with these guys. Whether you are morally right or wrong. They can make your life a living hell. Especially with the amount of traveling you do.

    Not smart at all. Sorry.

  95. @DB

    I stand corrected. Looks like the current CDC estimate is .65% of those infected with COVID die from the virus. I definitely thought it was over 1% but I was wrong.

    BTW .65% of the US population is ~2.1 million people. While we will presumably never have a situation where 100% of the US population get COVID, 60% or 70% is not impossible and that is still over 1 million deaths. If wearing masks can slow the spread and prevent some of those deaths, surely that is worth doing?

    I suspect your attitude is “no point doing anything, millions may die but I probably won’t so who cares?”. Which kinda sucks. Wearing a mask when around others in indoor spaces is literally the least you can do.

  96. Ben,

    As Voltaire once opined “I may not agree with what you said . . . but I will defend with my life your right to say it.

    You verbalized what so many of us less emboldened would have wanted to do and I think I understand why you did it.

    Rules, policies, bylaws etc. should never be open to personal interpretation. You’re a far braver man that I Mr. S.

  97. I used come for travel information but this place has turned into a version of Dear Diary.

    Better blogs out there.

  98. @Patti

    I kind of feel the same way. It’s pretty gutsy to virtue signal about face masks after coming back from a non-essential international trip during a global pandemic. Like, I would feel so bad about potentially exposing my community to something I picked on that trip that I could never bring myself to start lecturing other people about their own (comparatively minor) “infractions”.

  99. Look at the IMHE recommendation. There’s no way you’re going to get 100% of any group in the United States to comply with something, especially those who think they are above the law. IMHE recommends 95% as a realistic goal for mask wearing: http://www.healthdata.org/news-release/new-ihme-covid-19-forecasts-see-nearly-300000-deaths-december-1

    That’s why I don’t worry about 1 or 2 people not wearing masks unless I am in a situation where I’m forced to interact with them for a sustained period. I’m only going to bother myself if a large number of people aren’t wearing masks or if there’s no way to avoid close interaction with the maskless individual. Sure it would be great to have 100% compliance, but I’m actually impressed at the 90%+ compliance I’m seeing in most of the US right now.

  100. The beauty of a blog; I love listening and gathering ones opinion where, even if I dont agree with it, I certainly respect opposite views. Reactions to experiences as bold as the interaction on here to am equally bold trip during current times bring the best of what this site started with; sharing unusual amd new experiences and gaining knowledge\feedback. You can still live life and have strong opinions on how society should function at the same time. Keep up the good work.

  101. DHS should really be broken up and so should CBP. We should go to having generally unarmed immigration and customs SERVICES units at airports instead of a widely armed “patrol“ force at airports.

  102. BEN, stay in your lane. Youre the clown who is flying around the world for “pleasure” in the middle of a pandemic, when DOS recommended NOT TO TRAVEL. Youre just as guilty as them. So keep moving and self isolate for 14 days (AWAY from your computer too please)

    All your posts lately are clickbait. I understand you trying to make a buck, but my goodness, find something better to write about. These officers have to deal with people like you who dont follow any common sense and are only thinking about themselves and their adventures and travel.

    contact CBP and complain, they will get back to you. But will probably tell you that you shouldnt be traveling if you worried about Corona!

  103. Ben, good for you. This is awesome. The CBP needs to remember that they are our pubic servants, paid for with public tax dollars, and that they work for us. It is the least that they can do to wear masks and keep the public healthy by example.

  104. Could have been any number of perfectly legitimate reasons they weren’t wearing masks. But for you to march up and confront them was out of line. Given the adversarial conduct of so many towards uniforms, they likely thought you were just a police hating troublemaker, and responded with appropriate distain. Just MYOB!

  105. @RC Sadly your only audience is people who read comments on a blog. If Ben didn’t post who would listen to your drivel?

  106. Sorry Ben I don’t agree with your decision to confront these guys for many of the same reasons mentioned by others. I think you are laying yourself out there for future retaliation. And to Johnny Jett get a life this is not about Trump! Don’t be a “Karen”. It can go both ways you know.

  107. @larry Miller

    Your lack of intelligence is appalling! Breaking someone’s nose just because you don’t like being asked a question will land you in jail and in the hospital! Let’s see how far you get with that kind of stupid attitude.

  108. JFC America deserves everything it gets just based on half the replies of covidiots right here. Supposedly everyone here is of a reasonable level of education and can also read beyond propaganda and bs. Clearly that is a serious overstatement. All the way down to the “punch you in the nose” trumpanzee.

    Every damn far eastern country has been doing masks for years. It’s beyond proven to work. They told you no because they didn’t have any. As soon as they did they changed their tune. If you cannot figure out that the current US gov is not to be trusted on anything then there really is no hope you’ll get your country back.
    So glad I left.

  109. @Pete I couldn’t have said it better myself. I so badly want to travel to Greece to visit my family and friends like I do every summer. I had 2 months planned this year. Even though I am technically allowed to enter the country, I decided to cancel my trip because it is not worth the risk of infecting those that I love in Greece or here in the US. Non-essential travel during this time is selfish, especially from a major hotspot and back. Would it be nice if everyone complied and wore their masks? Absolutely. Unfortunately, that’s not realistic. To expect and demand full compliance after traveling overseas is extremely hypocritical. I am relatively new to reading this blog and I really enjoy it but this whole trip rubbed me the wrong way.

  110. Trivia answer for @Shawn~ “good on you” is an Australian expression; always has been. May be used in other English-speaking countries (NZ?); haven’t really noticed.

  111. @ Ben ( Lucky ) ….Yes , I agree with others here that it was a gutsy move. But , Lucky, do not be surprised if you will always get the dreaded X , either on your Global Entry or at the regular passport scan machine. You can be sure that although those CBP officers in your narrative did not ask to see your passport ( and therefore get your name ), I am sure that at least one CBP officer out there reads this blog and your name will have been noted. Welcome to the eternal flagged club. No annual membership fees. Haha.

  112. I’ve come to the conclusion (having read up on it a lot) – there’s no real evidence that masks are effective but it’s a small trade off to make to make people feel safe, on the chance it works there’s only upside etc. Luckily, _if_ masks are at all effective it’s not going to require 100% compliance for them to have an impact. And fwiw even though there’s a perception that mask compliance in the US is low, it’s actually not that bad in the states that have actually mandated it. Cases are also tumbling in Florida, Texas, Arizona atm with the given set of behavioural norms which people have adopted. So – given this, I wouldn’t call anyone out on this issue, personally.

  113. Kudos to you Ben! Please keep pointing out these kinds of things. I always bite my tongue in these kinds of situations. So glad you spoke up. Maybe it will inspire me to say something next time.

  114. @Luke
    I also live in Brooklyn and I work for the district attorney office. Let’s just use the month of July, shootings are up 177% compared to 2019. Murders are 59% compared to 2019.

    There have been 821 shootings and 1,000 gun victims as of Saturday 8/8. Last year for same time frame, there were 466 shootings and 551 victims, while in 2018, there were 449 incidents and 548 victims. That means combined, there were 905 shooting incidents and 1,099 victims for time period in 2018 and 2019 — close to the totals for this year alone, according to statistics released by the NYPD on Sunday. So yes I would say there is an epidemic of crime and violence here. Just because you haven’t been affected doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    The funding most definitely have been redirected and taken away from NYPD but the absolute worst was the disbanding of the 600 person Anti-Crime Unit and that almost directly correlates to the increase in shootings.

    It’s amusing to me how you so proudly say you live 6 or 7 blocks from a housing project. Most people in Brooklyn can probably say they live that far from a housing project. How about you try living IN the housing projects and tell me if you still feel the same way.

    Also, I would love to see you take that photo but do it at night and inside the housing project, not 6 or 7 blocks safely away from the reality that many people deal with but clearly not you

  115. I think you just preyed on service people because you could. They have rights and a point of view also. And how you handled the situation and were confrontational makes one question your motives.

  116. I wonder if anyone telling him he shouldn’t be flying thought about the fact that these men probably would be laid off from their jobs if some people were not flying for pleasure? They are there to serve us, that is their job. The same people telling him he shouldn’t be traveling are probably people who scream about our god-given rights to do what we want to do. No masks, no restrictions, etc or the extreme other side. We didn’t do enough and we still are not. The solution isn’t all staying home at this point but it could be all trying to protect one another

  117. @Lucky
    Love your blog! Quick question – was there much in the way of health checks etc during the arrival process at MIA? I believe you flew back on LH from a Schengen Airport. I am flying on KL from AMS to LAX next week so am curious what your experiences were. My understanding is that there is no longer a need to quarantine when one gets home to the US unless there are symptoms which is logical given the prevalence in Europe v US. Thanks.

  118. Good on you Ben.

    Also I remember you used to say how you weren’t keen to assert yourself in case of issue. Not that I think you need to be just challenging people for the sake of it, but it’s good to see that you were willing to call out what is a significant breach for a major health issue.

  119. Protection? Of course. Nevertheless people are missing one very important aspect about wearing a mask. “Wearing a mask reassure others.”

    Why be provocative when not wearing a mask just creates frustration, anger and stress in the “herd”?

  120. I would just have dropped my mask also. And probably you got a fine for that 😉 The whole mask debate is useless. Examples: look at Sweden, no measures and currently equal to some European countries who took hard measures. Only difference economy in Sweden is still ok…
    What about Japan they took different measures and only minimal dead. Or New Zealand. Why don’t we learn from these examples?

    Changes to catch Covid-19 in a airplane are extremely low. (due to airflow downwards, very good filtering, outside airflow and every 3 minutes fresh air) The real problem is bad ventilation INSIDE buildings. There are enough scientific examples for this. The best solution would be very good ventilation inside buildings. Meaning filtering and outside air into the building.

    All the masks are useless. Outside in the open totally useless. What will work is social distancing OUTSIDE.

    Keep safe you all and hopefully we can start travelling again soon.

  121. @ Leo — There was a CDC employee at the arrival gate who just asked us if we were experiencing shortness of breath. When we said no, he handed us a flyer about recommendations for wearing masks, etc., and sent us on our way.

  122. Why are you surprised? Look at all the (mostly Trump supporting) anti-maskers, anti Black lives matter people. All the 2nd amendment anti mass shooting idiots. All the Bible bashing morons.

    Why don’t people actually realize how low on the list of decent countries the US really is?

    It’s an extremely undesirable place to live. Or visit.

    For the system(s) in place and the arrogant, not so smart people almost everywhere.

  123. I think you need to evaluate your consistency level as to looking at your own actions and how you see the actions of others. While the CBP officer was not wearing as mask as required you just got off your return flight from Turkey. Until 8/10 the State Department had a level 4 Do Not Travel status for Turkey. Was your “exemption” from that directive somehow different than the CBP officer deciding the mask directive didn’t apply to him.

  124. Interesting. As recently as July 10, you were traveling internationally with a companion that was donning a face mask that incorporated unfiltered exhalation valves. This is exactly the type of mask one wears to protect themselves at the expense of those in their vicinity. When called out, you: (i) deleted the image evidence of this mistake from your blog, (ii) deleted the majority of the comments that drew attention to this error, and then (iii) issued an apology on July 20. Issuing an apology showed a lot of honor and courage. Failing to reinstate the deleted comments and then — less than one month later — calling out others for also making mistakes relative to mask wearing…not so much.

    It is clear you didn’t appreciate being called out for making a mistake, so why take a few extra steps to do the same thing to two complete strangers?

  125. ugh. enough of Americans with “good on you”, “no worries”, and “cheers”. drop the affectation. please.

    beyond that, enough with the travel shaming too. responsible people know what they are doing. it could be said that far more damage is done by irresponsible local movement than prudent world wide(whatever that translates to currently) movement.

    anyhoo…

  126. Good on you Ben for using your white privilege/american citizen privilege to call them out. You did the right thing even though it might be perceived as a “karen” thing to do

  127. “ Curious, did you wear a mask during the much deadlier H1N1 pandemic disaster under obama? ”

    A poster actually wrote the above. Incredible. This is America. A lot of truly dumb people.

  128. goodness gracious, have been off of this for like 9-10 month exactly because of this sort of utmost god-like level hypocrisy; came back cause pandemic takes its toll on all of us and here you go – the third post i open is a dude who came back from non-essential for-fun travel halfway across the world with multiple transfers lecturing others on how to protect the community. Yet, clearly it’s the law enforcement who are at fault. There truly are no words to describe the level of entitlement and hypocrisy required to do this sort of stuff. It was good seeing you, till the next pandemic.

  129. I completely understand and respect your reasons for approaching those officers. But man, being of Muslim and Middle Eastern descent I would not have the freedom and privilege to similarly confront them.

  130. Serious question… Do you people actually think that the hiring of these two CBP employees actually has anything to do with Trump? Seriously?

  131. Video. A posted video will enforce this mandate. You were looked at as if you had no power over them. Youtube a vid and heads will roll. The hospital is in public now. if you don’t wear a mask in a hospital, you get fired fir putting people and yourself at risk. It never ever matters how healthy you are. Its about transmission. If more people thought this way it might much easier to understand. The contagious disease ward is now public, so act as if you were visiting a relative there wherever you go. It’s as simple as that.

  132. In the now famous words of Donald Trump: “look, it is what it is!”
    I’m waiting for moral narcissism to apply to shaming people who refuse a covid-19 vaccine, it’s coming, watch!

  133. Ben, totally respect your guts for pointing that out to them.

    I’m not freaking out over covid by any means. I think we as a society and world have massively overreacted to the situation. The travel bans, shutdowns, stay at home orders are all ridiculous in my opinion and the economic effects will over time probably kill more people than the virus. Even though I feel that way, one thing we should all be able to agree on is wearing masks when appropriate. I can’t think of a more appropriate time than around crowds inside a major international airport. And I hate it when authourity figures don’t follow their own rules.

    Also, thank you for getting out and traveling again. Many people including me depend on travel and tourism for a living. Even more in other less fortunate nations that have many people dependent on tourism. I’m glad you’re doing what’s necessary to get back out there and feel safe while you do it.

    Please keep traveling and sharing your experiences. Hopefully others will start to see it can be done safely and we can get back to some kind of normal soon. I can’t wait to get on a plane, go somewhere and start enjoying life again, and as soon as the right nations open their borders I will, even if it means wearing a mask for 24+ hours straight to get there.

    Thanks for your excellent blog, stay safe and keep traveling.

  134. Do you have a video or pic? If it’s not on video it didn’t happen. Maybe you just looking for clout. Typical white guy minding everyone else’s business. To bad they didn’t throw your ass in a van like the rioters in Portland. Next time ware your white privilege on robbing a bank. ‍♂️

  135. @alonso

    Why does this have to be race issue? Who the fuck cares what color his skin is. I too would have opened my mouth and said something. I’m sick and tired of these dumb ass Americans who want to go and cry their “rights” are being infringed upon and that they want to play this macho card saying they don’t have to wear a mask, virus be damned! It makes one look weak when they can’t even abide by a simple request to just do the right thing for the good of everyone. If everyone that refuses to wear a mask would just pull their heads out of their asses just for a bit, then we wouldn’t be in this predicament. And simply asking an airport rent-a-cop why he’s not wearing a mask hardly constitutes a reason to throw your ass in a van, like you somehow think it would. They hardly have that kind of authority to begin with. And it’s “wear” not ware. You’re welcome!

  136. *Flies halfway across the world from a a COVID hot spot*
    *Immediately confronts an individual about mask wearing upon return*

    Anthony, I couldn’t agree with you more lol. Hypocrisy has a new level. Don’t forget the husband rolling his eyes with a complete glare down for those on the plane without masks on their US trip lol

    Didn’t go through all the comments but it would appear the confrontation was made for the purposes of writing a blog post and perhaps get everyone’s attention. Lol. I guess only Ben knows if that is true.

    The Points guy has more interesting posts and not these Desperate Housewives of OMAAT episodes….I mean those shows are Ben’s favourite (wink)

  137. I have had far more negative experiences with CBP officers than TSA officers. They seem to be people bitter about not being able to be actual soldiers or police officers

  138. You took an 11 hour flight from Istanbul were over 200 people on board shared recycling air and two toilets for 11 hours. Not to mention eating out of the same galley. The was also a handful of people on the flight not wearing the mask while they slept. And you choose to confront the one person that is standing behind a glass cube? I only know because I flew this same flight on Saturday. Who wronged you in life ? Are you still mad that you did get a full can of Coca-Cola ? Next time charter a private flight. Stop whining

  139. @ Zeyed Mohammed — We were on different flights. I was on a flight with a total of 25 passengers, where the nearest other passenger was 12+ feet away from me. And the officers in question weren’t standing behind a glass shield. And this “recycled air” you’re talking about is better than virtually any other air you would breathe indoors, thanks to the HEPA filters.

    Also, you flew from Istanbul to Miami on Saturday, or what route? Because TK77 didn’t operate on Saturday, according to Flightradar24.

  140. Couldn’t see this blog post on the main page but it shows in the trending section on the top.

    My comments were deleted from last night. This is a first lol. Well it is your site and you are free to do what you like lol

  141. I understand your frustration, Ben. First, the CBP area at an airport is under federal purview. And there’s no federal mandate to wear masks, currently. Secondly, were they in close proximity (<6-10 feet away) to the traveling public when you started talking to them? If not, you should’ve minded your own business. I get your point, but you cannot force your beliefs onto other people.

  142. @Eddard Stark – this isn’t Ben’s “belief”. It’s science. And public health. We have every right to demand that public officials set the right example and to call them out when they endanger us. Putting on a surgical mask takes all of 2 seconds, shame on them.

  143. @ Eddard Stark:
    Wearing a mask is not a belief, it’s scientifically proven to be reducing the transmission of viruses. People like you who think that this is a belief made this country the epicenter of the pandemic.

  144. It’s laughable to see how much of an issue is this nonsense mask-wearing in the US. Go to Belarus – US citizens are allowed to enter visa-free via MSQ airport and see what do Belorussians think about the whole covid psychosis. 90% of people do not wear any masks, even on the public transport. Hotels are operating as usual, Marriott serves normal self-service buffet breakfast. And hospitals are not full, there is no excess mortality at all. Do you still believe in this BS? According to your beloved CDC, mortality of covid is 0.20%…

  145. @Johan – Same in Czechia. There are virtually no Covid meassures right now (except mass events) and yet you could count patients in ICU on one hand. Everything’s cool, people are enjoying the summer and having a good time, while most people in the English-speaking world seem to have been living in constant fear and anxiety for last couple of months. It’s crazy.

    CZ government is trying to reintroduce masks from September, but the public outcry is so strong I consider it likely that they will backtrack on that. It speaks volumes that the prime minister is silent on the matter.

  146. Virtually all Police offices and agencies have unions. Most people forget this. Management may want to do things differently, but the unions are very strong. This is the case with CBP and NTEU. That is why CBP always says talk to a supervisor because you will most likely get a customer friendly response from a supervisor as opposed to the not so friendly officer response. CBP supervisors have to shave while the CBP Officers can grow beards.

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