Long Customs Wait Times at Miami International Airport Led to Yelling, Chanting: Passenger

Some passengers literally hit a wall

By Gilma Avalos
|  Sunday, Mar 17, 2013  |  Updated 1:46 PM EDT
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The seemingly unending Customs queue and frustration of passengers arriving at Miami International Airport Saturday were shared via pictures and videos on Twitter. Passengers Eben James, Linosca Hernandez, Frank Aleman and Sandip Desai described what happened.

The seemingly unending Customs queue and frustration of passengers arriving at Miami International Airport Saturday were shared via pictures and videos on Twitter. Passengers Eben James, Linosca Hernandez, Frank Aleman and Sandip Desai described what happened.

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They were packed in like sardines in a can. Passengers arriving at Miami International Airport faced long wait times to get through customs Saturday. As the lines grew longer, tempers got shorter.

"Yelling and screaming and the chanting. There were old people in there. People are dehydrated, they don't have enough to eat," said Eben James, who was arriving from Canada.

The seemingly unending queue and frustration were shared via pictures and videos on Twitter.

Some passengers literally hit a wall.

"The guy was just hitting the glass and yelling," described Linosca Hernandez, who had just arrived from Nicaragua.

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Even before automatic spending cuts went into effect at the beginning of the month, Homeland Security officials warned of the impact it would have on airports across the nation. It's an impact lived by people whose wait time at the customs line was longer than their flights to Miami.

"It was a 40-minute flight here and we literally were [in line] for about 3 hours and 15 minutes," said Frank Aleman, arriving from Cuba.

Signs around the airport offered explanations. As a result of federal cuts, staffing has been reduced, signs read. Airport officials tell NBC 6 Customs and Border Protection agents can't work overtime hours and therefore there is not enough staff to help passengers. Some worried the burden was being put on local agencies.

"There's gotta be 20 Miami-Dade Police officers in there," James said.

"Tell the politicians to do something!" yelled a woman as she exited the airport.

Loved ones also waited impatiently for family members and guests to arrive for hours on end. One man told NBC 6 his mother is in a wheelchair, and his wife recently had a baby. Both were stuck in line for over three hours.

"I got a stranded call from her that she was panicking," said Sandip Desai, whose wife and mother had made the trip from from Mumbai to Miami. "And I'm panicking too right now as well."

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