Tags: Homeland Security | Religion | border | crossing | cell phone | muslim americans

NBC: Border Agents Search Muslim-Americans' Cell Phones

Image: NBC: Border Agents Search Muslim-Americans' Cell Phones
The US-Canada border (AP Images)

By    |   Monday, 13 Mar 2017 05:58 PM

A new report claims that American citizens, both naturalized and those born in the United States, are having their cell phones searched while entering and leaving the country at various ports.

NBC News details the practice and looked at 25 cases. All but two of the people were Muslims.

In one case, a 23-year-old man and his girlfriend were stopped on Jan. 1 while trying to reenter the U.S. from Canada. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents held the pair for two hours and looked through the contents of their cell phones, which required having the couple give up their passwords.

The pair went to Canada shortly after and returned to the U.S. on Jan. 4. They were again asked for their cell phones, and when the man — filmmaker Akram Shibly — refused, he said the agents put him in a choke hold and took his cell phone from his pocket. His girlfriend willfully handed hers over, and the pair again revealed their passwords to allow the agents access.

NBC details other cases of the same practice occurring elsewhere in the U.S., including a NASA engineer arriving in the U.S. from Chile and another man who was trying to board a plane in Los Angeles.

The network reports that searching people and their property at border crossings without probable cause is legal under U.S. law. The Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans against illegal search and seizure, does not apply at the border. This gives border agents powers other law enforcement officers and agents do not have.

Department of Homeland Security data provided to NBC shows the number of cell phone searches at U.S. border crossings went up dramatically from 2005 to 2016, less than 5,000 to almost 25,000. There were 5,000 mobile devices searched last month, which indicates a record pace for 2017.

"This really puts at risk both the security and liberty of the American people," Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, told NBC. "Law abiding Americans are being caught up in this digital dragnet."

Wyden wrote a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly last month regarding border cell phone searches. According to LawNewz, Wyden wrote:

"These reports are deeply troubling, particularly in light of your recent comments suggesting CBP [Customs and Border Protection] might begin demanding social media passwords from visitors to the United States. With those passwords, CBP may then be able to log in to accounts and access data that they would otherwise only be able to get from Internet companies with a warrant. Circumventing the normal protections for such private information is simply unacceptable."

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A new report claims that American citizens, both naturalized and those born in the United States, are having their cell phones searched while entering and leaving the country at various ports.
border, crossing, cell phone, muslim americans
432
2017-58-13
Monday, 13 Mar 2017 05:58 PM
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