Border Agents Violating Constitution, According to ACLU

Credit: apichon_tee

(Español) The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claims it has discovered new evidence showing that federal agents are violating the United States Constitution in their searches of traveler’s electronic devices upon their entrance to the country. It has long been the policy of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) that, upon entrance to the United States, any electronic devices can be subject to search by a border patrol agent. (Officers of Immigration and Customs Enforcement have a similar policy.) They classify the search into two categories: basic and advanced. The basic search consists of simply going through the device manually. An advanced search involves the agent connecting the device to an external device and using that to either search the device or even make a copy of the device. The CBP agents have always held the right to search a traveler’s belongings for contraband or determine admission into the US; however, now the ACLU is claiming agents are using their authority to search people’s devices for “general law enforcement purposes, such as looking for potential evidence of illegal activity beyond violations of immigration and customs laws.” According to the ACLU, border agents are using the notion of the border, which includes increased search power for the agents, to circumvent the Constitution, notably the first and fourth amendments. Given the nature of the searches, the ACLU claims travelers will censor themselves because they are unaware of their rights at the border and the searches of the devices is against the unreasonable search and seizure portion of the fourth amendment. The CBP says the policies are in place in order to safeguard national security and would not respond to anything pending litigation. The ACLU, bringing a suit from 11 plaintiffs, 10 US citizens and one Legal Permanent Resident, still holds the agency is neglecting people’s rights using the border as justification. As such, the ACLU is asking the judge to make a ruling without having a hearing, given the grave nature of the offenses and the dramatic spike in the searches under the current administration.