Customs and Border Protection agents have been intensively questioning Muslims at U.S. border crossings about their political and religious beliefs, as well as asking for their social media information, and demanding passwords to open mobile phones, according to a set of complaints filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
In one case, a 23-year old American citizen alleges that he was choked by a CBP agent after declining to hand over his phone for inspection while crossing the border back from Canada.The complaints deal with the cases of nine people who have been stopped at various U.S. border crossings, eight of whom are American citizens, and one Canadian. They were filed to the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Justice.
The Intercept also reported on portions of a questionnaire used by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents that included invasive questions about religious practices and beliefs. While warrants are normally required for federal authorities to search cellphones, this requirement does not apply at border crossings.
The complaints filed by CAIR allege that CBP agents have been asking travelers questions including, “are you a devout Muslim”, “what do you think of the United States”, and “what are your views about jihad?” The complaints also say that people have reported being asked whether they attend a mosque and what their opinions are about various terrorist groups.The complaints also allege that border agents have asked Muslims residing in America to provide their social media information at the border.
One of the cases in the complaints involved Akram Shibly, a 23-year-old Muslim American citizen from Buffalo. He told The Intercept that he had been detained at the border during two separate incidents in early January, including one where he says agents physically assaulted him when he declined to give them his cellphone.
During the first incident, while driving back to the United States from Canada on New Year’s Day, he and his fiancée were pulled aside, searched and interrogated by border agents. Shibly said that he and his fiancée’s cellphones were confiscated and taken into a back room out of view. They were given forms to fill out that asked for passwords to unlock their devices, as well as for their email addresses and information about their family background.