Without Warrants, U.S. Border Agents Can Search Devices for Wide Range of Crimes, Lawyers Claim - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Without Warrants, U.S. Border Agents Can Search Devices for Wide Range of Crimes, Lawyers Claim

“We are alarmed by the extent to which the government is using the pretext of the border to make an end-run around the Constitution,” Nathan Freed Wessler, an ACLU attorney, said in an email

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Without Warrants, U.S. Border Agents Can Search Devices for Wide Range of Crimes, Lawyers Claim
    John Moore/Getty Images
    In this August 17, 2016, file photo, U.S. Border Patrol agents process immigrants from Central America while taking them into custody near Roma, Texas.

    U.S. border agents can search the laptops and smartphones of U.S. citizens for evidence of a wide range of crimes without first acquiring warrants, according to allegations made in two new court filings submitted Tuesday that are part of a lawsuit against such electronic searches.

    Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union said new documents and depositions from Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that agents can search the electronic devices of travelers for “general law enforcement” purposes and communicate with other government agencies to search for evidence of crimes including tax evasion and hiding assets in bankruptcy, NBC News reports.

    The September 2017 lawsuit, Alasaad v. McAleenan, filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, involves 10 U.S. citizens and one permanent resident who say that in recent years they were subjected to unlawful searches of their smartphones while returning home. The government argues that the “border exception” to the Fourth Amendment gives it wide latitude to search inbound U.S. citizens in the name of national security.

    Customs and Border Protection also maintains that the searches are legal and exceedingly rare. Privacy activists maintain, however, that the rate of such searches has been rising in recent years.

    Watch: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Full Opening Statement at House Hearing on Reparations

    [NATL] Watch: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Full Opening Statement at House Hearing on Reparations

    Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of “The Case for Reparations,” testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee during a hearing on whether the United States should consider compensation for the descendants of slaves. 

    He delivered a rebuttal to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's comments that "no one currently alive was responsible for that," which Coates called a "strange theory of governance." 

    "Well into this century the United States was still paying out pensions to the heirs of civil war soldiers," he said. "We honor treaties that date back some 200 years despite no one being alive who signed those treaties. Many of us would love to be taxed for the things we are solely and individually responsible for. But we are American citizens and this bound to a collective enterprise that extends beyond our individual and personal reach."

    (Published Wednesday, June 19, 2019)