4/20/17 – Border Seizures

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If you live between Seattle and San Diego.  Or Portland, Maine and South Florida.  Or anywhere else in-between then listen carefully.

Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.

In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security announced it has the authority to seize and search personal electronic devices along border areas: laptops, tablets, smart phones, cameras, CDs, DVDs. Anything that stores data.

[DHS claimed authority to seize devices from anyone traveling near the border.  And download any information contained.  No warrant.  No probable cause.  Nor even suspicion a crime may have been committed.  It can do it to anyone.  Anytime.  For any reason.  Or no reason at all.]

DHS said it can do this in the name of national security.

[Details on how the Customs & Border Patrol and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will implement the seizure policy are detailed here and here.]

[The Obama Administration announced the new policy in August 2009 but delayed full implementation until after the DHS’s internal civil rights/civil liberties impact assessment was completed.  This assessment was posted online on January 29, 2013.]

It gets worse.  The government argues the border area extends 100 miles into the U.S.  Not just along Canada and Mexico. Even the coastlines.

Two of every three — or about 190 million — Americans live here.

[Nearly one-half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of the two coasts.]

Historically, the courts have given wide latitude to Border Patrol agents arguing their border crossing inspections don’t violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

But that was in the context of searching luggage and vehicles at border crossing points.

Three years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that cell phones may not be searched without a warrant.

Border agents are demanding American and foreign travelers hand-over cell phone passwords.  Device seizures have increased dramatically in recent years.

This is setting up a showdown in the courts.

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