The steady increase of U.S. citizens traveling with smart phones and other electronic devices has been met with the rise of searches and seizures by CBP officers at U.S borders. Although only less than 0.1% of all travelers may actually be subjected to a search while entering the United States, when comparing the statistics between a six month period in 2016 with the same period in 2017, electronic device searches have almost doubled from 8,383 to 14,993. Approximately one million travelers to the U.S. are inspected by the CBP every day. Out of this population, nearly 2,500 electronic devices are searched on a monthly basis starting back in October 2016. Visitors, permanent residents, and even U.S. citizens’ electronics may be subject to search and seizure by CBP. This Comment will first examine the constitutionality of warrantless searches of electronic devices at United States borders, a developing and fascinating legal controversy which magnifies the broader debate between collective security and individual privacy. The courts have not fully determined whether a U.S. citizen's electronic device can be searched at the border or airport. This comment also examines the case, Alasaad v. Nielsen and provides an analysis of how the court should rule on the request by plaintiffs that border officers should have probable cause and secure a warrant before searching and confiscating electronic devices. This Comment also addresses the disproportionate amount of Muslims that are randomly inspected and questioned at the border and how the current administration’s bias towards Muslims have coincided and enforced this arbitrary screening method. Finally, this comment will recommend that the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts rule in favor of the Alasaad family and other plaintiffs by issuing an order of injunctive and declaratory relief against the unlawful warrantless searches and seizures of the DHS, CBP and ICE.
Warrantless Searches of Electronic Devices at U.S. Borders: Securing The Nation or Violating Digital Liberty?,
Cath. U. J. L. & Tech
Available at: https://scholarship.law.edu/jlt/vol27/iss2/8
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