Why an Illegal Phone Search Got This Man Kicked Out of the USA

Via The Daily Bell

There was no conceivable reason for border agents to be suspicious when “Charles” flew from Brazil to Chigaco, with a final destination of Denver.

But that didn’t stop them from searching his luggage, searching him, and finally searching his phone.

Customs and Border Protection has been ramping up their searches of the electronics of travelers to the United States. Over 30,000 people had their electronics searched at a U.S. airport last year while traveling to or from the United States.

In this interview, Charles tells me about his ordeal with the United States Customs and Border Protection. He was traveling to the United States to see a friend but was stopped at the airport and searched without probable cause, or even reasonable suspicion.

Finally, CBP Agents forced him to unlock his phone so they could troll through thousands of pictures, fishing for a crime. They didn’t find a crime, but they did find a picture of Charles with marijuana from over a year prior. Based on that picture, his visa was revoked.

This is an unfortunate warning to those traveling to, or through, the United States.

For U.S. citizens, you have some recourse. At least you cannot be denied entrance over the refusal to unlock your phone. But agents can certainly make your day–or in some instances the next few years of your life–difficult.

It is hard to tell exactly how CBP will respond to a refusal of an American citizen to comply with their electronic surveillance demands. They may indefinitely confiscate your electronics. They will definitely detain and harass you for as long as possible.

But remember that you do have the right to refuse to speak with agents without a lawyer present. Make sure your phone has a passcode when traveling, and not just a thumbprint or facial recognition. Courts go back and forth on this issue. But in general, courts sometimes hold that being forced to reveal a password violates the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. But somehow they tend to rule being forced to give your thumbprint does not.

But for non-U.S. citizens, CBP encounters are something you need to prepare for, unfortunately. Delete any pictures or files which display activities that are illegal in the United States. Even consider getting a “burner” phone that you don’t mind losing. Yes, you can stand up for your rights. But you will be denied entry into the United States, and possibly have your visa revoked.

But remember, as was the case with Charles, even if you comply with Customs’ demands, there is no guarantee they won’t find some excuse to deny you.

It is easy to advise not to talk to police or any government agent, but this is much harder in the situation. When you have been placed in solitary confinement, flanked by large armed guards, threatened, and bullied, the defenses may come down, and you will just want to get out of the situation. Even remaining silent is no guarantee of safety for non-citizens. Agents can deny you access to the USA for basically any reason.

It is absurd that you should even have to consider such things. This is a testament to the growing power of the American surveillance and police state.

I’ve said in the past that I believe the due process protections allegedly protected by the Bill of Rights should be extended to everyone on American soil, not just American citizens.

As Charles pointed out, America is losing business due to this arbitrary harassment. It might be small scale now, but there is no guarantee that America stays on top forever. And if I wasn’t an American myself, I would be tempted to boycott travel to the country altogether. They don’t deserve the tourism dollars and the business of foreigners they harass.

If the government actually cares about the economy, promoting international business, and just making foreigners feel good about having ties to America, they will pull back their oppressive border tactics immediately.

You don’t have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

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dizzyfingers Fri, 05/25/2018 - 14:46 Permalink

Sorry to grouse, but "Over 30,000 people had their electronics searched" is bad sentence construction. Please proofread before hitting the send button.

Searches may have been made but did "people have it done"? I doubt it. Bad sentence construction courtesy of  the "Education Department", Jimmy Carter, and the "education" unions.

Your phone can't be searched if it isn't "smart".



44_shooter gmrpeabody Sun, 05/27/2018 - 10:26 Permalink

Fuck Charles.  In my opinion he has no rights in this country, maybe a very limited set at best.

That ‘stache screams douche bag - he should have been given the cavity search.

Here’s to the word getting out and shitbags NOT coming to “visit” (that’s code for extended past visa stay btw) the USA.


picture of weed and final destination Colorado......go figure.

In reply to by gmrpeabody

Heros neidermeyer Sat, 05/26/2018 - 10:34 Permalink

As of 2018 the ESTA (Simplified US Visa) application requires listing all social media accounts, all cell phone numbers and all email accounts.

Just one of the jokes here is that it is supposed to be a reciprocal agreement for visa-free travel to certain countries.  So a US tax donkey can enter most western countries visa free, but citizens of those countries still have to get an ESTA Visa and so also face arbitrary intrusion into their private lives.

In reply to by neidermeyer

bh2 neidermeyer Sat, 05/26/2018 - 10:59 Permalink

That is correct. You aren't legally in the US (or any other nation) until you are granted a visa. The US Constitution only provides protection of stipulated rights to non-citizens and other legal residents including visa holders.

The border of every country on earth is a boundary for both persons and goods. It isn't a portal offering guaranteed passage for either. It's a filter to assure all do not.

In reply to by neidermeyer

ebear bh2 Sat, 05/26/2018 - 11:29 Permalink

"The border of every country on earth is a boundary for both persons and goods. It isn't a portal offering guaranteed passage for either. It's a filter to assure all do not."

That being said, I've crossed many a border in my life, but the only one where I ever felt uncomfortable was the USA, and I'm a square looking Canadian white guy (not like the guy in the photo who looks like Frank Zappa's younger brother).

As much as I love the country and its people, I no longer visit the USA, nor will I fly through the USA because, unlike most nations, US airports have no transit zones for international flights.  So, for points south, it's now either Mexico City, or a direct flight.

Incidentally, our next vacation will be to Russia, and these days I'm sure if I tried to enter the USA with a Russian visa stamp in my passport, I'd end up like this guy, so one more reason not to bother.


In reply to by bh2

PrivetHedge ebear Sat, 05/26/2018 - 13:01 Permalink

Visit Taiwan on business and they smile and welcome you to the country.

If America's NSA/CIA/TSA/etc were half the organizations they boasted to be they'd know all your shit before you even arrived at the gate.

So either U.S. intelligence agencies know nothing and are a big con or the border forces enjoy harassing travellers and hence want less business and tourism for the U.S, or both.

Either way it's not a country anyone with the slightest choice should visit. Ever. Also Europe, Africa and the far east are way better in all respects.

In reply to by ebear

LikeyMikey lew1024 Sun, 05/27/2018 - 04:04 Permalink

Fair enough - So you believe that illegal immigrants and people just in the United States as Tourists have a right to buy gun under the 2nd Amendment?


I am a huge Constitutional proponent and there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says that non citizens have any rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Your question to cite the Constitution can be used both ways as proof in this case does not exist "IN the USC".

In reply to by lew1024

Dexter Morgan LikeyMikey Sun, 05/27/2018 - 10:33 Permalink

The Declaration of Independence claims that men are born with rights from God.  The Constitution doesn't provide anyone with rights, the Bill of Rights preserves the rights from God you are born with and the rest of the document sets out the duties of government.

That being said, as far as anybody working in DC goes the Constitution isn't worth the hemp paper it was written on.  However, the fact that every person on earth was born with God-given rights, particularly LIFE and LIBERTY, was not a subject up for debate in 1776 or 1789.  


In reply to by LikeyMikey

the artist LikeyMikey Sun, 05/27/2018 - 13:16 Permalink

Why shouldn't tourists be able to buy a gun? (Illegal tourists are another issue for obvious reasons) I should be able to buy a gun from a tourist. What part about "Shall not be infringed" is unclear? 

There is a long history of gun tourism here in the states. When did it become illegal in your view? Why give the Central State the power to decide who gets to import guns to the US? Can it only be done by a US citizen? 

If you are a Constitutional proponent then you should pause before making such statements. Remember that the provisions not spelled out for the Feds are reserved for the States and the People. 


In reply to by LikeyMikey

jin187 neidermeyer Sun, 05/27/2018 - 07:38 Permalink

Yeah, this article is bullshit.  By attempting to enter the US from another country, you automatically consent to any searches of your person, effects, papers, electronic records, and anything else customs can get their hands on.  Whether US citizens can be subject to this is something that's being fought over in the courts as we speak, but for foreign nationals, it is set in stone, and always has been.  This dumb fuck is lucky his friend didn't live in Iran or Saudi Arabia.  He'd probably show up with pictures of Mohammed on his phone, and end up getting 100 lashes before being thrown out.

In reply to by neidermeyer

the artist ConnectingTheDots Sun, 05/27/2018 - 12:56 Permalink

Citizens United confirms our right to free assembly. Like many freedoms it has the ability to be abused in one form or another. If you are against CU then you have not thought that through to completion. Its not perfect but the alternative is that YOU have no ability to pool your resources with others for a political message. There are simpler and more effective ways to limit lobbying. The best way is to eliminate corporate favoritism by eliminating roadblocks to small business and stop the Central State from picking winners and losers with tax and regulatory incentives. The more people work for themselves and small business the less market share is had by big corps and their power is decreased exponentially.

The last election and all future elections will reveal that the kind of corporate spending that was legend in the past is no longer effective in the face of social media. If $ ruled the day Hill would not have lost a rigged election.

Summary: Small business and free speech is the key to Liberty moving forward. 

In reply to by ConnectingTheDots