Behind the Headlines: Border Seizures
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 said it can do this in the name of national security.
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.
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.