The U.S. Border Considered A ‘Constitution-
By Michael Snyder,
The American Dream
July 8 2013
Did you know that the U.S. government considers the U.S. border to be a “constitution-free
zone”? Did you know that customs officials can take your computer away from you, keep it for 30
days or more, and make a copy of everything that is on your hard drive? Sadly, this is actually true.
According to the government, when you choose to cross the U.S. border you temporarily give up your
constitutional rights. They can look at anything on your computer that they want to, and if they
find anything that violates any law, they can use it against you in court. You may think twice about
taking your computer out of the country after you read the rest of this article.
A lot of people think that it is the TSA that is doing this, but they are not supposed to be doing these
kinds of searches. According to the official TSA blog, only customs officials are authorized to search
laptops and other electronic devices…
Our officers might visually inspect your laptop and perform an explosives trace detection
test, but that’s it. Our officers don’t even turn computers on during inspection.
So where are the reports coming from? They’re coming from people who have had their
laptops searched by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
According to the Fourth Amendment, U.S. citizens are never supposed to be searched without probable
cause. But the U.S. government has decided to throw out the Fourth Amendment, and the courts have
gone along with it. So now customs officials can search anything that you bring across the border –
including your computer. The
following is from Wikipedia…
The United States Customs
and Border Protection
(CBP), ICE-HSI Special
Agents, and Coast Guard
officers (E4 grade and
above) who are all customs
officers (those tasked with
enforcing Title 19 of the
United States Code) with
the United States
Department of Homeland
Security, are permitted to
search travelers and their
belongings at the American
border without probable
cause or a warrant.
Pursuant to this authority,
customs officers may
generally stop and search
the property of any traveler entering or exiting the United States at random, or even based
largely on ethnic profiles.
If you get “flagged” for some reason, you are much more likely to have your computer searched.
Of course this is going to make people much more hesitant to speak out against the government and it
is going to have an incredibly chilling affect on our First Amendment rights, but that is probably what
they want anyway.
One example of an individual that was “flagged” for special treatment was described in an article by
According to a report in Sunday’s Boston Globe, the consultant – a former MIT researcher,
David House – was returning from rest and relaxation in Mexico when federal agents
seized his laptop.
According to the Globe, the government wanted to know more about House’s connections
to Bradley Manning, the US Army private accused of leaking classified information to
The seizure comes as no surprise. As Globe writer Katie Johnston notes, United States ports
of entry are dubbed “Constitution-free zones” by civil liberties advocates.
Barring invasive techniques such as strip seizures, government agents are free to disregard
Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. They don’t need
reasonable suspicion or probable cause, and they can take what they like, be it laptops or
It has been estimated that 5,000 laptops, cell phones, iPods and cameras are searched each year, but
nobody really knows.
And if they do take your computer,
you might not get it back for a very
Two years ago The Constitution
Project issued a report on the issue,
“Suspicionless Border Searches of
Electronic Devices: Legal and
Privacy Concerns with the
Department of Homeland Security’s
The group explained: Customs and
Border Protection and Immigration
and Customs Enforcement “officers
may detain electronic devices for
significant periods of time. For CBP,
detentions can be extended well beyond the minimum five-day guideline with supervisory
approval. If the device is detained by ICE, the detention can last for ‘a reasonable time,’ which
according to its Directive can last 30 days or more.” Neither agency sets any firm time limit.
Does this upset you?
When I first heard about this, I was hesitant to believe it.
It just seemed too crazy to me.
But we live in a crazy world that is rapidly getting crazier.
The U.S. government has decided that any American citizen that chooses to cross the border
temporarily gives up their constitutional rights, and the courts are going along with it.
So what should we do?
Well, number one, you might want to avoid going across the border if you can.
Secondly, you might want to consider not taking any computer with you when you do travel
internationally. Any little thing that they find can be used to put you away behind bars.
We are very quickly being transformed into a “Big Brother” society, and our rights are constantly being
eroded. Hopefully the American people will begin to stand up and say something about these issues,
because if they don’t eventually we won’t have any privacy left at all.
BECAUSE THERE'S A WAR ON FOR YOUR