Random checks at immigration for Muslims in America returning from other countries

As-Salaamu’Alaikum Wa-Rahmatullaahi Wa-Barakaatuh!

Dear Readers,

Topic of Discussion:

Muslims in America are now being forced to go through random immigration checks. There have been several reports on individuals traveling to US subjected to random checks at the borders. The random checks have been there for a while now. But the added check is request of social media and email account passwords by the border officers. The checks can take several hours and there can be denial of entry at the end for non-citizens.

 

Backdrop:

The above started On January 27, 2017, When US president Trump signed an executive order (Number 13769) against Muslims in America, titled “Protecting the Nation From Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals”, that suspended entry for citizens of seven countries for 90 days: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, totaling more than 134 million people. The order also stopped the admission of refugees of the Syrian Civil War indefinitely, and the entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days. Refugees who were on their way to the United States when the order was signed were stopped and detained at airports. Many legal challenges to the order were brought immediately after its issuance: from January 28 to January 31, almost 50 cases were filed in federal courts.
In order to help Muslims in America who are getting affected by this policy, please take part in this discussion by leaving your comments below in order to share your views, experiences, tips and whatever that can make things easy for all.
 
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22 comments

  1. What about Muslim US citizens (naturalized) living overseas and coming back for vacation/short visit, for instance.
    Also if those muslims are wearing hijab/niqab, long beards…

    Any reports of abnormal checks?

  2. Do you guys not read the news?

    There have been numerous such cases. Be prepared for the worst.

    Best thing you can do is to take a blank phone / laptop. Download your info when you get to the other side. Border peeps will copy everything or confiscate your device if they feel like it.

  3. Best thing you can do is to is not go………… unfortunately that is not the case for some brothers………

  4. As a US citizen, you must be allowed to enter the country.
    this is a good article in the NYT about what they can and can not check

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/business/border-enforcement-airport-phones.html

  5. Brothers, I live in Montreal not so far US -Canada border.
    Horrible and shameful what’s going on there.

    My advice to Muslims travelling to US, please do NOT take your mobile and your computer with you.

    This is not a joke.
    Make du’a

  6. https: //cdt. org/insight/no-to-dhs-social-media-password-requirement/

  7. yes, you can fight it on the the plane journey ‘back home’. Reality is that you shouldn’t take any electronic devices with you which have sensitive data on them.

    Best is to store everything in the cloud and then sync up when you’re on the other side. Online storage is cheap and makes perfect sense to avoid this kind of intrusiveness

    Stay safe & if you’re american – Canada is still taking in immigrants!

    Wa salaam

  8. Rather than joke about other brothers trials, make dua for them and be grateful to Allah it’s not you or your family being tested with such an affliction.

  9. You never know what might be considered in the wrong way I receive so much garbage I don’t know when and where it came from – best to just have different handsets or revert to the old Nokia 6210’s

  10. I want to share this.

    Questions to expect from US agent.

    What is your email address?
    What is your Facebook account?
    Which Masjid you pray to ?
    Are you seating close to the imam ?
    What do you think about all the “craps” happening now?
    Many sensitives questions … etc…

    Be ready

    Read this article and watch the video.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/canadian-woman-turned-away-from-u-s-border-after-questions-about-religion-trump-1.3972019

  11. As received:

    A thorough guide to personal operational security when crossing a border, covering everything suggested in this thread and then some, can be found here:
    https: //www.zdziarski. com/blog/?p=6918

    Wired have a shorter and somewhat less technical version of the article here:
    https://www.wired.com/2017/02/guide-getting-past-customs-digital-privacy-intact/

    .. and after reading that you might indeed feel exhausted and figuring out how to never have to cross any border anywhere ever again.

    Internet Society joined with 50 other organizations to issue a joint statement expressing concerns about a proposal to require disclosure of social media account passwords as a condition of entry to the U.S.:

    https://cdt.org/insight/no-to-dhs-social-media-password-requirement/

  12. At what point do they take your device? At customs or immigration/border control?

  13. They take your device at border patrol….and by the way these random checks have been going on since 9/11…
    I have been a victim of it numerous times…I would say that I have been pulled in at least 100 times, since I lived close to US border city of Detroit…they have been taking people’s cell phone for the past three years…this is nothing new…they took one brother’s phone and held it for a week…imagine that…a week…never mind that that he needed a phone or whatever…they told him to come back and pick up the phone and he had to sign a waiver that they were not responsible for any damage to the phone…
    so this baloney that stuff changed with trump…well, yes it is a bit harder…but it has been going on…and those who travel across frequently, they can tell you how it is…
    we had brothers who worked in Detroit…they had to “check-in” and “check out” at the border every day with Customs and Border Patrol…checking in meant being fingerprinted and searched…and checking out meant walking in and letting them know u r leaving the country…of course this was the infamous NSEERS program…National Security Entry-Exit Registration System…
    oh and sometimes, you see familiar faces inside when u get pulled in…brothers from the masjid who work in US or the ones who studied there like I was…or generally u see Arabs and Southeast Asians, mostly Pakistanis etc….
    and of course the questions…which mosque you go to…ever been to Yemen or Afghanistan (this was back in early to mid 2000s)…any military training…where were u born…etc…meanwhile, African American folks who are coming back to US from Canada would get questions like…how much money u carrying…any drugs…or guns…
    stereotypical questions…i mean it was farcical…one black dude even said to me..”damn dude, i dunno who got it worse, black or Moslems”…*:) happy
    but alhamdulillah in all…it was an experience…still is…lol…
    you gotta keep ur dignity…be respectful…cordial…truthful…and more often than not, they will too..
    we have to accept…it has become a part of life as a Muslim…not just in USA but in many other places in the world…
    and lastly, when i say be dignified…many a times, I had to pray salah inside the CBP offices since it took longer and I would tell them that I needed to pray and they respected that…I think I prayed all the prayers there over the years…lol…

    anyways…just telling u from my experience…

  14. @faisal ghouse: the worst border to cross from Canada is Windsor – Detroit. The agents have no mercy according to brothers experience. They hired some Arabs Bros and Asian Bros to make the dirty job instead.

    My policy is, don’t travel there if not really necessary.

  15. May Allaah make things easy for the brothers who have to go America.

    I hope they don’t start this is England… but the way things are going who knows.

    The worry is that they might put something on your phone to monitor you and/or incriminate you at some future date.

    Nas’alAllaahal’aafiyah wasSalaamah

  16. Guys, its better to have all your devices powered off and encrypted when you are entering US.

    Encryption alone won’t get you to “can’t”, but it is a good starting point. You could of course have someone else set a password for you but there’s very little benefit to this strategy.

    There are plenty of ways to access content on devices (even locked ones) if the encryption is already unlocked in memory. This is kind of a given, but I felt the need to mention it anyway. Encryption only gets you to “won’t”, of course, which is why i am not mentioning it here.

    Protecting corporate secrets, however, might get you some mileage if it a company owned device.

  17. The funniest part of the entire issues is this:

    A typical terrorist recruit nowadays is young and relatively tech savvy… probably speaks another language other than English or Arabic (especially if they’re European).

    You don’t think they’d know every trick in the book to keep their phones and laptops “clean” when trying to enter the USA? At the very least they’d just avoid English or Arabic for their digital communications. Or maybe even use code words if they’re using English. Do you really expect to find text conversations like “Place the bomb in the mailbox at 123 Something Street tomorrow” or “Pick up the guns tonight and let’s kill some infidels”?

    Seriously, this goes all the way back to the Cold War, when the Soviets would communicate in code words so that any intercepted communications would just be plain gibberish.

    If you think searching electronic devices at ports of entry will help stop terrorism, you’re retarded.

  18. what happens if you have no social media presence? loollllll. Stop panicking muslims. they do this always. we always had a funny president now and then, so just enjoy the stunts.

    How are they going to extremely vet something that doesn’t even exist? Not everyone is in need of a social media account. Will not having social media presence or accounts be treated as suspicious now? Or does everyone need to start cultivating double profiles (sanitized account and real account).. Also there are social media networks you dont have to use your real identity, with the declining utility of existing services like facebook and more moves like this I’m sure alternative services will eventually replace it, most dont even use the FB crap.. Facebook for me really was only useful in college 12 years ago when cell phones werent in every single persons hands and IM and FB messenger were the best way to stay in touch. Im sure there are also a good deal of people that may have had an account setup but havent used it for years and wouldnt even remember their password so theirs that too..

    enjoy.

  19. Assalam, great discussion going on here and very beneficial too.

    Its much better to simply do a factory reset on your phone before entering US Customs, then restore your data once you’ve entered!

    But having nothing on your phone might raise eyebrows as this is not possible for a normal human being.

    Carrying a phone that hasn’t been set up might make US Border guards assume you are deliberately hiding something.

    so watch out this!

  20. Assalam,

    some of you are talking about misleading or lying or cooking up a story to tell to the customs officer. I never recommend lying to a border agent, no matter what country you’re in. Misdirection is also a far better alternative to securing your data. If you set up your security so that you cannot access what they need yourself, this in my opinion is far better than simply telling someone that you don’t have a social media account. Everything that you say and do may end up in a file on you for next time you pass through the border, and if you’re found to be lying, you’ll be denied entry.

    Setting up false personas is one possibility, however many future forms are likely to ask you for all of your accounts, rather than one of them, just like they do personal aliases. Maintaining false personas is not hard to do, but unless you’ve masked your identity online for the past few decades, likely isn’t going to get far – especially if you’re verified on Twitter or use your real name on Facebook; two great ways to give up plausible deniability. Multiple personas may make it easier to disappear into obscurity than false personas; multiple accounts all using your name presents the illusion of name collisions, but even when that’s impossible, it’s easy to justify no longer having access to old accounts, or creating new accounts when old ones are hacked, etc.

    Get your method down before you leave home. “My Twitter account only works from my home computer” is an honest and accurate response, and much better than getting caught in a lie later on about not having a social media account. Remember, many countries have access to open source social intelligence and already know the answers to some of the questions they ask you.

    stay safe all!

  21. One of my friend who went through all this multiple times recently as he travels for business gave these pointers:

    – don’t bring anything digital across except a basic mobile phone with basic contacts (mom, dad, siblings, a few friends, etc) and a standard email address and semi-dummy Facebook account

    – buy a brand new computer (a cheap Chromebook will do) with cash once you’re through the border agency. Yes, that’s expensive, but resell it at a loss when you get back or in country or just burn it. I’d go with burn it.

    – create a plaintext readable cipher on paper with a pen and/or pencil, since border agents are much less likely to check physical documents and/or they might not have authority to do so (or can’t read English)

    – encode accounts and passwords in the readable cipher

  22. Everyone suggest not to unlock phones or allow them to access your passwords. But can’t they force?

    They can ask you to comply voluntarily and make the experience rather uncomfortable if you resist. One Must make up his mind as to how much trouble he willing to put up with.

    You may end up losing your device, since agents could seize the device for weeks before it is returned. They could also copy the data. (That data must be destroyed “as expeditiously as possible” if it is not valuable, according to Homeland Security policy.)

    Travelers have reported that they’ve been detained for hours and questioned aggressively.Like one american citizen who is from Saudi origin, whose trip included a pilgrimage to Mecca after an 18-hour layover in Istanbul, said his payment for his Turkish Airlines flight was not refunded after he missed it.

    So much for land of freedom! Hypocrisy to its core!!

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