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Customs Officers Can Check Your Phone and Social Media Accounts At The Border

Be Alert: Customs Officers Can Check Your Phone and Social Media Accounts At The Border

Border authorities don’t need a warrant to search your phone and other devices. U.S. immigration officers have the authority to search travelers’ luggage and belongings when they enter the United States including cellphones, laptop computers and tablets. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers are authorized to inspect any non-citizen’s cell phone and social media accounts to look for evidence of unauthorized work, marriage fraud and other immigration violations to find proof of immigration fraud and fitness of moral character. The Customs Officer can review your social media, texts, voice mails, photos and any other digital data stored on your cellphone. The “Protecting Data At the Border Act” was introduced in 2017, and in February 2021, the First Circuit Court of Appeals approved the policies that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers follow.

U.S. Customs has the right to inspect the belongings of both citizens and non-citizens. If you are a U.S. citizen, you can deny immigration authorities the right to inspect your devices, and you’ll probably be allowed to enter the country – but U.S. Customs may detain your devices. If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and you deny immigration officials access to your phone, you will probably be refused entry to the United States. According to an article in the Washington Post,

“Data copied from devices at entry points into the United States — including airports and border crossings — gets saved for 15 years in a database searchable by thousands of CBP employees without a warrant.” 

Privacy Protection Tips for International Travelers

Immigration lawyer Mario Godoy recommends the following data privacy protection tips for all immigrants traveling internationally:

  • Travel with fewer devices when possible.
  • Consider having a separate cell phone you only use for cross border travel.
  • Set passwords for all of your electronic devices and individual programs and sensitive files.
  • Encrypt all sensitive files or your entire device.
  • Sign out of sensitive applications and disconnect from the internet before arriving at the border.
  • Set your devices to airplane mode.
  • Learn your rights before leaving the United States and the rights you have in any foreign country you are visiting.

Know Your Rights: Immigrants Have Rights!

Take control of your immigration situation and protect your rights! Don’t navigate the complex legal landscape alone. Consult immigration attorney Mario Godoy today and ensure that you have a dedicated advocate by your side. With his expertise and experience, Mario Godoy will provide you with the guidance and support you need to make informed decisions and secure the best possible outcome for your case. Don’t delay—schedule a consultation with Mario Godoy now and take the first step towards protecting your future. Contact the immigration attorneys at Godoy Law Office at  630-345-4164.

AREAS WE SERVE: Godoy Law Office Immigration Lawyers help clients in all 50 states.

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