The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has labeled the zone one hundred miles for the edge of our nation’s border a “Constitution free” zone. The Department of Homeland Security considered this area to be a “reasonable distance” from the border and in that area they apparently have the right to perform searches without warrants, probable cause, reasonable suspicion, and without any stated justification whatsoever, under the border search exception.
The ACLU wants a reasonable suspicion standard to apply to border searches…which would in turn allow agents with articulable suspicion of terrorism or other illegal activities to investigate, while protecting the dignity and rights of citizens. The DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil liberties approved the suspicionless searches, stating that “imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits.”
A way to help combat these searches and seizures would be to reintroduce the Travelers’ Privacy Protection Act of 2008, which would have required reasonable suspicion to seize and search travelers’ electronic devices. This proposed bill failed and died at the expiration of the 110th Congress.