NEW YORK (CN) – The U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection did not violate the rights of U.S. Muslims who attended an Islamic holiday conference in Canada by treating them as suspected terrorists and screening them at the U.S. border, the Second Circuit ruled.
Customs officials received intelligence in December 2004 that Muslims with terrorist ties would be attending certain year-end conferences, including the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference at the Skydome in Toronto. Based on that information, customs officials detained, questioned, patted down, fingerprinted and photographed anyone returning to the United States from the conference, subjecting them to “the kind of screening procedure normally reserved for terrorists,” the ruling states.
Five of them were U.S. citizens and practicing Muslims with no criminal records and no known association with terrorists. They claimed the searches violated the Administrative Procedure Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and their First and Fourth Amendment rights.
The circuit affirmed summary judgment for the government on the basis that “(a) CBP had statutory authority for its actions and thus did not violate the Administrative Procedures Act; (b) the searches, which took place at the border, where the government has plenary authority to control entry into the United States, were not so invasive of plaintiffs’ privacy as to violate the Fourth Amendment; and, (c) given the intelligence CBP received, the inspection policy was narrowly tailored to achieve the compelling governmental interest in preventing potential terrorists from entering the United States.” See ruling.