Home Criminal Defense Immigration lawyer sues over seizure of his cellphone at airport

Immigration lawyer sues over seizure of his cellphone at airport


Privacy Law

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Texas immigration lawyer Adam A. Malik has sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for seizing and retaining his iPhone when he returned to the United States from a visit to Costa Rica.

Malik’s Jan. 25 lawsuit says the federal government seized his telephone and searched the contents absent cheap suspicion that it contained contraband or proof of illegality. U.S. Customs and Border Protection didn’t acquire a warrant.

Malik alleges a violation of his expressive and associational rights under the First Amendment and his proper to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment.

Law360 has protection of the go well with, filed within the Northern District of Texas.

Malik primarily represents people in immigration and naturalization issues, together with purchasers with lawsuits in opposition to the federal government and purchasers in removing proceedings.

Malik says his telephone has privileged data contained in emails, notes, information and voicemails from greater than 2,000 purchasers. Some purchasers have “significant legal troubles,” together with one shopper accused of terrorist actions. Some have dedicated vital offenses however haven’t been charged. Some are victims of home violence.

“If clients and their lawyers believe that adversaries and the government may one day sift through their communications in searches involving unrelated matters, clients are less likely to be candid with their lawyers, and lawyers will hesitate before writing down what they need to write down,” Malik says within the lawsuit.

Malik additionally says the telephone incorporates private data, together with medical stories from physicians addressing latest medical examinations.

Agents with Customs and Border Protection seized the telephone Jan. Three on the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, regardless that Malik was authorized for membership within the CBP’s world entry trusted traveler program.

Malik was informed that he was chosen for a secondary inspection, throughout which he was requested about his private life, his mother and father and his immigration historical past, based on the go well with. Agents additionally requested about his illustration of sure purchasers and the id of sure purchasers. Malik answered the questions on his private life however not these about his purchasers.

An officer then requested Malik to unlock his iPhone to permit for an inspection of the contents. Malik stated he couldn’t consent as a result of the telephone incorporates privileged data. The officer stated he was holding the iPhone, and it will be searched.

The brokers justified the seizure primarily based on a CBP directive, the go well with says. It permits a fundamental search of the iPhone with out suspicion or a warrant. A extra higher level search—during which the machine could be linked up to exterior tools and its contents copied—is allowed with an affordable suspicion of a violation of legal guidelines administered by the CBP or when there’s a nationwide safety concern.

The directive says digital units can be returned, and any information collected can be deleted if the federal government finds no possible trigger for the seizure after a assessment of the knowledge.

The company violated the directive by looking out and reviewing personal and privileged data earlier than Malik was knowledgeable of an upcoming assessment by a filter staff, he says. As proof, he cites a request for a verification code for one among his apps.

Malik refused to determine people who can be coated by attorney-client privilege as a result of the shopper names “are connected inextricably with the privileged and confidential purpose for which the clients sought legal advice,” Malik says within the go well with.

Before turning into a lawyer, Malik labored for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Citizenship and Immigration Services.

See additionally:

ABAJournal.com: “US brief opposes lawyer who objected to border searches of his cellphone”

ABAJournal.com: “Traveling lawyers get new protections in device searches at border”

ABAJournal.com: “Forensic search of cellphone seized at border requires some type of suspicion, 4th Circuit

ABAJournal.com: “Lawyers must take reasonable steps to protect client info in US border searches, ethics opinion says”

ABAJournal.com: “Traveling out of the country? Lawyers should consider using ‘burner’ devices”


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