Let Me See Your Phone: The U.S. Should Follow the U.K. In Allowing Border Agents to Search Electronic Devices at U.S. Borders

By: Aldina Kahari

I. Introduction

On average, approximately one million people cross the Mexico-U.S. border in each direction every day.[1] Of those crossings, only a handful occur illegally.[2] In 2017, there were almost 77 million international arrivals into the U.S., including arrivals from Mexico and Canada.[3] As our use of technology is ever-increasing, the amount of electronic devices that travelers bring along with them is increasing along with it.[4] In 2017, border agents at the U.S. border and at airports searched nearly 30,200 cellphones, computers, and other electronic devices of travelers entering and exiting the United States.[5] These numbers are an almost sixty percent increase from 2016.[6] With the growth in the use of portable technology such as cellphones and laptops, there remain many unanswered questions as to how and when searches of electronic devices can be conducted at our nation’s borders.[7]

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