ACLU sues Homeland Security, Customs over ID check on domestic flight

The Hill 5 days ago

These are customs agents forcibly checking the ID of every passenger deplaning from Delta flight 1583 tonight at JFK. A domestic flight. pic.twitter.com/fHMgyzCjo5

— Britton Taylor (@brittontaylor) February 23, 2017

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on behalf of nine Delta Airline passengers who were forced to provide identification before de-boarding a domestic flight from San Francisco to New York.

The lawsuit ACLU and Covington & Burling LLP filed Thursday claims the passengers of Flight 1583, which arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport on February 22, were prevented from leaving the plan until they produced identification. 

“Two uniformed CBP officers positioned themselves at the doorway of the airplane, forcing passengers to queue inside and delaying their exit as the CBP officers stopped each passenger, took their identification documents, examined them, and only then permitted them to pass,” ACLU said in the 21-page complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

The officers allegedly did not ask for the passengers’ consent. 

ACLU argues that the officers, acting at the request of U.S. Immigration and

Customs Enforcement, violated the passenger’s rights against unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

“The officers did not have any legal justification for seizing and searching these passengers,” ACLU Deputy Legal Director Cecillia Wang said in a statement.

“This is a serious and illegal erosion of our basic civil liberties. Because CBP publicly took the position that this action was pursuant to policy and a ‘routine’ matter, we are compelled to take action to ensure that this doesn’t happen to passengers on future flights.”

The group is asking the court to issue a permanent injunction to stop the agencies and their officers from “seizing and conducting warrantless and/or suspicionless identification checks of passengers disembarking from domestic flights.”


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