Alasaad v. Mayorkas, Nos. 20-1077

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
Writing for the CourtLYNCH, Circuit Judge.
Citation988 F.3d 8
Parties Ghassan ALASAAD; Nadia Alasaad; Suhaib Allababidi; Sidd Bikkannavar; Jeremie Dupin; Aaron Gach; Ismail Abdel-Rasoul, a/k/a Isma'il Kushkush; Diane Maye Zorri; Zainab Merchant; Mohammed Akram Shibly; Matthew Wright, Plaintiffs, Appellees/Cross-Appellants, v. Alejandro MAYORKAS, Secretary of The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in his official capacity; Troy Miller, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in his official capacity; Tae D. Johnson, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in his official capacity, Defendants, Appellants/Cross-Appellees.
Decision Date09 February 2021
Docket Number20-1081,Nos. 20-1077

988 F.3d 8

Ghassan ALASAAD; Nadia Alasaad; Suhaib Allababidi; Sidd Bikkannavar; Jeremie Dupin; Aaron Gach; Ismail Abdel-Rasoul, a/k/a Isma'il Kushkush; Diane Maye Zorri; Zainab Merchant; Mohammed Akram Shibly; Matthew Wright, Plaintiffs, Appellees/Cross-Appellants,
v.
Alejandro MAYORKAS, Secretary of The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in his official capacity;* Troy Miller, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in his official capacity;** Tae D. Johnson, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in his official capacity,*** Defendants, Appellants/Cross-Appellees.

Nos. 20-1077
20-1081

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.

February 9, 2021


Joshua Paul Waldman, Appellate Staff, Civil Division U.S. Department of Justice, with whom Joseph H. Hunt, Assistant Attorney General, Scott R. McIntosh, Appellate Staff, Civil Division U.S. Department of Justice, and Andrew E. Lelling, United States Attorney, were on briefs, for appellants/cross-appellees.

Esha Bhandari, with whom Adam Schwartz, Sophia Cope, Saira Hussain, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Hugh Handeyside, Seattle, WA, Nathan Freed Wessler, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Matthew R. Segal, Jessie J. Rossman, and American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Massachusetts, Inc. were on briefs, for appellees/cross-appellants.

Caroline M. DeCell, Stephanie Krent, Bruce D. Brown, Katie Townsend, Gabriel Rottman, Caitlin Vogus, and Linda Moon, Huntington Beach, CA, on brief for the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and 12 Media Organizations, amici curiae.

Kurt Wimmer, Rafael Reyneri, Washington, DC, Calvin Cohen, Chicago, IL, Frank Broomell, and Covington & Burling LLP on brief for the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Brennan Center for Justice, R Street Institute, and Techfreedom, amici curiae.

Michael J. Iacopino, Manchester, NH, Michael Price, and Mukund Rathi on brief for National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, amicus curiae.

Christopher T. Bavitz and Cyberlaw Clinic, Harvard Law School, on brief for Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic, amicus curiae.

Meghan Koushik, New York, NY, Mark C. Fleming, Boston, MA, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Glenn Katon, Oakland, CA, and Hammad Alam on brief for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Law Caucus, et al., amici curiae.

Elizabeth B. Wydra, San Francisco, CA, Brianne J. Gorod, Brian R. Frazelle, and Dayna J. Zolle on brief for Constitutional Accountability Center, amicus curiae.

Jennifer Pinsof, David A. Schulz, New York, NY, Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic, Yale Law School Abrams Institute, Elizabeth A. Ritvo, Joshua P. Dunn, Boston, MA, and Brown Rudnick LLP on brief for Floyd Abrams, New York, NY, Jack M. Balkin, Hannah Bloch-Webah, Kiel Brennan-Marquez, Ryan Calo, Danielle Keats Citron, Julie E. Cohen, New York, NY, Catherine Crump, Mary Anne Franks, Woodrow Hartzog, Heidi Kitrosser, Gregory Magarian, Neil M. Richards, Scott Skinner-Thompson, Daniel J. Solove, Amie Stepanovich, Katherine J. Strandburg, Chicago, IL, and Ari Ezra Waldman, amici curiae.

Before Lynch and Selya, Circuit Judges, and Laplante,**** District Judge.

LYNCH, Circuit Judge.

988 F.3d 12

Plaintiffs bring a civil action seeking to enjoin current policies which govern searches of electronic devices at this country's borders. They argue that these border search policies violate the Fourth and First Amendments both facially and as applied. The policies each allow border agents to perform "basic" searches of electronic devices without reasonable suspicion and "advanced" searches only with reasonable suspicion. In these cross-appeals we conclude that the challenged border search policies, both on their face and as applied to the two plaintiffs who were subject to these policies, are within permissible constitutional grounds. We find no violations of either the Fourth Amendment or the

988 F.3d 13

First Amendment. While this court apparently is the first circuit court to address these questions in a civil action, several of our sister circuits have addressed similar questions in criminal proceedings prosecuted by the United States. We join the Eleventh Circuit in holding that advanced searches of electronic devices at the border do not require a warrant or probable cause. United States v. Vergara, 884 F.3d 1309, 1311-12 (11th Cir. 2018). We also join the Ninth and Eleventh Circuits in holding that basic border searches of electronic devices are routine searches that may be performed without reasonable suspicion. United States v. Cano, 934 F.3d 1002, 1016 (9th Cir. 2019), petition for cert. filed (Jan. 29, 2021) (No. 20-1043); United States v. Touset, 890 F.3d 1227, 1233 (11th Cir. 2018). We also hold the district court erroneously narrowed the scope of permissible searches of such equipment at the border.1

I. Facts

The material facts are not in dispute. We supplement our description of the facts with the district court's comprehensive statement of facts. Alasaad v. Nielsen, 419 F. Supp. 3d 142, 148-50 (D. Mass. 2019) ; Alasaad v. Nielsen, No. 17-cv-11730-DJC, 2018 WL 2170323 at *1-2 (D. Mass. May 9, 2018).

A. Agency Policies

Two policies promulgated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") are at issue in this case.

The first policy is CBP Directive No. 3340-049A, Border Search of Electronic Devices (2018), https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2018-Jan/CBP-Directive-3340-049A-Border-Search-of-Electronic-Media-Compliant.pdf (the "CBP Policy"). The CBP Policy "provide[s] guidance and standard operating procedures for searching, reviewing, retaining, and sharing information contained in ... mobile phones ... and any other communication, electronic, or digital devices ... to ensure compliance with customs, immigration, and other laws that CBP is authorized to enforce and administer." CBP Policy at 1.2 The CBP Policy defines an "electronic device" as "[a]ny device that may contain information in an electronic or digital form, such as computers, tablets, disks, drives, tapes, mobile phones and other communication devices, cameras, music and other media players." Id. at 2. The CBP Policy does not address CBP's authority to search electronic devices with a warrant, consent, or in response to exigent circumstances. Id.

The CBP Policy distinguishes between "basic" and "advanced" searches.3 It defines an "advanced search" as "any search in which an Officer connects external equipment, through a wired or wireless connection, to an electronic device not merely to gain access to the device, but to review, copy, and/or analyze its contents." Id. at 5. Advanced searches require "supervisory approval" and under the CBP Policy may only be performed "[i]n instances in which there is reasonable suspicion of activity in violation of the laws enforced or administered by CBP, or in which there is a national security concern." Id. A "basic search" is any non-advanced search. Id. at 4. The CBP Policy states that a basic search may be performed "with or without suspicion." Id.

988 F.3d 14

For both basic and advanced searches, the CBP Policy only allows officers to search "information that is resident upon the device," and devices must be disconnected from the internet before a search is performed. Id.

In addition, the CBP Policy states that "[a]n Officer may detain electronic devices ... for a brief, reasonable period of time to perform a thorough border search." Id. at 7.

The second policy is Immigration and Customs Enforcement Directive No. 7-6.1, Border Searches of Electronic Devices (2009), https://hdhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/ice_border_search_electronic_devices.pdf, ("ICE Directive") as superseded in part by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Broadcast: Legal Update -- Border Search of Electronic Devices (2018) ("ICE Broadcast"), (together "ICE Policy" and, together with the CBP Policy, the "Policies"). The ICE Policy governs ICE's searches of electronic devices at the border "to ensure compliance with customs, immigration, and other laws enforced by ICE." ICE Directive at 1. The policy defines an "electronic device" as "any item that may contain information, such as computers, disks, drives, tapes, mobile phones and other communication devices, cameras, music players, and any other electronic or digital devices." ICE Directive at 2. The policy allows for suspicionless basic searches but states that as of May 11, 2018, ICE agents "should no longer perform advanced border searches of electronic devices without reasonable suspicion." ICE Broadcast. The ICE Policy also allows agents to detain electronic devices for a "reasonable time given the facts and circumstances of the particular search." ICE Directive at 4.

Plaintiffs do not argue there are any meaningful differences between the two agencies' policies.

B. The Searches of Plaintiffs' Electronic Devices

Plaintiffs are ten U.S. citizens and one lawful permanent resident. Each states that CBP or ICE...

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16 practice notes
  • Diaz Ortiz v. Garland, 19-1620
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • January 10, 2022
    ...not find the explanation credible. And nothing in the record would compel the IJ to accept the petitioner's lies.37 See Zaruma-Guaman, 988 F.3d at 8 ("[I]t is the purview of the IJ, within wide limits, to accept or reject an explanation for demonstrated testimonial inconsistencies.").38 IV.......
  • United States v. Kamaldoss, 19-CR-543 (ARR)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • April 22, 2022
    ...electronic devices should be limited to searches for digital contraband. Indeed, just last year, the First Circuit in Alasaad v. Mayorkas, 988 F.3d 8 (1st Cir. 2021), rejected the distinction between searches for contraband and searches for evidence of contraband, holding that the “search[]......
  • Bradford v. Naples Causeway Dev., 2:21-cv-00015-NT
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Court (Maine)
    • May 16, 2022
    ...and “determine whether either of the parties deserves judgment as a matter of law on facts that are not disputed, ” Alasaad v. Mayorkas, 988 F.3d 8, 16 (1st Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. Merchant v. Mayorkas, 141 S.Ct. 2858 (2021) (citation omitted). DISCUSSION Before I conduct any analysis ......
  • Sanchez-Vasquez v. Garland, No. 20-1661
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
    • April 7, 2021
    ...waived." Zannino, 895 F.2d at 17. This doctrine is fully applicable in the immigration context, see, 994 F.3d 49 e.g., Zaruma-Guaman, 988 F.3d at 8 ; Olmos-Colaj v. Sessions, 886 F.3d 168, 176 (1st Cir. 2018) ; Ahmed, 611 F.3d at 98, and this case falls squarely within the heartland of the ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Diaz Ortiz v. Garland, 19-1620
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • January 10, 2022
    ...not find the explanation credible. And nothing in the record would compel the IJ to accept the petitioner's lies.37 See Zaruma-Guaman, 988 F.3d at 8 ("[I]t is the purview of the IJ, within wide limits, to accept or reject an explanation for demonstrated testimonial inconsistencies.&quo......
  • United States v. Kamaldoss, 19-CR-543 (ARR)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • April 22, 2022
    ...electronic devices should be limited to searches for digital contraband. Indeed, just last year, the First Circuit in Alasaad v. Mayorkas, 988 F.3d 8 (1st Cir. 2021), rejected the distinction between searches for contraband and searches for evidence of contraband, holding that the “search[]......
  • Bradford v. Naples Causeway Dev., 2:21-cv-00015-NT
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Court (Maine)
    • May 16, 2022
    ...and “determine whether either of the parties deserves judgment as a matter of law on facts that are not disputed, ” Alasaad v. Mayorkas, 988 F.3d 8, 16 (1st Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. Merchant v. Mayorkas, 141 S.Ct. 2858 (2021) (citation omitted). DISCUSSION Before I conduct any analysis ......
  • Sanchez-Vasquez v. Garland, No. 20-1661
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
    • April 7, 2021
    ...Zannino, 895 F.2d at 17. This doctrine is fully applicable in the immigration context, see, 994 F.3d 49 e.g., Zaruma-Guaman, 988 F.3d at 8 ; Olmos-Colaj v. Sessions, 886 F.3d 168, 176 (1st Cir. 2018) ; Ahmed, 611 F.3d at 98, and this case falls squarely within the heartland of the doctrine.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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