On March 24, 2022, the ACLU, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, and ACLU of Minnesota filed a lawsuit on behalf of three Muslim Americans, Abdirahman Aden Kariye, Mohamad Mouslli, and Hameem Shah, who have all been subjected to intrusive questioning from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) officials about their religious beliefs, practices, and associations in violation of their First and Fifth Amendment rights. On multiple occasions when the three Plaintiffs returned home from abroad, these border officers asked them inappropriate religious questions, including whether they are Muslim, whether they attend a mosque, which mosque they attend, whether they are Sunni or Shi’a, and how often they pray. Border officers then retain the answers in a law enforcement database for up to 75 years.
In the lawsuit, Plaintiffs argue that this questioning by both CBP and HSI violates their First Amendment freedoms of religion and association, as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In addition, because CBP and HSI specifically single out Muslim Americans for this questioning, the lawsuit alleges violations of the First and Fifth Amendments’ protections against unequal treatment on the basis of religion. Plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that border officers’ religious questioning violates the Constitution and RFRA, as well as an injunction barring CBP and HSI from questioning about their faith at ports of entry. The suit also seeks expungement of records reflecting information that border officers obtained about Plaintiffs through their unlawful questioning.
Counsel: ACLU Foundation of Southern California; ACLU Foundation; American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota
Mohammad Tajsar, ACLU Foundation of Southern California | firstname.lastname@example.org