WASHINGTON, August 9, 2012 (WAFA) – Arab Americans have complained of an alarming rise in travel-related harassment and ban, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC).
ADC “has experienced an alarming increase in the number of intakes pertaining to “no-fly” list and travel-related matters,” it said, explaining that it is representing a number of US citizens of Arab descent who are currently banned from returning home after international travel.
“The cases include matters involving undue delays upon entry, and intrusive/unconstitutional questioning by officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA),” said the statement.
Examples of the fact patterns found in the cases currently being addressed by ADC include:
An Arab American male, who is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, is being denied the right to fly back to the US from Lebanon. The man, who is a US citizen, suffers from multiple medical issues and depends on the support of his immediate family for normal daily activities, such as using the restroom, eating, and cleansing himself. The failure of the US Government in allowing one of its own citizens to return home is not only unconscionable and unconstitutional; in this case it also has an impact on the citizen’s health and well-being.
A 17 year old Arab American male from South Florida who was interrogated for nearly 5 hours by CBP agents. During the questioning he was asked questions such as, “Are you Muslim?” “Do you go to the Mosque?” The officers asked for the traveler’s cell phone, and upon receiving the cell phone they proceeded to download all content and data off of the device.
A distinguished medical professional, also from South Florida, that faced an intrusive and extensive interrogation upon returning from international business travel. He was asked about his religion and political views. Officers requested his cell phone and laptop and proceeded to download all the information/content off the phone --- despite the doctor’s plea not to copy the information as the devices contained confidential and private data for hundreds of patients.
ADC said it has also contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of State in an attempt to resolve these matters.
It said that in the event the matters are not resolved, “ADC will proceed with appropriate and necessary legal action to ensure the issues are immediately resolved and the rights of the community are protected.”