Border Searches

Frequently Asked Questions on Border Inspection

The AAUP's legal department has developed a list of responses to frequently asked questions regarding inspections of electronic devices by US border patrol officers. The purpose of the document is to educate faculty about their rights and obligations when traveling abroad. The US Supreme Court has held that inspections at US borders fall under the so-called "border search exception" to the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, which forbids “unreasonable searches and seizures” by the government. The FAQs offer practical guidance for citizens and non-citizens about compliance and the risks of non-compliance. Please note that the document provides general information, and you should consult an attorney if you have questions about a specific legal situation. 

Because the AAUP is concerned about the chilling effect of such searches on academic freedom, we are working with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University to collect information from any faculty members who have had their cell phones or other electronic devices searched by US border patrol officers while traveling internationally. Learn more and find out about how to submit information here.