The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of three Muslim American citizens who said they were unconstitutionally questioned about their religion at the border.
“How often do you pray?” was one of the questions listed by the plaintiffs according to the lawsuit. “Do you attend mosque?,” “Which mosque do you attend?,” and “Are you Sunni or Shi’a?” were some of the other questions plaintiffs said they were asked about their faith.
The plaintiffs said they were subjected to these “deeply personal and religiously intrusive questions” by Customs and Border Protection officers on multiple occasions when returning home to the US from international travel.
“Religious questioning such as this violates the U.S. Constitution,” said the ACLU in the suit. “It furthers no valid—let alone compelling—government interest, and it is an affront to the First Amendment freedoms of religion and association.”
The lawsuit says the defendants were specifically targeted because they were Muslim Americans, which violates the First and Fifth Amendments regarding protections against unequal treatment on the basis of religion.
“Just as border officers may not single out Christian Americans to ask what denomination they are, which church they attend, and how regularly they pray, singling out Muslim Americans for similar questions is unconstitutional,” the suit continued.
“By targeting Plaintiffs for religious questioning merely because they are Muslim, Defendants’ border officers stigmatize them for adhering to a particular faith and condemn their religion as subject to suspicion and distrust.”
The lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of plaintiffs Abdirahman Aden Kariye, Mohamad Mouslli and Hameem Shah asks the court to declare that this type of religious questioning violates the Constitution, claiming it is “part of a broader 20-year practice of border officials targeting Muslim American travelers.”
The ACLU is also seeking an injunction to stop the DHS and CBP from questioning plaintiffs about their faith at the borders and requests all recordings of their questions to be deleted./aa