S.D.Fla.: Consent to giving up passwords at border irrelevant since CBP can search anyway

In a border search case, defendant’s consent to produce his passwords doesn’t matter because the government has the authority to conduct a search of incoming electronic equipment. United States v. Vallerius, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85620 (S.D. Fla. May 1, 2018):

Based on Irving, and in light of the Government’s interest in controlling the nation’s borders, it stands to reason that a search of an individual’s belongings at an airport is unaffected by the fact that the search is prompted by other law enforcement agents or an investigative motive. See generally United States v. Schoor, 597 F.2d 1303, 1306 (9th Cir. 1979) (Kennedy, J.) (“That the search was made at the request of the DEA officers does not detract from its legitimacy. Suspicion of customs officials is alone sufficient justification for a border search[, and] [t]he source of that suspicion is irrelevant in sustaining the search.”) (citations omitted); United States v. Levy, 803 F.3d 120, 123 (2d Cir. 2015) (“We also conclude that the CBP officer was entitled to rely on information provided by the DEA task force to justify the border search in this case…Whether a Customs official’s reasonable suspicion arises entirely from her own investigation or is prompted by another federal agency is irrelevant to the validity of a border search[.]”). It would not make sense for us to allow any passenger to be searched at the border without reasonable suspicion, but to make exceptions for those suspected of criminal activity prior to their arrival into the United States. As such, the subjective intent of what officers hoped to gain by conducting the search does not make a difference. Irving, 452 F.3d at 123 (“As pretext should not determine the validity of a border search, it also should not determine whether a border search is routine (meaning it does not require reasonable suspicion).”).

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