ACLU

Flying the not-so-friendly skies

Email sent: Aug 22, 2018 12:18 pm

Is this your brand on Milled? You can claim it.

ACLU

Hi Aclu Supporter

When Customs and Border Protection agents pulled Zainab Merchant aside for extra screening in her hometown airport, they told her: "When you fly, you sign off all your rights. Do what you want, get a lawyer, get the courts involved but you'll never be able to get off."

A Muslim woman who wears a hijab, Zainab faces invasive, humiliating security screenings every time she flies. TSA and CBP agents conduct warrantless searches of her cell phone and laptop, and have monitored what she says online. They have asked about her religion and whether she knows anyone in ISIS. Agents have insisted on searching her groin area, poked and prodded at her body, and have looked at private photos of her on her phone without the hijab she wears for religious reasons. Zainab doesn't know why she must undergo these humiliating searches because the government refuses to tell her.

Add your name to demand that Homeland Security, which oversees TSA and CBP, stop these excessive and dehumanizing searches and implement measures to ensure that everyone can travel free from unlawful harassment and abuse.

Zainab is the founder and CEO of a multimedia site about current affairs, politics, and culture. She's a U.S. citizen, mother to three young children, and a graduate student at Harvard University, which requires her to travel frequently.

But these airport security screenings have forced Zainab to make significant personal and professional sacrifices. She and her husband, who bonded over their love of travel, now avoid flying as a family so their children don't have to see their parents demeaned by the TSA. And because of the invasive screenings Zainab faces every time she flies, she decided not to enroll in courses at Harvard during the fall of 2017.

We recently filed a complaint with DHS on Zainab's behalf, but we need the power of the public to make it clear that we won't tolerate this cruel treatment of passengers. Add your name now to make clear that we have rights in U.S. airports.

Zainab has repeatedly requested an explanation for why TSA and CBP subject her to additional scrutiny and abuse, but they've never given her a clear answer. Individual TSA and CBP officers have dismissed her questions or told her, incorrectly, that she lacks legal rights at checkpoints or in inspection areas.

If Zainab's experience is any indication, ending this abuse is going to require all of us to speak out. Sign the petition now.

Thanks for taking action,

Hina Shamsi

Hina Shamsi
Director of the ACLU National Security Project

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