Daily Xtra has the crazy story of a Canadian man who was denied entry to the U.S. after the Customs & Border Protection Agency searched his phone before boarding a flight. He was selected for a secondary screening, and the officer demanded the password for his phone. The officer went through his phone, including the gay hookup app Scruff, and gay sex site BBRT.
They found messages of the man saying he was “looking for loads,” which the officer interpreted to mean that he was soliciting cash in exchange for sex. Here’s what went down:
“I didn’t know what to do. I was scared, so I gave them the password and then I sat there for at least an hour or two. I missed my flight,” André says. “He came back and just started grilling me. ‘Is this your email?’ and it was an email attached to a Craigslist account for sex ads. He asked me, ‘Is this your account on Scruff? Is this you on BBRT?’ I was like, ‘Yes, this is me.’”
When the officer asked him what he meant by “looking for loads,” André says he tried to explain, but the officer kept grilling him.
“I could tell just by his nature that he had no intentions of letting me through. They were just going to keep asking me questions looking for something,” he says. “So I asked for the interrogation to stop. I asked if I go back to Canada am I barred for life? He said no, so I accepted that offer.”
It gets worse, because weeks later he tried to fly to the U.S. again, but had similar problems:
This time, he brought what he thought was ample proof that he was not a sex worker: letters from his employer, pay stubs, bank statements, a lease agreement and phone contracts to prove he intended to return to Canada.
When he went through secondary inspection at Vancouver airport, US Customs officers didn’t even need to ask for his passwords — they were saved in their own system. But André had wiped his phone of sex apps, browser history and messages, thinking that would dispel any suggestion he was looking for sex work. Instead, the border officers took that as suspicious.
“They went through my computer. They were looking through Word documents,” André says. “I had nude photos of myself on my phone, and they were questioning who this person was. It was really humiliating and embarrassing.”
“They said, ‘Next time you come through, don’t have a cleared phone,’ and that was it. I wasn’t let through. He said I’m a suspected escort. You can’t really argue with them because you’re trapped,” he says.
What a situation! Non-Americans don’t have an absolute right to visit the U.S., so there aren’t really limits to what they can demand to search at the border. This situation sounds especially humiliating…