• Use a password as its more secure than a fingerprint lock.
  • Delete and shift content to a cloud or leave device at home and use a temporary device.
  • Make sure you do full-disk encryption and backup the data somewhere else
  • If you decide to travel with your regular device, ensure all social media accounts, email accounts, or any other accounts with sensitive information are deleted from your phone.
  • Memorize your attorney’s phone number, and make sure a family member has your complete itinerary, including flight numbers, and your attorney’s name and contact info.


If you are NOT a US citizen:

  • If a non-citizen refuses to answer questions, unlock their phone, or otherwise comply with CBP officer orders, they risk being denied entry into the country.  This includes green card holders.
  • Non-US citizens do not have a right to an attorney while being questioned at the border
  • Never sign an I-407 (relinquishing your green card).  If you are asked to sign an I-407 you should refuse and ask to speak to the supervisor in charge of LPR admissions.  If that doesn’t work, demand to see an immigration judge.

If you ARE a US citizen:

  • You have the right to legal counsel, so you can request to call your attorney if you are being detained.
  • You have the right to not answer any questions beyond establishing your citizenship.
  • If you don’t answer, you should be prepared for a possible lengthy delay – CBP can hold you up for up to 6 hours.
  • You have the right to not unlock your electronic devices, disclose your device password, or provide social media information.
  • You CAN be compelled to unlock your device with your fingerprint, so turn off this feature if you don’t want to unlock your phone.
  • Non-disclosure can lead to confiscation of your device for up to 5 days, and more if there are extenuating circumstances. As a practical matter, it can lead to a delay for months before you get the device back.
  • If you unlock the device voluntarily, the government can copy the content of the device, so make sure to keep the minimum on your phone when traveling.

Here is what you should not do at the airport:

  • Lie to a CBP agent. That’s a criminal act.

If you are being detained at the border, or experience harassment by CBP, call CAIR-Columbus at 614-451-3232.

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