Press Releases

Action Alert: Join CAIR in Urging Senate Committee to Question Trump CBP Nominee About Religious Questioning, Profiling

screenshot 2017 07 11 12 45 04(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/11/17) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on all Americans to urge members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance to use the opportunity of a confirmation hearing this Thursday to question Kevin K. McAleenan — President Trump’s nominee to be Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection — about the rampant increase of religious questioning and profiling of American Muslim travelers that occurred since he took office as acting deputy commissioner in January.


From January 1 through March 31, CAIR found the most frequent type of abuse reported was related to CBP, at 23 percent (193 cases out of 1,597 reports) of the total number of bias incidents. McAleenan took office as Acting Deputy Commissioner of CBP on January 20. SEE: Anti-Muslim Bias

Incidents 2017 Quarter One Update

This snapshot reinforces the importance of CAIR’s January filing of 10 complaints with CBP, DHS, and DOJ over reports of systematic questioning of American-Muslim citizens by CBP about their religious and political views. That submission was conducted in coordination with CAIR’s national office and its chapters in Florida, California and New York.

SEE: CAIR Files Complaints with CBP, DHS and DOJ Over Questioning of American Muslims About Religious and Political Views

Those 10 complaints filed in January by CAIR demonstrated an undeniable pattern, if not policy, of CPB subjecting American Muslims to questions about their religious beliefs. Copied below is a partial list of the invasive questions CBP subjected Muslim travelers to:

Ӣ Are you a devout Muslim? Ӣ Are you Sunni or Shia? Ӣ What school of thought do you follow? Ӣ Which Muslim scholars do you follow? Ӣ What current Muslim scholars do you listen to? Ӣ Do you pray five times a day? Ӣ Why do you have a prayer mat in your luggage? Ӣ Why do you have a Quran in your luggage? Ӣ What mosque do you attend? Ӣ Have you ever delivered the Friday Prayer? What did you discuss with your community?

CAIR continues to receive reports of CBP officers requesting Muslim travelers to divulge their social media accounts and the contents of mobile phones, along with the above-mentioned interrogations about constitutionally-protected religious beliefs.

CAIR notes that members of other faith communities are not widely reporting similar incidents of CBP questioning them about their religious beliefs.  

Following similar allegations of religious questioning in 2012, a spokesperson on behalf of the CBP stated that the agency “strictly prohibits profiling on the basis of race or religion” and follows the Department of Justice’s “Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.”

SEE: Racial Profiling Major Fear Among Immigrants Near U.S.-Canada Border

However, in addition to irrefutable reports about CBP actively questioning Muslim travelers about their religion – CAIR notes that DOJ’s guidance loopholes do not provide complete protection against racial and religious profiling as it retains several exemptions that allow DHS to use religion, national origin and other characteristics to profile at airports and the U.S. border, as well as in certain national security contexts.

Re: Concerns with the U.S. Department of Justice Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Gender Identity

While similar assurances in the past have been made by CBP to CAIR that it does not engage in racial and religious profiling, reports to CAIR and high profile accounts in the media, as exemplified by the recent detainment and religious questioning of Muhammed Ali, Jr. and his mother, clearly indicate that CBP either permits or maintains a policy of actively stopping Muslim travelers and questioning them about their religious beliefs.

SEE: Report: Muhammad Ali Jr. Was Detained at Airport, Asked If Muslim

CAIR believes that 2017’s first quarter’s sharp spike in reports of anti-Muslim bias incidents demonstrates that McAleenan as acting deputy commissioner adopting and carrying out many elements of the Trump Administration’s publicly debated “extreme vetting” program.

CAIR recently launched an app to share critical ‘know your rights’ information and simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents and is urging Muslims to download the app and utilize this resource to stay informed and empowered.

For a quick download of CAIR’s civil rights app, click here:

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

– END –

CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,

Share on facebook
Share on twitter