For tens of millions of Muslims around the world, the blessed Hajj journey—the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca—can be a life-changing religious experience.
But even as we undertake our spiritual preparations for this trip, we know there are some mundane hurdles to overcome: flying while Muslim means a
much higher risk of being detained, singled out for “random” screening, and having your rights violated by law enforcement officials when you return to the U.S.
*That’s why we’ve partnered with a team of developers and our friends at CUNY CLEAR1 to bring you the Border Buddy service. *
The way Border Buddy works is simple: you register your return flight to the U.S. before you travel. After you land, we’ll check up on you via SMS
(text message). If we can’t reach you, our team of pro-bono lawyers will check to see if you’ve been detained by Customs & Border Patrol (CBP)—and
if you have, they’ll work to get you released as quickly as possible.
Right now, the project is still in a beta testing phase, and we’re limited to NYC-area airports (EWR, JFK, and LGA). As an MPower Change member, we’d
love to hear your feedback if you have the opportunity to test it out!
*If you’re traveling for Hajj this season or know anyone who is, give Border Buddy a try.
Before you fly, it’s important to know your rights.
Know that *it is illegal for law enforcement officials to perform any stops, searches, detentions, or removals based solely on your race,
religion, national origin, sex, or ethnicity. *
Remember, if you are detained and questioned by a CBP officer:
– You have the right to ask for their ID number(s) and write down the information
– You have the right to speak to a supervisor if you believe you are being wrongfully held or searched
– You have the right to ask if you have been singled out because of your race, ethnicity, or religion
– You have the right to refuse to give up your password(s) to your electronic device(s)
Write a statement of facts after the incident—with the flight number, date, and name of the airline—and ask any witnesses for their contact information.
*If you think you’re at risk of being held in secondary screening by CBP, know that you don’t have to endure it alone.
Connect with a lawyer before you travel—register your Hajj flight with Border Buddy here.
May all your prayers be accepted and may you return home safely.
Mohammad, Linda, Dustin, and the MPower Change team
P.S. For a more in-depth explanation of your rights, check out CUNY CLEAR’s Flying While Muslim guide