September 18, 2014

The opportunity to participate in Hajj is both a blessing and privilege. If you are attending this year, we pray Insha Allah your Hajj is accepted, ask that you keep CAIR-Sacramento Valley in your duas, and recommend you read the following and learn about your rights while traveling.
Unfortunately, we continue to receive complaints from American Muslims who experience profiling at airports as well as re-entry delays. We at CAIR-Sacramento Valley believe being aware of your civil rights as airline passengers will assist you in managing any situations that may arise during your trip.
Before Leaving for Hajj
When planning your Hajj travel be sure to check all Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Transport Security Administration's (TSA) regulations at the TSA website as well as the Customs and Border Patrol's (CBP) regulations on the CBP website.
Before Coming Back to the US
Please keep the following in mind if you plan to bring back any items:

  • Check in any Zam Zam water bottles that you want to bring back. Airlines will not allow you to carry liquids in large quantities on the plane, so be sure to check in Zam Zam and any other liquids you are transporting.
  • If you are bringing back dates, make sure they are processed and sufficiently dry. You should consider vacuum sealing your dates to ensure freshness and to minimize the likelihood of contamination.
  • When packing, ensure that your clothes and shoes are clean from any soil. CBP has strict rules regarding the entry of soil, chemicals, etc. into the country.
  • If you are bringing back currency (money, gold bars, etc.) worth more than $10,000, you will need to declare it. Any and all items received or purchased, irrespective of value, must also be declared. A failure to declare may result in an interrogation and confiscation by the CBP. Please check the CBP website for more information on customs duty.

Re-entry into the US
In order to re-enter the US, travelers must go through two processes at US ports of entry: immigration and customs. CBP is a department within the DHS responsible for both aspects at the point of entry.
CBP officers are required to verify the identities of travelers upon their re-entry into the US. They must also ensure that travelers have not been engaged in illegal activity that poses a threat to national security. It is critical to present valid documentation in the form of a valid passport and/or proper immigration paperwork if you are seeking re-entry into the US. Remember, US citizens have the unqualified right to re-enter the country.
If You Are Detained
Travelers are only required to answer questions about their citizenship, the nature of their trip, and anything they are bringing back to the US that they did not have with them when they left. You should immediately and politely object to any questions about your community, family, religion, politics, or work by saying: "I wish to remain silent. My attorney will contact you."
If you have experienced invasive questioning on previous returns into the US, it is advised that you consult with our civil rights department or another attorney before your next trip. Please also see this CAIR travel advisory in regards to being detained while traveling.
CBP also has the authority to search all persons, baggage, and merchandise arriving into the US For CBP's purposes, this includes the search of files on laptops, cell phones, and other electronic devices.* If you do not want particular photos or files to be searched, it is best to upload them elsewhere and take them off the devices that you are traveling with.
If you have any concerns or questions, please complete this incident report form or call us at 858-278-4547 to speak with our Civil Rights Department. Remember our legal advice is free and confidential.