When he approached the customs counter at the airport, the customs agent began asking Abel a series of questions. These questions seemed strange to Abel. They ranged from questions about his family members to asking about religious groups.
Many people don’t enjoy answering questions at customs, but this felt more like an interrogation than a standard customs interview. After searching Abel’s things, the agent told him he was free to go on his way.
A few months went by without anything eventful until one day an FBI agent appeared at Abel’s brother Omar’s* doorstep. The agent left a card, but gave no information about his intentions other than that it wasn’t criminally related. Hardly relieved, Omar told Abel that he needed to get an attorney before calling the number on the card.
Abel disagreed. He told Omar that he had nothing to hide and he didn’t want to appear like he did by getting an attorney. Additionally, he didn’t even know who to call or how he would pay for legal representation. It’d easier to just talk to the agent himself.
Omar wasn’t satisfied. After a few days, he contacted CAIR-WA to try to convince Abel not to attend the FBI interview alone. CAIR-WA contacted Abel and informed him of his rights. They convinced him that whether he or not he felt like he had something to hide, he should have an attorney present when contacted by the FBI and that CAIR-WA can refer him to an attorney who can help him free of charge.
CAIR-WA quickly connected Abel with an experienced attorney who was able to guide Abel through the process. Abel found out the FBI visit was related to the custom agent’s questioning. Abel knew he had nothing to hide, but still contacted the attorney CAIR-WA recommended. During the interview, Abel was confident that his rights wouldn’t be violated since he had an attorney with him. If the FBI wants to contact Abel in the future, they will have to contact his attorney.
What if this happens to you?
* Names have been changed to protect privacy
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