Stops at US-Canada border cause frustration, CAIR-WA seeks more cases in effort to end profiling

As part of CAIR-WA’s campaign to gather stories about traveling delays and abuses at immigration checkpoints and the land border, we were connected with Mukhtar[1], a natural-born U.S. citizen who has had repeated problems when traveling. Mukhtar shared several stories of humiliation and frustration while traveling by car to and from Canada through the land border.

While engaged to his current wife, Mukhtar would drive back and forth from Canada on a regular basis. He reported being stopped many times, which he believes is because he “fit the profile” of what a Customs and Border Patrol might believe a violent extremist looks like: young man with a Muslim name, traveling alone, and dressed formally.

On one occasion, while traveling with his wife, in-laws, and newborn daughter, Mukhtar was stopped and questioned about the parentage of his daughter. The family was forced to wait for two and a half hours at the border, to speak with a border agent, and eventually were told that they were free to go.

Mukhtar felt deeply embarrassed for being stopped in front of his in-laws and appearing irresponsible, despite having called Customs and Border Protection ahead of time to ensure he had the proper documentation for his daughter.

In addition to several traveling incidents and inappropriate comments by agents at the border, Mukhtar described the way in which his being profiled had restricted his freedom of travel.

Mukhtar explained that on the day of the shooting at the Jewish Federation Building in 2006, he was in Canada. His family called him to ask him to stay in Canada because they were worried he would not be able to get through the border, so he stayed in Canada overnight. Mukhtar also explained the stress and perils of crossing the border with small children. If he chose to travel by night, he had the benefit of his children being asleep but stated that it was much more likely he would be stopped extensively because he would appear suspicious if he traveled at night. If he traveled by day, however, he ran the risk of having to wait for several hours with hungry or crying children and being unable to care for them.

Given the prevalence of racial and religious profiling at the border, and the lack of mechanisms in place to address it, CAIR-WA is in the process of organizing a group of frequent travelers and religious leaders to share their stories with the public in an effort to end profiling at the border.

We know there are more cases of border delays than what is reported to us, and the more cases we are able to document, the stronger the case will become for making systematic changes to end border delays. You can help stop border profiling by asking those you know who have experienced delays at the border to contact CAIR-WA via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and phone at 206.367.4081 This will enable us to not only help the person who contacts us but also help us instigate larger systematic changes that help thousands of others.

[1] Name has been changed to protect privacy.