A Canadian citizen was denied access into the United States after a Customs and Border Patrol officer went through his profile on Scruff, gay a hookup app.
The unnamed officer became convinced that the Vancouver resident worked as an escort when he found messages sent by the man saying he was “looking for loads.” To the sexually illiterate CBP agent, this was hooker code for soliciting sex for money.
André, a 30-year-old Vancouver set decorator who would not provide his full name in an interview with Dailyxtra, was traveling to New Orleans to visit his boyfriend. (I’m guessing they have an open relationship or something – or maybe in Canada both the health care and the love are free.)
André recalled the experience as “humiliating.”
“I didn’t know what to do. I was scared, so I gave them the password and then I sat there for at least an hour or two. I missed my flight,” he said.
Apparently André casts a wide net in the modern dating world, because after the officer returned: “He came back and just started grilling me. ‘Is this your email?’ and it was an email attached to a Craigslist account for sex ads. He asked me, ‘Is this your account on Scruff? Is this you on BBRT?’ I was like, ‘Yes, this is me.’”
(Then, at this point, the officer asked what “looking for loads” meant, breaking the case wide open and revealing André’s deviant sex-for-money operation.)
Sensing that the officer had no intentions of allowing him through, André opted to return to Canada.
United States law gives agents at the border broad authority to perform searches on both citizens and noncitizens, a longstanding doctrine known as the border search exception. Unlike searches within the country, authorities do not need probable cause to search travelers and their belongings. CBP can search through physical property including electronics, and can even duplicate and keep data for an indefinite period of time.
A month later, André came back prepared. In order to prove his gainful employment, he brought letters from his employer, pay stubs, bank statements, and a lease agreements. And André thoroughly scrubbed his phone of sex apps, browser history, and messages.
But apparently André went overboard. The Border Patrol agents grew suspicious at the sudden absence of data… so they looked through more of his stuff.
“They went through my computer. They were looking through Word documents,” André said. “I had nude photos of myself on my phone, and they were questioning who this person was.” (André, like most men, looks completely unrecognizable when naked.) “It was really humiliating and embarrassing.”
The agent, whose favorite book growing up was Goldilocks, told André, “Next time you come through, don’t have a cleared phone,” and sent him back to Vancouver.
Perhaps after $1,200 of nonrefundable travel fare, André’s boyfriend will consider flying to Vancouver next time because, more likely than not, CBP won’t change anytime soon.