SAN FRANCISCO, October 5, 2015– Stockton, California Mayor Anthony R. Silva, who was elected in November 2012, said in a statement that he was recently detained by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the San Francisco International airport on his way home from a trip to China.
Silva’s two laptops and mobile phone were reportedly confiscated, and he said he was not allowed to leave until he relinquished his personal passwords to the devices. According to Silva, officers provided no warrant or court documents at the scene.
“DHS agents confiscated all my electronic devices including my personal cell phone. Unfortunately, they were not willing or able to produce a search warrant or any court documents suggesting they had a legal right to take my property,” said Silva. “In addition, they were persistent about requiring my passwords for all devices.”
Silva’s attorney, Mark Reichel, claimed the confiscation of personal property and passwords was illegal.
Silva noted in a statement that “They indicated that this action to confiscate personal property at the airport was in fact routine and not unusual.” Silva said that he was also told he had “no right for a lawyer to be present” and that being a U.S. citizen did not “entitle me to rights that I probably thought.”
United States Customs and Immigration Enforcement spokesman James Schwab would not comment on why Silva was detained.
“We can’t control what the mayor or his representatives say … but that won’t dictate what we do or don’t release to the media,” Schwab said. “Our priority is assuring the integrity of the investigative process and generally speaking we don’t acknowledge that an investigation is underway … unless or until charges are filed, arrests are made, or documents are publicly filed with the court that confirm a probe is taking place.”
While Silva said he was willing to comply if the confiscation of his property was legal, he still had concerns.
“I think the American people should be extremely concerned about their personal rights and privacy,” he said. “As I was being searched at the airport, there was a Latino couple to my left, and an Asian couple to my right also being aggressively searched. I briefly had to remind myself that this was not North Korea or Nazi Germany. This is the land of the Free.”