The American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday it intends to appeal a federal judge's dismissal of allegations from a Twin Cities imam and two other Muslim Americans that they were subjected to illegal and invasive questioning by U.S. agents at various airports and ground border crossings about their religion and faith practices while returning from overseas.

The accusations were leveled in a civil rights suit filed in March 2022 in U.S. District Court in central California against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on behalf of the plaintiffs by the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

"CBP's targeting of our clients for religious questioning because they're Muslim is unconstitutional discrimination," said Sarah Taitz, of the ACLU's National Security Project. "People don't lose the right to practice their faith and to be free from religious discrimination simply because they're at the border. We are taking this case to the Ninth Circuit [Court of Appeals] and will keep fighting to end this harmful practice."

Judge Fred Slaughter reviewed the motion to dismiss over a four-month period before throwing out the claims made against CBP, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Homeland Security Investigations.

"The court finds substantial legal authority supports the government's historically broad authority to implement security measures at the border," read the order from Slaughter, a Biden administration appointee.

The suit alleged that in several instances, when the three returned to the United States from overseas trips, CBP and Homeland Security Investigations officers asked them questions, including whether they are Muslim, which mosque they attend and how often they pray. The suit also alleged the answers were retained in a law enforcement database for up to 75 years.

"Whenever I travel back home to the United States, I'm anxious," plaintiff Abdirahman Aden Kariye, an imam at Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, said in a statement issued through the ACLU soon after the suit was filed.

"I'm constantly worried about how I will be perceived, so much so that I try to avoid calling any attention to my faith," he added. I normally wear a Muslim prayer cap, but I no longer wear it at the airport to avoid being questioned by border officials."

The ACLU contended these questions violated their constitutional rights to religious freedom and to be free of unequal treatment based on religion.

Joining Kariye as plaintiffs were Mohamad Mouslli, from Gilbert, Ariz., and Hameem Shah, from Plano, Texas. Along with Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the questioning by federal officers cited in the suit occurred at airports serving Seattle, Los Angeles and Ottawa.