This is an update to my earlier post regarding an internal Homeland Security checkpoint currently being operated on Southern Arizona’s State Route 86 near Mile Post 146.
I was stopped at the checkpoint while traveling back to Tucson late in the afternoon. I videotaped the encounter and have posted the 9MB wmv file online so others can experience a suspicionless federal checkpoint for themselves. It can also be accessed from YouTube:
It should be noted by those who live far from the border that internal suspicionless checkpoints are quickly becoming the norm while our fundamental right to travel unmolested absent reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing is being routinely trampled on. Keep in mind, this checkpoint did not take place on the border. It took place inside the country over 40 miles North of the border along a regularly traveled State highway that never intersects the border at any point.
After being stopped by a Border Patrol agent (who wasn’t actually patrolling the border), the agent refused to identify herself or her badge number while at the same time demanding to know my citizenship. Unlike local or State police who have never given me a hard time about identifying themselves, just about every federal agent whose ever approached me in the field has refused to do so. At the last federal checkpoint I was stopped at along this route, I had to read their name tags to find out who they were. This time around, the agents weren’t even wearing name tags.
To put it another way, Homeland Security agents are increasingly acting like secret police by hiding their identities from the very public they allegedly serve and protect. This attitude is also pervasive when requesting documentation from DHS. The department routinely redacts the names of its agents making it difficult to find out who they are, let alone hold them accountable for their actions. It’s also extremely difficult to get any documentation out of the department in the first place. DHS routinely violates the Freedom of Information Act and the current waiting period for those few who receive responsive replies is several years long.
When I asked the stopping agent whether or not I was being detained, she indicated I wasn’t. When I requested to leave however, she told me I couldn’t until I answered her questions – quite a contradiction!
Legally, the agent can only hold an individual for a very limited amount of time absent reasonable suspicion. Her citizenship demands are nothing more than an attempt to create reasonable suspicion out of thin air based upon an individual’s response along with their general appearance, mannerisms, skin color and other arbitrary profiling indicators used to build cases against individuals for further detention and investigation.
Make no mistake – these federal suspicionless checkpoints are nothing more than dragnet fishing expeditions designed to intimidate and harass the traveling public. They represent a fundamental violation of our right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and shouldn’t be suffered by a free people.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court created a 4th amendment loophole for immigration checkpoints over thirty years ago in United States vs. Martinez-Fuerte. This court case is now used as a blanket excuse for all manner of Homeland Security abuse and is helping to usher in the burgeoning American police state.
As my interaction with the federal agent continued, she eventually ‘requested’ that I pull my vehicle off to the side of the road and into a secondary inspection area. All the while claiming I wasn’t being detained. I continued to challenge her contradiction however and was eventually given permission to go on my way. How very nice of her!
The checkpoint included high intensity lights with generators for night operation along with two personnel and equipment trailers. At least two additional uniformed Border Patrol agents were present along with one plainclothes individual.
Given the setup, I suspect the roadblock will be in operation for several more days. This means myself, along with countless other travelers, will be subjected to yet another attack on our right to be left alone in the very near future.
Welcome to Checkpoint USA.