I started writing this post a few years ago after the ACLU of Arizona first released it’s Record of Abuse investigative report regarding U.S. Border Patrol interior enforcement operations in the Tucson and Yuma sectors. I let the article get away from me at the time but recent events have brought me back to it.
If there’s one thing people can agree on regarding CBP (Customs & Border Protection), it’s that the agency routinely operates over the line. To illustrate this fact, Rachael Maddux of the Virginia Quarterly Review recently published a wide ranging article on CBP operations inside the country. The article is available online at:
For the article, Checkpoint USA was interviewed back in the summer of 2017 & briefly mentioned in the piece. The article is worth the read and should cover several topics of interest to readers of this blog. Some of those topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- A discussion on CBP’s legal authority to operate inside the country along with some of the history associated with that authority
- A recent seizure of domestic plane travelers by CBP agents at New York’s JFK airport
- The ACLU’s 100 Mile Zone and recent publications such as, “Record of Abuse: Lawlessness and Impunity in Border Patrol’s Interior Enforcement Operations”
- Ambiguity in CBP’s interior enforcement operations including the lack of adequate record keeping
- CBP’s fight against transparency in its interior operations
- The author’s personal interior checkpoint experience
- Several other recent instances of CBP abuse and overreach
A federal magistrate in Phoenix, Arizona recently chastised U.S. Customs & Border Protection (USCBP) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for blatant violations of the Freedom of Information Act. The magistrate’s findings were the result of an ongoing lawsuit filed by the ACLU & two University of Arizona law professors over three years ago.
While violations of federal law by DHS and USCBP are nothing new and FOIA lawsuits against them are numerous, what’s relatively unique in this case is the subject of the FOIA lawsuit referenced above. Specifically, it targets the Green Monster’s policies & procedures regarding interior enforcement operations such as internal roadblocks and roving patrols along with complaints filed against USCBP related to the enforcement of those policies and procedures.
Two recent articles in the main stream media highlight what most of us who live and work within 100 miles of the southern border have known for years. Interior Border Patrol checkpoints/roadblocks are ineffective, inefficient and rife with abuse.
Citing recently released ACLU documentation, the Associated Press reports that interior Border Patrol immigration checkpoints are responsible for less than 1% of illegal alien interdictions per year. See:
This despite the fact the Border Patrol allocates on the order of 10% of sector resources to interior checkpoint operations annually.
Also referencing the recent ACLU report regarding Border Patrol malfeasance, The New York Times wrote a far more comprehensive article. See:
Rampant illegal actions by Border Patrol agents stationed in border states around the country has been the norm for quite some time now. The problem has only grown in recent years as the agency continues to expand at an alarming rate with few, if any, checks and balances. As such, it’s good to see the ACLU finally taking an active roll in seeking accountability for such illegal acts at internal checkpoints and by roving patrols.
What never ceases to amaze me however is despite the increased scrutiny of the Border Patrol in general, just how many Border Patrol agents there are who couldn’t care less while continuing to violate the law. This of course only serves to show just how arrogant the agency is and unaccountable its agents are.
Looks like I’m not the only Arizonan fed up with armed Border Patrol agents seizing folks absent suspicion along public roads inside the country to interrogate, search and generally harass them absent individualized suspicion of wrongdoing.
On January 15, 2014, the ACLU of Southern Arizona filed formal complaints with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and Office For Civil Rights and Civil Liberties regarding CBP’s conduct of internal checkpoints in Southern Arizona. In the complaint, the ACLU details a dozen incidents of gross Border Patrol abuse at these checkpoints over the past fifteen months or so.
Having experienced first hand the harassment of Border Patrol agents at these types of checkpoints over the past six years, none of the abuses highlighted came as a surprise to me. Indeed, several themes appear to be repeated over and over again. First, many of the incidents described by the ACLU are ones where Border Patrol agents never even bother to ask the vehicle occupants their immigration status even though immigration is the sole ‘legitimate’ purpose of the roadblocks. Second, the number of false or falsified drug dog alerts described in the complaint should be eye opening. Third, many of the Border Patrol agents described in the complaint are equal opportunity abusers. It doesn’t matter to them if the person they’re abusing is male or female, six years old or seventy seven. Everyone daring to use the public roads these federal roadblocks have been setup along are fair game. Everyone is a target.
My thanks go out to the ACLU for helping to shed additional light on the true nature of these federal roadblocks and the so-called public servants who operate them.
On October 22nd, the ACLU kicked off a public campaign to draw attention to the proliferation of these checkpoints that are usually located within the 100-mile Constitution Free Zone that rings this once-free country.