A federal magistrate in Phoenix, Arizona recently chastisedU.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 Arizonalaw 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.
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.
In yet another example of illegal Homeland Security enforcement activity inside the country, 18 year old Iris Cooper is one of the latest victims of Border Patrol aggression against the traveling public.
Last month, Mz. Cooper was on her way to class at the Pima Medical Institute in Tucson, AZ when she realized she had left her school books at home. Northbound on I-19 in Southern Arizona, she turned around to retrieve them only to be stopped, seized, detained and searched by Border Patrol agents shortly after conducting a perfectly legal about-face. In addition to seizing and searching her, the federal agents added insult to injury by handcuffing her and forcing her to wait thirty minutes for the arrival of a K-9 unit that proceeded to search her vehicle upon its arrival absent consent.
In followup to my May 2008 blog entry regarding two Border Patrol agents retaliated against for whistle blowing, the agents have been fully reinstated by the agency.
Problems for the agents started in late 2006 when the ex-wife of one of the agents, along with his minor children, were stopped by a Border Patrol roving patrol near Rodeo, New Mexico. During the stop, agents searched the vehicle and found marijuana. Agent Curbelo’s ex-wife was arrested and his children detained.
A few days after I was illegally stopped by a Homeland Security Roving Patrol late at night along SR86 in Southern Arizona, the news article appearing below was published in the Arizona Daily Star. The article discusses two Border Patrol agents who are suing the Department of Homeland Security for retaliating against them. The agents publicly revealed information regarding an often practiced but illegal enforcement technique known as ‘shotgunning’ by other DHS agents.
While driving to a remote work site late in the evening on May 14, 2008, I was targeted by a Federal Homeland Security Agent on roving patrol and followed for several miles along SR86 in Southern Arizona. After following me for some distance, the agent initiated a traffic stop absent reasonable suspicion along a deserted stretch of this unlit two lane highway. There were no developed shoulders along the side of the road making it impossible to completely pull out of the lane of traffic.
Selected photos from Southern Arizona’s State Route 86 from August 2007 are now available.
Unlike last month, August showed a marked increase in Border Patrol profiling activity along Southern Arizona’s State Route 86. In fact, these so-called Border Protection agents could be seen using cameras to spy on unsuspecting occupants of vehicles along a state highway forty miles North of the border:
Selected photos from Southern Arizona’s State Route 86 for June and July 2007 are now available. The last few months have shown less active Border Patrol activity but a larger State Police presence and about the same level of Wackenhut Security activity. Wackenhut is the private security firm awarded a contract with Customs & Border Protection to transport alleged illegal aliens around Southern Arizona and back to Mexico.
Whether or not the Border Patrol is spending more time on the border and less time harassing motorists in the interior of the country is unclear but the reduced presence along SR86 recently is certainly a welcome change. I’ll premise this statement however with the knowledge that the Border Patrol is opening a substation in Three Points, Arizona and has announced plans to construct a permanent checkpoint installation forty miles North of the international border along I-19.