Court Finds CBP FOIA Violation Excuses Laughable

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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.

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BP Roadblocks: Ineffective, Inefficient & Rife with Abuse

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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:

Border Patrol makes few immigration arrests at checkpoints

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:

Border Patrol Accused of Profiling and Abuse

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ACLU Requests Probe Into Southern Arizona USCBP Checkpoints

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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.

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Transparency Not A Priority In The Department of Homeland Security

FOIANOT2Approximately two months after the Department of Homeland Security setup a suspicionless internal checkpoint near mile post 146 along State Route 86 in Southern Arizona, I submitted a FOIA or Freedom of Information Act request to U.S. Customs & Border Protection’s Washington, D.C. office. The specific information I’m seeking includes:

  • A copy of the Border Patrol’s field manual for operating internal suspicionless checkpoints
  • A copy of the Border Patrol study used to justify establishing a checkpoint along SR86 in Southern Arizona near mile marker 146
  • A copy of checkpoint summary reports regarding seizures at the checkpoint since its inception in early 2008
  • A copy of “Immigration Law”, a DOJ publication related to immigration case law

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