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.
Showing both courage and integrity, the video above depicts an active duty Border Patrol agent speaking out against the unlawful actions of fellow agents at so-called internal immigration checkpoints in Southern California.
Mike Flanders went public with his allegations of Border Patrol misconduct at internal checkpoints after his attempts at redress within CBP (Customs and Border Protection) were rebuffed. Not only were his concerns marginalized by his chain of command but his duties at the Interstate-8 checkpoint near Pine Valley were suspended and he was reassigned to roving patrol while an internal investigation and other adversarial actions were initiated against him.
In other words, Agent Flanders was retaliated against for daring to question the illegal actions of the agency. Something Customs & Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security are obviously quite good at – retaliation that is as opposed to Border Protection or Homeland Security.
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.
Several months ago, I came across an entry on the local Border Patrol union’s website where the union was complaining about the use of DPS photo radar cameras in Arizona. Since Arizona photo radar is a topic of interest to me, I read on and learned that union leadership was claiming photo radar was interfering with field agents doing their job.
After a recent abusive experience at an internal Homeland Security checkpoint along I-8 in the Yuma Border Patrol Sector, Freedom’s Phoenix editor David Hodges recounts his experience below.
In May of 2008, I highlighted an article regarding the use of Border Patrol checkpoints at domestic ferry’s off the coast of Washington State. More recently, I’ve highlighted the continued expansion of Border Patrol activities into Washington State with so-called tactical checkpoints along public highways no where near the border along with the ensuing uproar from local residents adversely affected by such police state actions.
The forum was prompted by widespread concern in Jefferson County regarding the use of suspicionless checkpoints by Border Patrol agents operating no where near the border. The forum consisted of Blaine Sector Border Patrol Chief John Bates and sector mouthpiece Michael Bermudez along with local law enforcement officials and two immigration defense attorneys.
Over 400 local residents attended the forum and from the sound of things, very few were satisfied with the answers to their questions. Of particular note was the refusal of the Jefferson County Sheriff to assist the Border Patrol with identifying or charging individuals who refuse to provide ID or respond to investigatory questions posed to them by agents at such roadblocks:
U.S. Border Patrol Chief John Bates — who is the chief patrol agent for the Blaine Sector, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula — was asked by one person in the audience that was crammed into the Chimacum High School auditorium what would happen if a driver refused to give identification to a federal agent at a roadblock.
Bates said he would have to involve the Sheriff’s Office.
Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Brasfield said his office would not respond.
“I’m sorry, but we would not get involved,” Brasfield said to Bates.
“We do not have any rights to issue an infraction in that situation.”
Not to be disappointed on the 6 year anniversary of an illegal joint task force roadblock I ran afoul of on December 20, 2002, I was molested by the same agencies yet again six years later under slightly different circumstances.
In 2002, the U.S. Border Patrol (and U.S. Customs) assisted the Tohono O’odham Police Department with conducting an illegal dragnet roadblock masquerading as a sobriety checkpoint inside the reservation along a state highway. After being stopped at the roadblock in 2002 while driving home from work, I was deemed to be insufficiently submissive and was promptly arrested and maliciously prosecuted.
After defeating the charges in court a year later, I filed a lawsuit which is still ongoing today. Whether or not this history has anything to do with tribal police involvement in the incident described below remains to be seen. A review of the lawsuit’s discovery documentation however reveals that TOPD Officer R. Carrasco, badge #166, the tribal officer who engaged in joint action with the Border Patrol below, also participated in the 2002 roadblock that’s currently being litigated in the 9th Circuit.
Over the past several months, I’ve been criticized by many who prefer the mere illusion of security over essential liberty.
Specifically, my alleged failure to cooperate with the suspicionless seizure of my person and effects at internal Homeland Security checkpoints has infuriated and befuddled those who believe in the omnipotent power of the state and that, by definition, federal agents can do no wrong.
Several who have criticized these videotaped encounters have erroneously stated that if I just cooperated in the violation of my rights by armed federal agents who claim to be protecting me, I’d be on my way in a matter of seconds instead of receiving extra special ‘protection’ for a prolonged period of time.
The suspicionless warrantless Homeland Security checkpoint seizure & drug dog search depicted in the photo above took place on the afternoon of May 16, 2008. The only crime committed by the operator of the vehicle receiving the extra special attention from armed federal agents & their specially trained canine pal was the crime of driving along a public highway located over 40 miles North of the border.