Saturday, December 06, 2008

Your Border Patrol At Work

I've been thinking about the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol lately because I'm often in southern Arizona and am always amazed when I encounter a highway Border Patrol checkpoint, sometimes as much as 50 miles from the border.

The drill is always the same. I'm on a rural highway in the desert. The checkpoint always has about a dozen uniformed agents and what appear to be some cops, all armed. The typical drill is, a Border Patrol agent, struggling through English as a barely second language, orders you to roll down your window and asks that you state your citizenship.

Say "United States" and -- presumably -- fit the approved racial profile, and off you go with a courteous "Thank you."

It always galls me because I have been pulled over by a federal agent who has no real police power this far from the border. I have been required to essentially prove my citizenship, well beyond the legal boundaries of a national border. Where, I always wonder, does the border zone legally end? In Oklahoma?

These intimidating checkpoints strike me as fundamentally unconstitutional.

But not wishing to spend the day in quasi-custody on some dusty desert pullover arguing the Bill of Rights with people who care only about when their shift ends, I say "United States," and I'm waved on.

Long way around the barn to note that one of the worthies from the Customs and Border Protection division of Homeland Security in Boston has been busted for ... hiring illegal immigrants to clean her home.

Here's the story from the Boston Globe.

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2 comments:

Trey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John C said...

According to the ACLU, the border patrol was given the ability to set up check points within 100 miles of the border through federal statute 8 CFR 287.1 (a)(1-3); see http://vlex.com/vid/19608292 for the text of that rule. This rule gives them the right to enter homes without warrants and extends the concept of being in a constitution free zone from the border to anywhere within 100 miles of the border.

The ACLU goes on to point out that 2/3s of our population lives within 100 miles of the border, which is now a constitution free zone from the point of view of the border patrol.

So, who really cares about the border officer with little English skills stopping your car; what are you going to do when he knocks on your door and tells you that he is going to search your house?