Post details: Border Patrol Agents Illegally Seize & Search Student's Car in Southern Arizona

2009-12-08

Permalink 22:27:04, Categories: Privacy, News, Right to Travel, Homeland Security?, Checkpoints, 997 words   English (EU)

Border Patrol Agents Illegally Seize & Search Student's Car in Southern Arizona

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.

[More:]

The u-turn took place several miles before an internal Border Patrol checkpoint located along I-19. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why the Border Patrol was in a position to observe the u-turn in the first place (Homeland Security also has cameras located up and down the I-19 corridor). Regardless of the proximity to the checkpoint however (which is more than twenty-five miles North of the border), to conduct a lawful traffic stop, agents need reasonable suspicion to believe the vehicle is carrying individuals illegally inside the country. This is especially true given the existence of several communities in Southern Arizona located between the I-19 checkpoint and the border. This means there is a lot of domestic traffic along the road at any given time engaging in perfectly lawful and domestic activities.

“Assuming that Congress has the power to admit aliens on condition that they submit to reasonable questioning about their right to be in the country, such power cannot diminish the Fourth Amendment rights of citizens who may be mistaken for aliens. The Fourth Amendment therefore forbids stopping persons for questioning about their citizenship on less than a reasonable suspicion that they may be aliens.” - U.S. v Brignoni-Ponce

To conduct a search, as was done in this case, agents need probable cause or consent:

“Because of the important governmental interest in preventing the illegal entry of aliens at the border, the minimal intrusion of a brief stop, and the absence of practical alternatives for policing the border, an officer, whose observations lead him reasonably to suspect that a particular vehicle may contain aliens who are illegally in the country, may stop the car briefly, question the driver and passengers about their citizenship and immigration status, and ask them to explain suspicious circumstances; but any further detention or search must be based on consent or probable cause.” Pp. 878-882. - U.S. v Brignoni-Ponce

Since agents had neither probable cause nor consent in this case, the search of Mz. Cooper and her vehicle were illegal. Additionally, its unlikely the stop itself was legal since conducting a lawful u-turn along a public highway does not constitute reasonable suspicion to believe a vehicle contains individuals illegally inside the country.

While the Border Patrol claims to be conducting internal roving patrols and checkpoints to protect us from criminal aliens and terrorists, who's protecting us from the Border Patrol?

The newspaper article highlighting Mz. Cooper's experience at the hands of overzealous Border Patrol agents appears below:

Border Patrol went too far, woman says

By JB Miller
Published Friday, November 20, 2009 9:34 AM MST

When Patagonia resident Iris Cooper, 18, turned her car around two miles before a Border Patrol checkpoint because she had forgotten her schoolbooks, she knew there was a chance that agents might stop her. What she didn’t foresee was being allegedly forced from her vehicle and handcuffed for a half an hour while agents waited for a K-9 unit and then searched her car without consent.

“I was very polite and explained that I had forgotten my backpack for school,” said Cooper of the incident that occurred just west of Sonoita on the morning of Nov. 4. She was going to class at Pima Medical Institute in Tucson.

Cooper said that before she knew it, an agent had pulled her from the vehicle and handcuffed her. “When I asked the agent why I needed to be in handcuffs he said, ‘It is part of procedure.’”

Cooper said she waited in cuffs for 15 minutes while a K-9 unit was brought to the scene in order to search her vehicle even though she had not given agents permission to do so. “The K-9 unit went through my car, and there was nothing,” she added.

Agent David Jimarez, a spokesperson for the Border Patrol, said agents more than likely thought they had pulled over a smuggler and that Cooper was cuffed for both their safety as well as her safety. He said that often smugglers will try to run away if they think their vehicle is going to be searched. “The handcuffing doesn’t necessarily mean that she is being placed under arrest,” said Jimarez, referring to Cooper.

However, Dan Pochado, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona told the Weekly Bulletin/Nogales International that 99.9 percent of the time such an act would indeed be considered an arrest.

“When you are handcuffed that is effectively an arrest because you are unable to leave voluntarily,” Pochado said. “From the information given, it appears that the level of force here would arise to an unreasonable seizure and a violation, therefore, of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

Pochado said that Fourth Amendment rights protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures no matter where they are. He said that while it appears the vehicle had enough suspicion to warrant an investigative stop, agents did not have probable cause for an arrest.

“I hope that the agents explained themselves as to why they did what they did,” said Jimarez. He added that an apology is usually in order under such circumstances.

Cooper said agents did not apologize, but did tell her to, “Have a nice day.”

Comments:

Comment from: Some Guy [Visitor]
She should sue those agents individually, as well as their organization for false arrest. This shit's going to continue for as long as they get away with it.
Permalink 2009-12-14 @ 13:53
Comment from: Checkpoint USA [Member]
Yes she should and given the details of the case shouldn't have a hard time in winning.

The problem is finding an organization willing to take the case or fronting the money for an attorney yourself which is prohibitively expensive for most individuals - especially an 18 year old medical school student.
Permalink 2009-12-14 @ 20:34
Comment from: Anon [Visitor]
And people wonder why there are no shed tears for dead agents of the border patrol or sheriff's department. When they get a bullet, ah well, sic semper tyrannis.
Permalink 2009-12-15 @ 04:40
Comment from: Alex [Visitor] · http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URal7M7AAnk
We were more free before 911.
Permalink 2009-12-15 @ 11:56
Comment from: IBMMuseum [Visitor]
@Anon: It's not a correct attitude to say that the bad agents out there excuse the loss of even a single life. Usually statements like this come from trolls, and are a plant to say the website condones that sort of behavior and thinking. Are you as anonymous as you think when you post here?
Permalink 2009-12-16 @ 08:37
Comment from: Jeremy Beckham [Visitor]
I have sued police/local agencies on fourth amendment issues a few times before and have been able to find attorneys due to section 1983's entitlement to recoup attorney fees in the event of a favorable finding. Can't she find an attorney and point them in the direction of 1983? There may even be an attorney out there willing to work on a contingency basis.
Permalink 2009-12-16 @ 10:31
Comment from: charley hardman [Visitor]
IBMMuseum, your invocation of the T word is disgraceful, and your argument laughable.

marauders being marauders excuses "the loss of even a single life" (theirs). no badged exceptions. badged criminals are worse than the unofficial criminals. if you recognize that armed thugs may sometimes be justifiably killed, take the logic from there, whether badged or unbadged. the terror they initiate is on their heads. your sophistry is strong evidence of brainwashing.

not anonymous.
Permalink 2009-12-17 @ 08:00
Comment from: Tomas Matinez [Visitor]
I would like to make the point that if a BP dog signals on a vehicle and the owner does not give permission for a search the Boader Patrol Officer then has probabal cause to request a judge to order a search warrent. My understanding is that the officer may look into the car and if he sees something illegal in plain sight he can search, otherwise...... A warrent is required from a court. If the vehicle in question is not stopped during an actual border crossing but enguaged in interstate transportation. Placing handcuffs on a sespect is an illegal arrest, searching the vehicle without a warrent is illegal search. Delaying the suspect is interfering with interstate transportation for the purpose of committing a crime which is the illegal detainment and illegal search. These officers should be tried and given the 60 year prison sentence that the law calls for.
Permalink 2010-02-16 @ 15:21
Comment from: wowyourallstupid [Visitor]
Wow you kids are f*ck*ng stupid. Some of you can not even spell nor put a sentence together which draws me to the conclusion that this site is usually visited by idiots who could not past the 12th grade. Most of you probably have been arrested by the police at one point or another. Let me enlighten you about a little law that is called the border exception to the search warrant rule. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_search_exception

Here is another article for some of you. http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-run-a-spell-check-in-word-2007.navId-323087.html

Good luck in life, you'll all need it
Permalink 2010-05-09 @ 07:38
Comment from: Checkpoint USA [Member]
I guess there's no shortage of foul-mouthed authoritarian punks like yourself 'wowyourallstupid'.

You really should work on your reading comprehension skills. It's clearly a liability for you. The controlling cases for the article discussed in this entry are:

ALMEIDA-SANCHEZ v. UNITED STATES

and

UNITED STATES v. BRIGNONI-PONCE


“Assuming that Congress has the power to admit aliens on condition that they submit to reasonable questioning about their right to be in the country, such power cannot diminish the Fourth Amendment rights of citizens who may be mistaken for aliens. The Fourth Amendment therefore forbids stopping persons for questioning about their citizenship on less than a reasonable suspicion that they may be aliens.” - U.S. v Brignoni-Ponce


“Because of the important governmental interest in preventing the illegal entry of aliens at the border, the minimal intrusion of a brief stop, & the absence of practical alternatives for policing the border, an officer, whose observations lead him reasonably to suspect that a particular vehicle may contain aliens who are illegally in the country, may stop the car briefly, question the driver & passengers about their citizenship and immigration status, & ask them to explain suspicious circumstances; but any further detention or search must be based on consent or probable cause.” - U.S. v Brignoni-Ponce


The border exception to which you refer only applies at the actual border or its functional equivalent. Even the wikipedia article you reference makes this fact clear. The roving patrol stop described in this article occurred well inside the country away from the border or its functional equivalent making the actions of the agents illegal.

I guess it's too much to ask for an authoritarian punk like yourself to understand the difference between the border and the rest of the country.

Come back again when you can actually engage in an intelligent discussion.
Permalink 2010-05-09 @ 10:29
Comment from: Music SE [Visitor] · http://www.mp3hunting.com
It is outrageous! This should be stopped. It is clear that the petrol abused their power. I hope they were punished.
Permalink 2010-07-10 @ 00:35
Comment from: Victim of Border Patrol [Visitor]
The border patrol in San Clemente, CA Seized my car. My son borrowed my car to help a classmate move some furniture last week. Two of the classmate's other friends were helping with the move and happened to be riding with my son in my car when they passed through the San Clemente check point. The car was stopped and they tell me one of the passengers was found to be carrying a small amount of medical marijuana along with a medical marijuana registration card. They released all three young men without charges, but seized my car.
They are using a law that is meant to deprive criminals of the means to conduct criminal activities. I am all for that, but there are no criminal charges here. How can they keep car?
Permalink 2011-04-19 @ 08:16

Comments are closed for this post.

Roadblock Revelations

Welcome to Checkpoint USA's blog. Here you'll find general information and discussions regarding growing threats to our right to privacy & travel.

While I refer to court cases along with state and federal law frequently in this blog, nothing written here should be construed as legal advice. I am not an attorney. Rather, I'm someone concerned about the growing disregard for individual rights present at all levels of government.

My conclusions are my own based upon personal experience and research. The law is made purposely complex however and varies significantly from place to place and circumstance to circumstance.

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