Post details: 'Fronteras Desk' & KPBS Cover Suspicionless Border Patrol Checkpoints


Permalink 17:44:32, Categories: Privacy, Right to Travel, Homeland Security?, Checkpoints, 771 words   English (EU)

'Fronteras Desk' & KPBS Cover Suspicionless Border Patrol Checkpoints

With nearly 600,000 views in less than two weeks, it seems that the video I blogged about last week, which contains nine video clips of folks across the Southwest failing to assist Border Patrol agents with their suspicionless seizure & interrogation at interior Homeland Security checkpoints, has definitely gone viral.


Checkpoint USA was contacted several days ago by David Marten Davies, a journalist for Texas Public Radio and Fronteras: The Changing America Desk, for an interview regarding the video along with why folks like myself are increasingly taking umbrage with being seized and interrogated absent suspicion and under threat of force at internal Homeland Security checkpoints around the country. The interview lasted for about forty minutes and the article associated with the interview was posted to Fronteras Desk Thursday afternoon.

In addition to the article, a link to an interview with David Loy, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego, was posted (see video above) along with a response letter from Customs and Border Protection. The interview with Mr. Loy should leave little doubt regarding the legality of failing or refusing to answer questions while being seized at these checkpoints.

Since I was unable to leave a comment regarding the article on the site (doing so requires having an account on one of several social media sites), I sent the comment to Mr. Davies directly via email. A copy of that comment, with slight modifications, appears below.

It's good to see the mainstream media starting to take a more active interest in this issue:

Thank you Mr. Davies for bringing attention to the ever-expanding and increasingly intrusive Border Patrol practice of stopping, seizing, detaining, interrogating & possibly searching domestic traffic at suspicionless checkpoints setup within 100 air miles of an international border but removed from the actual border or its functional equivalent.

I'd like to point out that the video segments depicted in your article were not filmed at border checkpoints as the title indicates but rather inland checkpoints removed from the border or its functional equivalent. While the distinction may appear de-minimus on its surface, there is a large legal distinction between an actual border checkpoint where agents have the authority to search and seize on less than probable cause grounds and inland checkpoints like those depicted in your article where agents may briefly stop vehicle in order to ask a few immigration related questions but need consent or probable cause to extend the initial seizure. I only make this clarification because in my experience, a lot of folks are confused about the two types of checkpoint operations along with the legal principles that apply at them. This includes quite a few agents I've run across over the years.

I also wanted to provide links to the full video of each of the segments depicted in the video montage so readers have an opportunity to see a larger context than just the short clips compiled together. By viewing the full clips for instance, readers will realize that not everyone was allowed to drive away shortly after exercising their rights. That in one case, the passenger (depicted in the 7th video segment) was physically removed from his vehicle against his will by the Border Patrol and detained for a much longer period of time:

Linking to these videos in turn will allow readers to follow other links which show Border Patrol agents not only illegally detaining individuals for long periods of time, see:

But also fabricating drug dog alerts and, in some cases, tazering and beating individuals for exercising their rights:

These videos should make it clear there's a real problem regarding how Border Patrol agents conduct suspicionless checkpoint operations inside the country. They also make clear the contents of the CBP response letter associated with how agents conduct themselves at these suspicionless operations is little more than a convenient fiction at best.


Texas Civil Liberties Group Suing for Records Related to Gang Checkpoints:

The San Juan gang checkpoints that fall between the balance of civil liberties and public safety are at the center of a lawsuit filed by the South Texas Civil Rights Project on Wednesday.

The Alamo group claims the City of San Juan has failed to comply with open records requests inquiring about the checkpoints. Police use them to gather data for submission to the TXGANG database maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The lawsuit also states public records requests regarding the police department’s policies to review misleading, false or obsolete information in the database have been ignored.

In a statement released Wednesday, STCRP attorney Joseph Martin said, “We believe that such checkpoints are unconstitutional, and that information gathered illegally is being used to compile a database that doesn’t protect against people being mistakenly identified as gang members.”

The Monitor’s own records request made to DPS found that there were 41,863 unique entries in the TXGANG database as of February and 43,421 in all. DPS also said 803 records have been added by participating Hidalgo and Cameron County authorities since 2010.

On Thursday, police Chief Juan Gonzalez said there hasn’t been a need for the checkpoints recently and that the last gang-related murder in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo area occurred in early 2012.

“I think that the lawsuit is baseless. There’s no proof of any wrongdoing from the department,” he said. “I’m not fazed about it. We’re going to continue with our efforts reducing gang violence in the PSJA area.”

Permalink 2013-03-22 @ 09:00

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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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