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An American citizen driving close to the border with Mexico was stopped at a checkpoint near El Paso on I-10 and refused to state whether or not he was a US citizen in a run-in with three immigration agents. The first two agents sought to inspect his car and asked him if he was a US citizen, but the driver refused. By the third minute of the video, the two agents had gotten a third agent who asked what the problem was. "In America, we have freedoms," the driver said. "You're stopping me for no reason whatsoever; this isn't Nazi Germany." The agent said that they were put there by Congress and that "we're just doing our job." However, the driver said, "That's what the soldiers in Nazi Germany said too."

The driver tried to turn the tables on the cop by asking if he was an American citizen and when he said he was, the driver asked for papers to prove it. "How do I know you're an American citizen; you don't look like one," said the driver. "In America, we have rights; I didn't break the law and I didn't cross the border. I don't have to answer an official's questions." The third cop said that he was being detained for inspection. "What if I just lied to you and said I was an American citizen when I wasn't," said the driver. "If I don't believe you, I would detain you," answered the third cop.

This answer by the third cop merits discussion. So if an immigration cop asks a Hispanic person if they were an American citizen and the Hispanic person were to say that they were, the cop could detain him anyway because he looked Hispanic. This sort of procedure opens the door wide open for racial profiling.

"Find a real job instead of detaining people; read the Constitution," said the driver.

Finally, the cops had enough of arguing with the driver and sent him on his way, but they tried to get in the last word. "Learn the law," one of them said. "We do not want to give up our rights; we're losing them left and right," said the driver as he drove off with his son, who had filmed the whole run-in.

Our politicians like to talk tough on border security, but the unintended consequence of having "secure" borders is that real American citizens get stopped for no reason while it does nothing to stop people from coming in. Non-citizens can just lie and say that they are citizens when they aren't. This is why we must be careful before making any kind of laws -- there are always unintended consequences.

Unfortunately, these random and arbitrary searches are routine in what has become known as "Constitution-Free Zones," 100 miles from the border.In other words, the government does not need "probable cause" to conduct a "routine search." The border is defined as a 100-mile strip around the external boundary of the US. Individuals who are far away from the border are being stopped and harassed in ways that the Constitution does not permit. And now, as the ACLU notes, these checkpoints are being set up well inland from the US border as they are stretching the limits out further and further.

The ACLU notes that two thirds of the US population lives within this Constitution-free zone, including entire states.

While comprehensive immigration reform is a hot topic in Washington, no immigration law will be acceptable unless it respects the rights of American citizens to travel freely and live their own lives. The present policy is simply a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good for that guy, knowing his rights and (4+ / 0-)

    standing up for his rights.  

    Proud to be a Truth Vigilante

    by Calvino Partigiani on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 07:01:01 PM PDT

  •  Jeez, I'm in Hawaii. The whole state (6+ / 0-)

    is in the 100 mile zone.

    Don't be fooled by appearances. In Hawaii, some of the most powerful people look like bums and stuntmen. --- Matt King

    by hobie1616 on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 07:59:55 PM PDT

  •  I wasn't sure I wanted to comment, but I will. (11+ / 0-)

    I live just 8 miles from Mexico, which puts me 92 miles inside the "100 Mile" regulation.

    This driver is a dick, and I mean that sincerely. They were actually very nice to him, considering that he was calling them "Nazis." If I was BP, I'm not sure I would have been as charitable to this guy. He obviously didn't have any weed in the car or they would have pulled him out by then and started disassembling his car: they don't have to put it back together either. A simple "yes" and he'd have been on his way in mere seconds. He broke the "profile" by refusing to do what everyone does by saying yes, so they directed him to secondary inspection. And yes, Anglos are smugglers too, especially going away from a place like El Paso, right across the Rio Grande from Juarez. He made himself suspicious.

    If I want to go to Tucson, 90 miles away, which is the "big" city around here for the entire southern part of the state, I have to go through one of these checkpoints to leave the area. It is a fact of life, one that everyone accepts for living here.

    They racially profile everyone, period. In my case I'm Anglo, have no accent whatsoever other than a generic west coast American one, and am most decidedly non-Hispanic in looks. That said, they always talk to everyone leaving the area. They have never asked to see any ID whatsoever.

    Most of the time they say hi, look in the back of my pickup, run the dog around it, and I'm out of there with "Have a nice day" to send me on my way. That's it, period.

    The checkpoints only affect people and vehicles leaving the 100 mile zone by the way, no one is inspected when they drive into the area, and once down here there are no barriers to driving anywhere, including along the border fence itself.

    In my experience here in Arizona, somewhere around 50 to 60% of the Border Patrol officers are Hispanic. Like the third officer in the video, some of them may have a bit of an accent, which is extremely common if you're Mexican-American from the border area. They actually tend to be more suspicious than Anglo officers of travelers too, mostly because they understand Mexican accents far better: someone from central or southern Mexico does not sound like the border folk at all, nor from the states of Sonora or Chihuahua. They will catch someone who shouldn't be here far faster just by speaking to them than by any other method possible. Accents from Central or South America will stand out even more.

    Personally, I find the BP very invasive at times, no question about that. In the summer smuggling season (just getting underway now) they can seem like an occupying army, with agents and trucks everywhere, and helicopters and drones overhead. Other times it will be days between sightings, and all is quiet.

    If we had a sane drug policy, and a sane immigration/work policy, we would not have this situation with the checkpoints. I really don't feel this is giving up any of my rights at all, and it started way, way before either Obama or Clinton. I think it was Saint Ronald of Reagan who started this checkpoint crap, and no one protested then.

    I'm not flaming anyone on this, believe me. I'm liberal, and vote for the better side of politics, especially here in Arizona, where we have enough crazies as it is in government. I just thought I could add a little personal commentary on a subject I know well.

  •  Some additional videos of this type here: (5+ / 0-)

    “Are You An American Citizen?”: Defying The Border Patrol In Viral Videos

    On the general topic of border-control fascism, this account of the harassment of a female Canadian academic is worth a read.

    I am pretty far out of the mainstream on this, but IMO it is long past time we recognized:
    a) that the freedom of movement is a universal right, regardless of whether imaginary lines are crossed, and
    b) that these little bits of petty tyranny are not some sort of aberration within the immigration system, they are the immigration system, in America as elsewhere in the world.  

    It is long past time we gave labor the freedom of movement that we have long since given to capital.

    Thanks for the diary!

    •  There is a (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eternal Hope, Joieau, a2nite

      Check point contest right now.

      Not a fan of police checkpoints?

      Do you recognize that no one, even if they wear a badge, has the right to impede your freedom of movement, or to search your property, when you’ve done nothing wrong?

      The use of checkpoints has proliferated in “the land of the free”, especially since 9/11 and the accompanying security theater.

      Whether that’s in the form of a DUI checkpoint in your town* or a now-permanent checkpoint on a road that never crosses the border*, more and more people are realizing what checkpoints are really about: control.
      Educate others about checkpoints and their rights should they encounter one themselves, and you could win an an awesome HD camera that you can carry and/or dash-mount!

      The Veho Muvi Gumball 3000 comes with everything you need – dashcam mount, carrying case, remote control, straps, mounts, 8GB mini SD card, USB cord, etc.

          A Veho Muvi Gumball 3000 Special Edition MUVI HD Camcorder will be awarded to the creator of the content that best demystifies roadblocks**

          Content can be in the form of a video compilation (such as this video), your own experience (such as, for me, this video), a narrative, art, relevant know your rights resources, etc.

          Deadline is midnight EST, Monday, April 8th, 2013 – just send an email with “Checkpoint Content Contest” in the subject line and the content (link to external URL, attachment, in text body, etc) to ““

          The winner will be determined by a three judge panel – Terry Bressi from, Ian Freeman from, and Pete Eyre from

          The winner will be contacted via the same email used to submit their content (so be sure it’s one you check) on/by April 22nd, 2013, their address solicited to mail the camera, and if agreed-to, interviewed (via phone/Skype/email/etc) for a follow-up post

      "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 06:27:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If the driver did not know that we police that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exlrrp, a2nite

    border for people and contraband trying to enter illegally, then perhaps he should join the "stupid" party.  

    I was stopped and detained in an airport coming in from a foreign country for a very stupid reason AND I was held for hours AND I missed the last flight AND I had to pay for cabs and a hotel because the airport closed.  If I had pulled that kind of BS and been disrespectful, they could have left me sitting there for days.  

    Comparing someone who is doing their job near the border to a Nazi is way out of line.  

  •  Misuse of the word "Nazi." Ignoramus. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, GoGoGoEverton

    Any point this guy is trying to make is made pointless by his comparison.

    "This is NOT what I thought I'd be when I grew up."

    by itzik shpitzik on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 03:56:37 AM PDT

  •  Only a white guy could get away with that nt (2+ / 0-)
  •  Thank you George Bush! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We now have the checkpoints, and need a passport to go out of the US.  It is totally ridiculous.

    And if  you think American Customs is bad, try Canadian Customs.  With Texas license plates, I count on having my vehicle search thoroughly every time I cross into Canada.  They want my guns.  The ones I have never bought.  Now they even ask if I have a concealed carry permit.  I don't know if I can be denied entry if I do have a permit, but it stopped me from getting one.  

    If you want to know the real answer: Just ask a Mom.

    by tacklelady on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 07:44:53 AM PDT

    •  Canada has toughened (0+ / 0-)

      Canada has always been absolute about handguns.  Long guns can be brought in with the correct permits.  Don't admit to ever having a drunk driving conviction--that's ground for refusal for admittance.  I doubt that a concealed carry permit is grounds, but they don't really need much in the way of grounds to refuse entry, eh?  

      I haven't heard of anyone being bothered in Canada away from the border.

      A thorough search is where they strip the interior of your car apart, then leave you with all the pieces and screws there on the ground.  I know people that's happened to.  There were granted admission to Canada, but their car was in pieces.  (These were law abiding scruffy looking guys in junker cars transiting through Canada to get to jobs in southeastern Alaska, and they had the paperwork to show that they had the jobs.)

  •  I live on the water border (0+ / 0-)

    I live on the water border of the U.S. in sight (on a clear day) of Canada.  Too far and too cold to swim.  It could be rowed, but there are easier way to cross illegally.

    Border Patrol had been randomly stopping drivers and public transit buses for their interrogation.  There was such a public uproar that it was stopped.  We now see Border Patrol vehicles on the roads doing exactly nothing.  There is one overlook where I occasionally see one parked...good spot for a nap by an underworked agent.  One of the Border Patrol agents was even reprimanded for publicly commenting that they had too many agents and not enough work in this station.

    There are very few instances where a person must produce identification in the U.S.  Crossing a border is one, of course (but not just being in the proximity of a border).  Pursuant to investigation of a traffic infraction if you are the driver is another.  Generally, it is no crime and no reason for arrest to refuse to give your name and address or to present an identification document.  Check your own state's laws about the need to present I.D.  You certainly can refuse every time to permit a search without a search warrant, except when crossing a border.

    •  The Border Patrol was never looking for Canadians (0+ / 0-)

      The uproar with the Border Patrol near the Canadian border was that they were pulling over people who looked Hispanic who happened to be driving near the Canadian border.

      And, they were stopping domestic busses (i.e. busses that weren't crossing the border) that happened to pass through cities like Buffalo to look for people with brown skin.

      You would think that near our Northern border they would be looking for people with white skin crossing the border.

      But no, it has always been about hunting down brown skinned Spanish speaking immigrants.

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