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.