Fourth Amendment

Arizonans Want Abusive Border Patrol Checkpoint Removed From Their Town


Border Patrol checkpoint
End Border Patrol Checkpoints

The experience of waiting in a line of cars to be questioned by uniformed men is all too familiar to people who live and work near the border. I've been stopped repeatedly within the "Constitution-free zone" at Border Patrol checkpoints where I've had to to assure officials of my citizenship. I've even taken to carrying my son's passport, just in case I have to prove his identity. But, as aggravating as these experiences are, they're worse for people who have to pass through these damned police state experiences every time they drive in and out of their towns—people like the residents of Arivaca, Arizona, who are now documenting abuses by federal officials and insisting that the checkpoint be removed.

For the Arizona Republic, Bob Ortega reports:

As part of a fight to remove longstanding Border Patrol checkpoints on the roads leading into their town, 60 miles southwest of Tucson, some residents of Arivaca said they will monitor one checkpoint today to see how many arrests and drug seizures the Border Patrol actually makes.

This appears to be the first independent effort to monitor any of the roughly 170 Border Patrol checkpoints on U.S. roads and highways.

Arivaca residents are regularly subjected to delays, searches, harassment and racial profiling at the checkpoints, said Leesa Jacobson, one of the organizers.

Jacobson says the town's school buses have to go through the checkpoint every day, as depicted in a picture of a bus at the Arivaca checkpoint, above, from the End Border Patrol Checkpoints Facebook page. The caption for that photo points out:

Our children live in a world where they pass through a military-style checkpoint every morning and afternoon for school. Every time their parents take them to Tucson shopping. Every time they go to a friends house in Amado, or to Karate in Sahuarita. Men carry guns, dogs bark, lights flash.

Quite a lesson for the kids. Daily interrogations by armed officials at checkpoints provide the sort of social studies education you can't get anywhere else.

Resistance isn't really an option at these checkpoints, either, unless you have time to kill and a lawyer on speed-dial. What started as immigration control efforts have now become all-purpose law-enforcement fishing expeditions at which virtually anything can be deemed suspicious and grounds for vigorous shakedown.

In an article in Reason's January 2014 issue, Wes Kimbell described the experience of Pastor Steven Anderson when he raised objections at a Border Patrol checkpoint.

During a routine trip from San Diego to Phoenix in 2009, Pastor Steven Anderson was stopped at an internal immigration checkpoint about 70 miles from the Mexican border. A stern-looking Border Patrol agent asked Anderson to provide proof of citizenship and requested permission to search his car.

The persistent pastor declined both, citing his Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. He then asked to be allowed to go on his way. The request was denied.

After a period of dithering, agents announced that a police dog had alerted to potential contraband in the vehicle. They instructed Anderson to pull over into a secondary inspection area. The pastor repeatedly refused, at which point a Border Patrol agent and a state police officer simultaneously broke both windows of his car and shot the pastor with Tasers from each side, delivering lengthy and repeated shocks while Anderson repeatedly screamed in agony.

Imagine being stopped by those goons every single day, with the potential of an experience like Anderson's as the reward for ticking-off an agent.

No wonder the people of Arivaca want the checkpoint gone.

The University of Arizona's Terry Bressi has documented and recorded a series of unpleasant encounters, including arrest, at Border Patrol checkpoints. He maintains the Checkpoints USA website and was interviewed for Reason TV by Tracy Oppenheimer

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  1. But remember, the only people whose rights are restricted by immigration and border security controls are illegal immigrants.

    1. Well, and terrorists.

        1. And drug-smuggling terrorists illegally entering the country to collect welfare and have anchor babies.


  2. some residents of Arivaca said they will monitor one checkpoint today to see how many arrests and drug seizures the Border Patrol actually makes.

    And then go to jail when the officers get tired of being watched.

    1. No no no, they’ll only go to jail when their watching interferes with the officers’ abilities to do their job. As long as they’re watching from several miles away without any recording equipment they will be fine.

      1. They can watch from the waiting area as their cars are being searched. It’s what it’s for!

    2. I have a feeling this will only cause more people to be hassled.

  3. Our children live in a world where they pass through a military-style checkpoint every morning and afternoon for school.

    Well, those children are too young to remember 9/11, when terrorists snuck into the country across the Mexican border undetected and undocumented, completely unknown to the federal government, where they secretly learned to fly airplanes into buildings. Also, drugs.

  4. It’s stunning how there are many areas of our society which are pretty much literally police states, how we’ve devolved to that. Many public schools, border control checkpoints, shit; when I drive past the Bainbridge Island ferry pier, there are always two cop cars sitting in the parking lot there doing nothing but creating a police presence. You go to a fucking professional sports game and it’s crawling with cops.

    Again, I contend that this is at least partially due to the fact that our police forces have ballooned massively over the last decades. It’s not just that our government has gotten more powerful and intrusive, there are just tons more cops than there used to be, and not only are they often the worst people gravitating to the job and scraped from the bottom of the barrel, they have nothing to do but hassle people. Take a bunch of power-worshiping bullies, give them badges, and then give them nothing to do, and you will have what we have now in no time.

    Possibly the best thing we could do about the police state in this country right now is to trim the fuck out of law enforcement, harshly, at every level. Of course it will never happen.

    1. Don’t forget airports.

      1. Yeah, airports are so bad that they’re like a whole different level.

    2. Without the vast federal incentives, the tremendous expansion of local law enforcement could not have occurred.

      1. Yes, good point. Remember movies and TV from the 70s or even 80s where the police would complain about low budgets and politicians constantly on their backs trying to cut costs? Does one ever see such a thing any more? Ever? I know it’s just entertainment, but that stuff reflects the current reality of the times in which it is made to a certain extent.

        1. Now they complain about not having military equipment.

          1. “If Buggerville PD can have a Bradley with fully operational chain gun, why can’t we have one here in Hobodome, Chief!”

        2. When the Soviets were around, far fewer people worried about the little issues that local law enforcement was tasked to handle. The enemy was half a world away with intercontinental nukes. Once that boogeyman was gone, new ones were invented to keep the populace scared and in line.

          1. ^This. Now we only have to be better than the PRC, NK and Saudi Arabia.

            1. always important to keep that bar high, isn’t it.

            2. I remember my HS social studies teacher back in the seventies telling us that the only reason we had the rights we did was that we had to prove ourselves better than the Soviets. He was so, so right.

          2. I will now be rooting for the Russians in Ukraine and begging for a reboot of the cold war.

          3. The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. – H. L. Mencken

          4. Yes, but when the Soviets were around, people here had an attitude that said “Not here in the good ole USA, thank God I live in a free country.” Not so much anymore.

            1. I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone use the phrase “free country” seriously here. That is very telling.

    3. Possibly the best thing we could do about the police state in this country right now is to trim the fuck out of law enforcement, harshly, at every level. Of course it will never happen.

      I am now starting to understand the TSA’s antipathy towards nail clippers. They would certainly be a painful way to go. Worse than being killed with a staple gun.

    4. there are always two cop cars sitting in the parking lot there doing nothing but creating a police presence

      They park cop cars at businesses around here for days at a time. Maybe it deters some crime, but it’s also not that hard to figure out if a car has been sitting in the same spot for a while.

      1. The sheriff’s police like to spend end-of-shift time in our church’s parking lot. They cannot see anything from there…I guess all that protecting and serving (writing traffic tickets) wears them out.

        Of course, when I was in a Guard unit at the NW Armory in Chicago, all the cop cars would pile up at the end of shift in the same corner of Humboldt Park and the cops would all be asleep. I missed some awesome prank opportunities there…

    5. We spent an entire chapter in Freakonomics exploring the factors that do and do not seem to have brought down the rate of violent crime in the U.S. In short, factors that matter include: number of police; number of prisoners; changes in drug markets; and the availability of abortion.

      (emphasis mine)

      This is the current wisdom. More cops = less crime.

      1. It used to be, but it’s become purely self-serving at this point. I’m trying to figure out why police departments have been gung-ho for years about hiring as many officers as possible. It’s seems counter-intuitive to me. One of the perks of being a cop is being better than the little people. You’d think, with their monopoly on force and therefore nothing to fear, they’d be less sanguine about letting so many people into their exclusive gang club. They don’t need massive numbers when they have no accountability. Plus the fact that shitty, abuse officers who get caught cause (some) scrutiny.

        Other than pressure from the populace to increase police forces to “keep down crime”, it seems like an odd thing for existing police to want to do. Maybe I’m looking at it wrong.

        1. I’m trying to figure out why police departments have been gung-ho for years about hiring as many officers as possible.

          I would think it obvious:

          The larger the force, the more sergeants, lieutenants and captains needed to lead it.

          1. Yeah, I guess. Thinking that way isn’t really my forte so it wasn’t really jumping out at me.

          2. Don’t forget the larger the force, the more union members.

          3. hey, those six-figure pensions don’t earn themselves, you know. (requires distorted definition of ‘earn’)

          4. Not to mention – the greater the number of cops on the payroll, the more tickets that can be written.

            The more tickets written, the more revenue taken in.

            The more revenue taken, the greater the number of cops you can put on the payroll.

          5. The larger the force, the more sergeants, lieutenants and captains needed to lead it.

            Also, the larger the force, the more dues paying FoP members. The more dues paying FoP members, the more money the FoP has to donate to politicians. The more money the FoP donates to politicians, the more those politicians increase police budgets. The more police budgets increase, the larger the force.

            And round and round we go…

    6. An additional cause that is overlooked is that with the 24 hour, world wide media coverage now possible, in concert with the Dan Rather editorializing in place of reporting, the mass of the American public have devolved into spineless wimps who believe that bin Laden lurks under every bed preparing to kill their children and rape their dog.

  5. Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal.…..rnet-yahoo

    Did I miss a post on this? Seems like a BFD

  6. Tippy smelled drugs! Your ass is mine now Mr. Constitutional scholar.

  7. Note from the video: the entity that sought retribution against the citizen enforcing their rights against unreasonable search and seizure was the Border Patrol Union. Not the Border Patrol itself, but the fucking union.

    1. The whole point of public sector unions is to abuse citizens.

    2. Citizens want to tuk arr jerbzz!!!

  8. Bressi (in the video) nails it on the head. The impetus for the security state comes not from the those who wish to dominate us but from the bureaucratic empire builders. Agency budgets and job security are priority number one for our esteemed federal employees. They are just using the illusion of security goals to achieve their real end, which is to live fat and happy off our tax dollars, no questions asked.

    1. budgets and security apply to state and local employees, too. All those states with massive pension obligations? That didn’t build itself.

  9. Aerial view of the BP checkpoint above:…..9-roft.jpg

  10. Mr. President, tear down this checkpoint.

  11. This happened once before in 1982. The Border Patrol set up a roadblock on US 1 so that anyone heading into the Florida Keys was stopped. Key West’s protests were ignored, so they declared independence as the Conch Republic, declared war against the US, surrendered, and demanded 1 billion dollars in aid. That generated enough publicity that the roadblock was removed.

    Perhaps Arivaca could become the Republic of Arivaca, too?

    1. Slightly OT, but here’s an interesting tid-bit from Civil War history.

      There’s a county in TX, Van Zandt county, that after TX seceeded and joined the confederacy, actually seceeded from TX and became “The Republic of Van Zandt.” What I’m now wondering is, after the Confederacy surrendured and rejoined the United States, what happened to The Republic of Van Zandt? Since they were technically a seperate country, did they sign a formal treaty with the US to rejoin as part of TX? I don’t know if they did or not. If not, then technically they should still be a seperate country. I wonder if they could use that…

      1. Little Stevie has his own country?

      2. Yeah, much like how the 16th amendment wasn’t properly ratified, I’m sure the SC will just hand-wave that away.

  12. Where would you rather live, Arivaca, AZ or Gaza?

    1. None of the above?

    2. I’ve been to Gaza and I’ve been to Arivaca. Gaza by a mile.

      Arivaca doesn’t have even *one* thing in it that makes it worth putting up with a police checkpoint.

      Normally its a place you go to on your way to camp at someplace else.

  13. Anyone know where Anderson’s lawsuit stands? My google-fu is weak

  14. Totally unrelated to the topic, could we have Tracy Oppenheimer and Naomi Brockwell both in the same video? 🙂

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