Handy Guide Tells You What Rights Border Patrol Is Violating When They Pound on You


U.S. Customs and Border Protection

I've written recently about the ongoing tensions in Arivaca, Arizona, between local residents and the U.S. Border Patrol agents who run a checkpoint on the road in and out of town. The locals don't like being scrutinized and interrogated every time they go shopping or to school, and the feds don't like being challenged. Border Patrol agents also behaved badly in the case of Larry Kirschenman, who they roughed up at the Nogales port of entry. And they misbehaved when they apparently slashed Clarisa Christiansen's tires while rousting her well within the boundaries of the United States.

Given the wide range of surliness and abuse meted out by these uniformed guardians of the dotted line on the map and roadbocks elsewhere, just how are we supposed to know just what rights they're violating when they detain us, trash our property, or knock us around?

Fortunately, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona publishes a handy guide to your rights when encountering members of the Border Patrol. Agents may not respect it, but you can use it as a checklist for keeping track during your meetings—and possibly for planning a legal response in the aftermath.

Among the disregarded rights you are likely to encounter at checkpoints within the U.S.:

Agents should not ask questions unrelated to verifying citizenship, nor can they hold you for an extended time without cause.

Simply driving around:

Border Patrol "roving patrols" cannot pull over vehicles to question occupants about their immigration status unless agents have a "reasonable suspicion" of an immigration violation or crime. Reasonable suspicion is more than just a "hunch.

And at border crossings:

• Cannot use excessive force.

• Cannot conduct more intrusive searches such as strip searches or repeated detentions unless they have "reasonable suspicion" of an immigration violation or crime.

• Should not damage personal property during an inspection.

The guide is available in both English and Spanish so you can follow along with the bouncing baton during your Border Patrol encounters.

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  1. ? Should not damage personal property during an inspection.

    Agents who do this deserve a flashbang… to the face.

    1. “Should” is a bit weak don’t you think?

  2. Did those punks at the ACLU remember to include the fact that AZ has the nifty new revenge porn law?

    The one that

    The law makes it a crime “to intentionally disclose, display, distribute, publish, advertise or offer a photograph, videotape, film or digital recording of another person  if the person knows or should have known that the depicted person has not consented to the disclosure.”

    Over under on how long it takes the border patrol to invoke this law on those fucking uppity citizens who tape their detentions?

    1. Freedom is… fungible to the ACLU.

      1. Sure, they’re not perfect, but I’ve never understood the shit they get here.

        1. They’re… disappointing.

          As I’ve said before, they’re like a supreme court justice, at some point, they’ll disappoint you.

          The ACLU has been very good (mostly) on Freedom of Speech, and very good on the illegal search/seizure.

          Many of the other amendments they’re very wishy-washy on– they have no interest in the second.

          However, the ACLU has demonstrably confused civil liberties with “equality”. And those two things should never be confused.

          1. Many of the other amendments they’re very wishy-washy on– they have no interest in are actively hostile to the second.

            FTFY. If they simply had no interest in it, I’d be ok with that – after all, the NRA, SAF, etc. have it covered pretty well. But they’re often actively hostile to it, going so far as to repeat anti-gun talking points and favoring their interpretations, and that really pisses me off.

      2. The ACLU is a flawed but valuable tool for defending our rights and freedoms. I’ve heard from here that donating to the local chapter is a much better idea than donating to the central HQ.

  3. Should not damage personal property during an inspection.

    I’ve heard stories of border agents using knives to rip open car seats to search for drugs when not shown sufficient respect. As in completely destroying the interior of the vehicle. Because fuck you that’s why.

  4. I go through a check point fairly regularly in south Texas. I’ve never had any trouble – as soon as they look in the minivan and we say yes we’re citizens, they immediately wave us on. But I always start my phone recording just in case.

    1. Does the BP thuggishness vary by state?

    2. ” I’ve never had any trouble ”

      Is the checkpoint at the border or “inland”?

      You don’t consider it “trouble” to have to stop what you are doing and get in a line of cars?

  5. Reasonable suspicion? That’s what the dog is for. SCOTUS said so.

  6. Agents should not ask questions unrelated to verifying citizenship, nor can they hold you for an extended time without cause.

    An agent asked me if I spoke any languages other than English when coming back to the US from Mexico? I replied “A little Cherokee.” and gave her a sideways look. She quickly stamped my passport and handed it right back to me.


    1. I wonder if “pig latin” would get you a beating?

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