Holding Border Patrol Accountable: Terry Bressi on Recording his 300+ Checkpoint Interactions


"This is not increasing our security, in fact, it's making us less secure. It's just feeding an empire building, it's feeding agency budgets, and job security for various law enforcement agencies," says the University of Arizona's Terry Bressi of in-country immigration checkpoints.

Bressi sat down with ReasonTV's Tracy Oppenheimer to discuss these checkpoints and their implications for civil liberties. Bressi estimates that he has been stopped by border patrol between 300-350 times. After his first encounter, he started carrying cameras and audio recording equipment, and has since been videotaping his checkpoint interactions. He says this holds officers accountable for their actions, and he hopes that by posting these videos online, citizens will become more aware of their rights.

"A federal agent who is standing in the middle of a public highway, wearing a public uniform, collecting a public paycheck while seizing the public absent reasonable suspicion has no expectation of privacy," says Bressi in regards to filming border patrol agents. "This is something that I like to remind folks of, that the government thinks that we don't have any right to privacy whatsoever, but that's a double-edged sword."

For more of Bressi's checkpoint videos, visit his YouTube channel.

About 7 minutes.

Produced by Tracy Oppenheimer, shot by Zach Weissmueller.

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  1. Hmm. Learned something new. He said "within 100 air miles" of the border. I saw border patrol operating more than 100 miles from the border this past weekend, and now I know why...

    1. Nautical miles I believe is the correct term.

    2. Wait til they redefine it to vertical miles and put the entire country within 100 miles of the "border".

      1. I think they'll go for "within 100 miles of "navigable" waters"

  2. Nobody leaves comments on videos, so prior to the PM links I will vent here...

    My baby was born on Wednesday. She was induced because of heart rate (rate itself was good, variability was good, they wanted accelerations to 15 bpm more than resting and only were getting 10) at 39 weeks gestation, so a full-term baby.

    The delivery went well (my wife is doing great) and after they did initial checks on the baby they were a little concerned about her heart rate, but they wrapped her up and let me hold her while finishing up with my wife. She is adorable and has my nose.

    (Why do people get so excited about placentas? I have seen stuff about eating them and making prints with them - what the fuck? That is a gross looking item.)

    Then they needed to do another check on her, and her heart rate was still too high so they took her away. It got up to 280 before they gave her a medicine to stop that rhythm, which she handled properly and it hasn't gone nuts since. Aside from taking her to a cardiologist regularly, her one incident of SVT isn't really a concern.

    1. However, her heart got her admitted to the NICU. As one of the doctors told us, all you have to do to get admitted is scare somebody, but to leave you have to be perfect. So now she is in for a crap-ton of tests. Her bicarbonate levels were super low, so they gave her a medicine which fixed that, but that medicine doesn't necessarily play nice with the medicine she needs to take for at least the next 10 months to make sure her heart stays on good behavior. So they are keeping her until Wednesday at least; if she passes the test then she gets to go home.

      My wife is holding up incredibly under the circumstances and has the baby gaining weight with exclusive breast-feeding. Thankfully the NICU nurses are very supportive and there's a room next to the NICU where parents can stay, so they have been getting her up whenever the baby is hungry. If you have a baby in the Philadelphia area I would definitely recommend AMH, but holy shit do I want my baby to come home. It is heartbreaking, though I'm doing a lot better than I was when they first took her away from me and I have gotten to hold her every day. She is the healthiest-looking baby in the NICU. I know Brett L was going to have a baby around this time and I hope he and everybody else gets to bring their baby home as soon as the mother is released.

      1. So, now I am working because I don't want to burn all my vacation when my baby has the world's most qualified babysitters. But I get to stay close to her at night and can support my wife.

        1. Writing all this out has made me feel a lot better, because the summary is "I have a basically healthy baby who is happy and doing well, but things are not yet ideal because they want to make sure everything is perfect with her." So, I kinda feel like a whiner now.

          1. The fact that you are so concerned means you are going to be a good dad.


          2. Oh Spoonman, congratulations, and don't feel like a whiner. You have a beautiful healthy baby and of course you want her and your wife with you all the time. Sorry you have to wait but good luck getting through it and I'm glad it sounds like it's really going quite well at this point!

          3. No, venting is a good thing. It made you feel better, right?
            Congrats on having a basically healthy kid who is being well cared for! Very happy to hear it's all working out pretty well -- even if it does suck to no t have the tyke at home by now.

          4. You wanna whine about being deprived of the society of your wife and child? WHINE AWAY. That others have it worse doesn't make your situation right, or pleasant. I will pray that the doctors are overreacting, and that they stop soon. And that your child is grown and gone before CPS even knows she exists.

          5. Let me be the first one so boorish as to point out that your little cupcake was just as adorable immediately prior to exiting those last three inches of vagina, yet was subject to a pair of scissors up the base of her skull.

          6. Congrats and good luck.

            A few of us here have daughters.

          7. Congratulations! Had a sphincter-clenching birth experience too, and as much as it sucked I think it wrenched a greater level of gratitude out of me for things having worked out.
            Did they prescribe digitalis? Miraculous stuff at the right dose, but worth researching potential interactions. I bet you're already a pro at taking a brachial pulse!

          8. they are probably just trying to bill your insurance for as much as possible. If you look hard enough you will find something wrong with any newborn, so whatever complex condition or syndrome they might be trying to scare you with don't sweat it she will be just fine.

        2. That's sad.

          I had a similar experience; my son fell down and hit his head hard in preschool. So they called me and demanded I take him to the ER, which I did. At the ER he started throwing up, because he had a fucking stomach virus.

          So the ER staff freak out and put him in ICU. He spent a weekend locked up in the hospital because the docs wouldn't let go of the throwing-up-because-brain-damage concern.

          In my case, the RN's helped me penetrate the bureaucracy so that I didn't have to kidnap my kid. After two days, I was ready to sell the doctors to the pleasure-mines of Omicron Persei 8.

          1. children with insurance are low-hanging fruit to hospitals they will never pass it by.

            ofc on the flip side they also have to worry about getting their asses sued off if they aren't 100% perfect in all things and something bad happens

        3. Congrats.

      2. Congratulations. I understand the NICU nurses are almost always terrific and I'd guess she's getting great care.
        When my eldest was born (25 years ago), he was an 8 pound bruiser but had some minor breathing issues and went to the NICU. He looked like Godzilla next to some of the tiny premies in there. He never had any other problems, except now he's in law school.
        When my twins were born (a bit early) my daughter was just over four pounds, which allowed her to barely avoid a mandatory NICU stint.

        1. Oh yeah, the NICU nurses are awesome. As a bonus, many of them have children themselves and have been very helpful getting my wife established with breastfeeding.

          1. Congrats. It looks like you are going to be a great dad.

        2. He never had any other problems, except now he's in law school.

          Badum *tish*

      3. My gut reaction is always to be extremely skeptical of doctors, and do my own research, especially when I view them as coming to knee-jerk conclusions. So I'd definitely be crawling up the wall in your situation.

    2. Congrats, Spoonman. Wishing a good outcome for your daughter and strength to endure the medical bureaucracy to you and your wife.

    3. Congrats.

      Re placenta: keep it preserved for the stem cells!

    4. Congrats! Any kind of issues are scary, but she'll be home soon enough. Try to get some sleep while you can.

    5. Congratulations!

    6. Good on You. Save the cord blood if it's not too late.

  3. I live less than an hour from the border in Vermont. What it means is that in the geographical bubble of my normal routine the US Government can stop me, question me and search without probable cause because "terrorism".

    1. To be fair, the fact you complain about that is evidence you are a terrorist. So now they can detain you anywhere.

  4. I usually skip the videos but this one is fantastic. Too bad they didn't include a transcript.

    "When I first starting taping my encounters with the border patrol checkpoint back in Jan 2008, within a couple of months, the border patrol union, not the actual border, attempted to get me fired here at the Univeristy (of Arizona) by writing letters of complaint to the university president and also wrote letters to the Arizona State Legislature, and also wrote to various local law enforcement agencies claiming that I was violating the law by posting video and pictures of border patrol agents online."

    Good job sir. I am somewhat surprised the university actually backed him up, he's obviously an evil gubmint hating libertarian and that's not the kind of free speech they like to associate themselves with.

    1. Maybe he is also in a union?

      Unions all the way around!

      1. His union doesn't wear guns and drive gov licensed tanks....yet.

        Free speech outside of free speech zones really is akin to terrorism.

    2. also wrote to various local law enforcement agencies claiming that I was violating the law

      Which if that was actually the case you can be damn sure they would have arrested him for doing. So, Bullshit.

  5. Nice to hear his employer stood up for him. Could have easily seen them caving to the "pressure" of the BP union. Also sounds comical him telling how they essentially 'tattled' on him for breaking the law... you're f-ing law enforcement for god sakes.

    Oh and since no one has yet, [insert obligatory inappropriate/sexist remark here]

  6. Why is the name of the video not "Terry Stopped?"

  7. I nominate him for "American of the Year"

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