Saturday, May 10, 2008

How to Reject Authority at a Border Patrol Checkpoint

Here's a weirdly compelling video of a guy declining to answer a Border Patrol agent's questions at a checkpoint 50 miles north of the Mexican border. He repeatedly asks, "Am I being detained?" and "Am I free to go?" -- questions the poor agent fights like hell to avoid answering.

Comments on the site skew pretty heavily against the motorist, who people seem to think is being rude. His manner is certainly brusque, but I nevertheless find it thrilling to watch someone bravely assert their civil liberties in the face of armed authority. I can sympathize with the B.P. agent, who's just trying to do her job. Too bad that pesky Bill of Rights sometimes gets in the way.


Anonymous said...

What an obnoxious asshole this guy is. She was doing her job, the purpose was clear and no threat to anyone except illegal aliens.

This crap with the camera ticks me off. How'd he like it if someone hassled him, or his kids, and then posted on the web?

Clearly the point of the video is to draw a hamfisted and weak parrallel between fascism and US policy... but it begs the question of who the real fascists are these days? To me, it's clear that the real fascists are aggressive left-wing zealots who don't give a shit about reality but just want to position themselves as paladins of virtue. I bet he had a "right-on" little woody after this and is basking in the glory amongst his campus buddies.

PeaceLove said...

Sorry to disagree, but the cops don't have the right to stop you without probable cause. Furthermore, as the driver, Terry Bressi, points out in some of his other videos, they frequently use drug-sniffing dogs to conduct random searches, a clear Constitutional violation specifically banned by the Supreme Court.

Why do you think that officer wouldn't give him a straight answer? Because she knew she had no legal right to detain him. If she had, she should have answered, "You are being detained."

When the cops and border patrol agents have to dodge and lie, that's a sure sign our legal system is being abused.

Don't be so quick to give up your civil liberties. They're hard to get back.

Anonymous said...

If he is so concerned about his constitutional rights, why doesn't he cooperate with the law enforcement officer? These Border Patrol agents are the one protecting us from those Mexican narcos and other mafias. If we let these terrorist take over our country then this poor ignorant won't be able to enjoy any rights, he just might become an slave.

PeaceLove said...

Who is this really?

Anonymous said...

United States vs. Martinez-Fuerte

The Supreme Court has held up the legitimacy of the Border Patrol Checkpoints in this case. They are consistent with YOUR 4th Amendment rights that protect YOU against unreasonable search and seizure. Also, a K9 sniff around the exterior of your vehicle is not an intrusive search. That is also touched on in the 4th Amendment. However, if that K9 alerts to the scent of narcotics or its derivatives OR the scent of concealed humans, that officer has PROBABLE CAUSE to detain you and search your vehicle. As so stated in the 4th Amendment. Your civil liberties are not being violated. If you have nothing to hide, why not comply with the Border Patrol Agent????

"The Border Patrol's routine stopping of a vehicle at a permanent checkpoint located on a major highway away from the Mexican border for brief questioning of the vehicle's occupants is consistent with the Fourth Amendment, and the stops and questioning may be made at reasonably located checkpoints in the absence of any individualized suspicion that the particular vehicle contains illegal aliens. Pp. 556-564.
(a) To require that such stops always be based on reasonable suspicion would be

impractical because the flow of traffic tends to be too heavy to allow the particularized study of a given car necessary to identify it as a possible carrier of illegal aliens. Such a requirement also would largely eliminate any deterrent to the conduct of well-disguised smuggling operations, even though smugglers are known to use these highways regularly. Pp. 556-557.

(b) While the need to make routine checkpoint stops is great, the consequent intrusion on Fourth Amendment interests is quite limited, the interference with legitimate traffic being minimal and checkpoint operations involving less discretionary enforcement activity than roving-patrol stops. Pp. 557-560."

United States vs. Place

"The "sniff" of a properly trained narcotics detection dog does not constitute a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment."

BP agent said...

I would like to thank anonymous for gathering some of the information that supports the legitamacy of border patrol checkpoints. I am a border patrol agent and find it absurd that so many people are misled about the authorities given to agents at a checkpoint. For those of you concerned about your civil liberties being violated, I promise you that we as agents have no desire to cause you any hassle beyond what is necessary to satisfy our suspicions of alienage and illegal activity.

Checkpoint assignment is my least favorite duty, however I understand its value in supporting our mission and do my duty accordingly. To the decent people out there that get tired of going through checkpoints I understand and sympathize. I have to go through a checkpoint everyday on my way home from work and it can be tedious after a regular 10-12 hour day. I leave you with this, if you were aware of what went on in the desert near the border you would be happy these checkpoints are established to help combat and eliminate these people from making further entry into the United States (greatest country in the world!)

PeaceLove said...

Thanks BP Agent (and your anonymous predecessor) for the clarifications and alternate viewpoints. I'm of the opinion that the War on Drugs has been used as an excuse to chip away fundamental civil liberties, so the fact that the generally conservative Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of certain types of searches doesn't impress me as an argument. All kinds of unconstitutional things -- including the drug laws themselves -- get rammed through in the name of "fighting drugs" or "protecting our children."

Anonymous said: If you have nothing to hide, why not comply with the Border Patrol Agent????

Sorry, that's just a creepy inversion of what makes a free society. The correct frame in a free society is, "If the authorities don't have any reason to be suspicious, why should they have the right to stop you in the first place?" I understand that it's easier to catch bad guys if you just routinely stop and question everybody but the cost of that is a subtle erosion of the freedoms we all value. Mussolini made the trains run on time, but frankly I'd rather live in a Constitutional Democracy and have my trains come late.

That said, I appreciate your sharing your view from the other side, that you are protecting good people from some pretty heinous things with what seems only a minor inconvenience. I guess you consider a border checkpoint only a minor intrusion into our right to be left alone absent probable cause. I respectfully disagree. I don't consider any erosion of our civil liberties to be minor, and I simply don't agree that you should have the right to stop everyone in a "fishing" expedition.

Anonymous said...

you sound like a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post.
Jack Nickolson-A Few Good Men

For Those Who Fought For It,
Freedom Has A Flavor The Protected Will Never Know.
U.S. Marine saying.

Some people have too much time on their hands and don't have anything better to do than hassle agents trying to do their jobs and protect our country. If they were violating the 4th amendment, don't you think the Supreme Court would have put a stop to Checkpoints. If you have a problem with the Law, write your Congressperson.

Probable Cause is thrown around very loosely. With all that free time you have, how about looking up reasonable suspicion and mere-suspicion.

Nightmote said...

I *am* a Marine Corps veteran, and I know the flavor of freedom. The Border Patrol checkpoints 100 miles from the nearest border are anti-constitutional, Supreme Court rulings be damned.

I'm in my car, minding my own business, and a federal agent can shut down the highway to ask me questions? Where do I live? For whom do I work?

There's nothing "subtle" about this erosion of our liberties.

Anonymous said...

The Supreme Court has upheld, repeatedly the 'right' of CBP to search and question without probable cause, to hold without charge and to demand compliance from any person within 100 miles of any International border, International waterway or International Port of Entry. This would Include any river or drainage ditch connected to the Great lakes, the Mississippi river (both declared international waters in the 'Jay Treaty') or any airport capable of handling any aircraft capable of International flight.
The Constitution has been eliminated as a defense against CBP and ICE and since 'Homeland Security' owns them their authority extends to all of HS. The last guy that got all the way to the Supreme Court that I know of had been detained without food, water or shelter on the SW border (i.e the friggin' desert) for over a day (32 hours IIRC) and when he passed out he awoke in a hospital shackled to a bed with CBP still holding him and asking him questions.

Anonymous said...

The police do not need probable cause to stop your vehicle. Anonymous is the only intelligent person here! Know what you are talking about before blabbing your rhetoric around.

Anonymous said...

Are we talking about a vehicle stop or an official US Border Patrol checkpoint? Are we talking about the police or the US Border Patrol? If you do some research you will find that a US Border Patrol checkpoint is basically the equivalent of a Port of Entry although at a checkpoint a person does have the right to refuse to answer any questions. I don't know why you would refuse, unless you are just trying to hassle the agents, or are trying to hide something. A k9 alert at a checkpoint DOES give agents probable cause to search the vehicle, with or without permission or warrant. If you want to get technical look it up, instead of spouting your opinion. I am proud to be an Agent of the US Border Patrol and enjoy my job. We live in the best country in the world and I am so tired of hearing liberals spouting off that the Border Patrol is anything like the Nazis. Are you serious? Have you not read or studied your history? Maybe we should not not patrol the US/Mexico or US/Canada Borders or interview/inspect any individuals at or near the US Border and allow the people that truly HATE us and our way of life to come here and make plans to kill us. Do you hear what you are saying?

Anonymous said...

Game, set, and match. Good comment.

Anonymous said...

come on people what's up. You say that BP is violating your civil rights. grow up its call the price of freedom. I know I am a retired marine who fought in Viet-Nam twice. It takes you longer to argue with BP about your rights than to say Yes I am a US citizen. By the way I am also a retired Police Officer and I have hear all the excuses or comments that people can give. Your right you have rights but so do the BP agents trying to do a thankless job. walk a mile in the other mans shoes before you judge. In this case stand an hour in the hot sun listening to someone arguing with you about their rights. Oh and please don't say that I am defending the BP because I was a cop. two different worlds buddy.