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 checkpoints be removed.
For the Arizona Republic, Bob Ortega
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
Arivaca residents are regularly subjected to delays, searches,
harassment and racial profiling at the checkpoints, said Leesa
Jacobson, one of the organizers.
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
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
In an article in Reason‘s January 2014 issue, Wes
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
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
interviewed for Reason TV by Tracy Oppenheimer