Homeland Security?

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both" - Benjamin Franklin


Homeland Security Roadblock

"Uhmm, we went to the academy and we had to learn the law sir. Your...it's not a reasonable suspicion to be pulled over, it's called mere suspicion to be pulled over to a secondary...."
- CBP agent

Below you will find links to video & photos of a Department of Homeland Security suspicionless roadblock setup along Arizona SR86 near mile marker 146. This location is over 40 miles North of the international border and the roadblock took place on April 14, 2005.

It should be noted, I've been documenting all manner of Border Patrol abuse in the Southwest for several years. It was with knowledge of this general misconduct, lack of accountability, and unfettered latitude that field agents operate with that I entered the roadblock while attempting to drive home from a remote work site. None of the actions taken by the agents during the encounter quelled my anxiety. Indeed, their actions reinforced my observations that Border Patrol agents operate with little knowledge as to the lawful extent of their authority, a large dose of arrogance, and little more than 'mere suspicion' & racial profiling so far inland from the international border.

A good reference on federal court cases regarding Border Patrol authority is available on the Roadblock Registry website. If you're as concerned as I am about civil rights violations of this type being perpetrated against individuals in the name of 'security', feel free to contact the Tucson Sector Border Patrol Headquarters with your concerns. You may want to advise them that the best place to catch illegal border crosser's is on the border - not State Highways well inland that never even come close to the border.

Specific notes regarding the encounter appear below:

  • All three Border Patrol agents refused to identify themselves. I was forced to read their last names from their name tags with no way to determine the authenticity of the tags.
  • The stopping agent immediately demanded my citizenship without explaining the purpose of the stop, the scope of the stop, who she was or who she represented.
  • I responded with a request that the agent identify herself.
  • After failing to identify herself for a second time, she demanded my citizenship again. I responded by asking her the purpose of the stop. Without answering my question, she demanded that I pull my vehicle to the side of the road to an area where seized vehicles were being loaded onto a tow truck.
  • I asked several times if I was being detained. The agents responded by telling me I was not being detained but would then refuse to allow me to leave. This is of course a legal contradiction. If an individual is not being detained, the encounter is consensual and can be broken off at any point without repercussions. If an individual is being detained, he/she cannot leave without facing dire consequences. A law enforcement officer is fundamentally responsible for clearly articulating an individual's status. Failing to do so places everyone at risk.
  • At one point during the encounter, an agent demanded that I roll down my window so she could get a better look at me. She was engaging in racial profiling by trying to determine whether or not to detain me based upon the color of my skin and general appearance.
  • One of the agents indicated the demand to pull over wasn't based upon 'reasonable suspicion' but rather 'mere suspicion'. He indicated he knew this because he was taught this at the academy. While there are legal definitions for 'probable cause' & 'reasonable suspicion', there's no basis in law to detain an individual based upon 'mere suspicion'.
  • My right to travel, my right to privacy, my right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures were violated not because these federal agents had 'probable cause' or even 'reasonable suspicion' but rather because they were merely suspicious. Suspicion brought about for having the audacity to request to know who had stopped me and why.
  • Near time marker 3:38 in the video below, one of the agents attempted to break into my vehicle on at least two occasions. She can be heard ordering me to unlock the door while lifting up on the door handle. This violation was premised on agents who refused to identify themselves or the purpose of the stop, admitted I wasn't being detained, and who had clearly indicated they lacked 'reasonable suspicion'.
  • Towards the end of the clip, one of the agents indicated I was free to go after communicating with someone on her radio. She then told me they had recorded my license plate number and said, "We'll find out who you are".

A YouTube video of the encounter is available below:


 

 

Alternatively, click on the image to the left to play the 6 minute, 6MB wmv file of the Border Patrol roadblock discussed above.

To listen to the audio only, click here for the mp3 file of the stop. I've muted the names of the federal agents in three places and have amplified portions of the audio in order to better hear some of their statements during the stop.


DHS Roadblock Photos - April 14, 2005


   

Correspondence

This section contains correspondence between myself and various government officials regarding the incident. I've filed a complaint with the Border Patrol and requested the offices of Congressman Grijalva and Senator Kyl to look into the matter. Contacting Senator Kyl's office was a complete waste of time. They merely forwarded my letter to Tucson Border Patrol Sector Chief Michael Nicley and sent me a copy of the response. On the other hand, Congressman Grijalva's office took my complaint seriously and spent over a year looking into it. At one point, an aid for the Congressman indicated she had never been stonewalled as much by the DHS as she had regarding my complaint.

It should also be noted the Border Patrol packed up their entire 'High Intensity Enforcement Area' operation and moved it to Yuma about two weeks after I posted this page and filed a formal complaint. Additionally, a Homeland Security computer began hitting this website multiple times a day - using up a significant amount of bandwidth in the process. After two weeks passed, I had to block Homeland Security computers from accessing the website in order to stop the harassment.

A complaint filed with the head of the Tucson Sector Border Patrol
19-Apr-2005
282 KB pdf
A letter to Senator Kyl asking him to look into this incident
19-Apr-2005
135 KB pdf
A reply from Senator Kyl's office including correspondence from BP Chief Nicley
16-May-2005
270 KB pdf
My response to Mr. Nicley's misrepresentations
30-May-2005
548 KB pdf
Seven months later, Congressman Grijalva's office finally gets a response from DHS. As expected, the response contains nothing of substance but assures the congressman they're looking into it...
16-Dec-2005
152 KB pdf

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