I’ll used this opening graf from the Houston Chronicle because it says it all:
No drugs or would-be immigrants were hidden in the sedan that rolled up to a Border Patrol checkpoint on a Southern California highway last week, but within 90 seconds the driver was handcuffed.
His 4-year-old boy was crying. And a video camera mounted on the car’s dashboard captured the moment. The motorist had said he was an American but told the agent he did not have to say where he was going, would not consent to a search of his trunk and would not move his car.
“You brought this on yourself, buddy,” an agent says as he is led away.
Another traveler came through a similar checkpoint in El Paso this month, also with a video camera rolling.
Back in 1976, the Supreme Court found it was completely constitutional for the US Border Patrol to run checkpoints along the border with Mexico and Canada. Some of the checkpoints are as much as 100 miles from the border. And the definition of “border” will surprise you:
Customs and Border Protection also maintains that it can set up roadblocks—it prefers the term “temporary permanent checkpoints” for legal reasons—and question people on trains and buses or at transportation stations anywhere within 100 air miles of a U.S. border or seacoast. This broadly defined border zone encompasses most of the nation’s major cities and the entirety of several states, including Florida, Michigan, Hawaii, Delaware, New Jersey, and five of the six New England states. The American Civil Liberties Union—concerned about the erosion of Fourth Amendment protections against arbitrary searches and seizures—has called it the “Constitution-Free Zone.”
The aggressive stance reported by the Chronicle seems to fly in the face of the Supreme Court decision that authorized the checkpoints in the first place. That decision is clear that while the checkpoints, themselves, are legal that all searches and detentions must be justified by probable cause. The way this low-level fascism has evolved though indicates that the Border Patrol has adopted that small town cop mentality where an challenge must be met with violence:
Were these checkpoints doing something besides allowing the Border Patrol to exhibit penis size to American citizens, I might be persuaded that they serve a purpose. However, when one considers the thousands of miles of US Border without a single agent watching it and the numerous unmanned crossing points between the US and Canada one really has to wonder if this is anything more than a scam perpetrated by the Border Patrol to add variety to the careers of their agents.
Are the handful of illegal aliens… maybe including “Dreamers”… rounded up at these checkpoints more dangerous than the mass migration across out southern border? Why are they even bothering considering the administration has virtually decided that it will not enforce immigration laws. Since 2013, over 36,000 illegal aliens who were also convicted criminals have been released:
In 2013, ICE freed 36,007 convicted criminal aliens from detention who were awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings, according to a document obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies. This group included aliens convicted of hundreds of violent and serious crimes, including homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and aggravated assault. The list of crimes also includes more than 16,000 drunk or drugged driving convictions. The vast majority of these releases from ICE custody were discretionary, not required by law (in fact, in some instances, apparently contrary to law), nor the result of local sanctuary policies.
The document reveals that the 36,007 convicted criminal aliens freed from ICE custody in many instances had multiple convictions. Among them, the 36,007 had nearly 88,000 convictions, including:
193 homicide convictions (including one willful killing of a public official with gun)
426 sexual assault convictions
303 kidnapping convictions
1,075 aggravated assault convictions
1,160 stolen vehicle convictions
9,187 dangerous drug convictions
16,070 drunk or drugged driving convictions
303 flight escape convictions
Benjamin Franklin warned us about the folly of essential liberty (here the freedom to travel unmolested by agents of the government) for temporary safety (sorry, I wasn’t able to identify how this was making us safer). The pendulum has swung now to the point that essential liberty is being eroded simply because the government wants to show us who is boss.