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Old Aug 26, 10, 11:25 pm   #1
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US Border Patrol checkpoint on I-10 in west Texas

I chose to drive back to Dallas from my business trip in southern California so that I could visit my sister in Deming, NM (a small town on I-10 in southern New Mexico), and to see west Texas from the ground. I've flown over it many times but never driven across.

Going east on I-10 after leaving El Paso, there were signs on the highway with flashing lights letting me know of this "inspection station" where everyone has to stop. One lane was for trucks and another lane for cars. I assumed this was to prevent us in cars from having to wait in a long line behind the trucks. Most of the traffic on this desolate stretch of highway is commercial trucks.

The line for cars was about 10 long, and while there were lots more than 10 trucks in their line, I saw the Border Patrol just waving them through, one after another. Meanwhile the car line was barely moving at all.

I was started to get pretty peeved at this delay, because I didn't do anything other than minding my own business driving on the interstate. When I reached the head of the line, I could see what was taking so long... the Border Patrol was asking people in cars lots of questions while another officer with a dog walked around each car!

He asked me "are you a US citizen?" I said yes. Then he asked me where I'm going. I said "What's with all the questions? I'm not crossing an international border." He said "you're in a federal facility, ma'am" I told him I'm going to Dallas. Then he asked me where I had come from, how long I stayed there, and he asked me if I was carrying any illegal narcotics. After I answered those questions, then he said "when was the last time you smoked?" I said "Excuse me?!!" He repeated his question and I said "I am not answering any more of these questions" and then he said "have a good trip" and waved me on.

Since when does the US Border Patrol get to ask people who are minding their own business, driving on an interstate highway in Texas, all these personal questions?

I am going to send a letter to President Obama to let him know that he has no business criticizing Arizona SB 1070 when he needs to clean up his own house first. He is a hypocrite!
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Old Aug 26, 10, 11:34 pm   #2
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Just because the porcine agent states that one is in a federal facility, it does not mean one has to answer any of his questions, or does it?
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Old Aug 26, 10, 11:34 pm   #3
 
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were you within 100 miles of the mexico border? if so you're in the "constitution exclusion zone"
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Old Aug 26, 10, 11:36 pm   #4
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Originally Posted by deadpass View Post
were you within 100 miles of the mexico border? if so you're in the "constitution exclusion zone"
yes
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Old Aug 26, 10, 11:36 pm   #5
 
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Originally Posted by black dawn View Post
Since when does the US Border Patrol get to ask people who are minding their own business, driving on an interstate highway in Texas, all these personal questions?
Congratulations, you've just entered the Constitution Free Zone(tm).
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Old Aug 26, 10, 11:38 pm   #6
 
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Originally Posted by black dawn View Post
I chose to drive back to Dallas from my business trip in southern California so that I could visit my sister in Deming, NM (a small town on I-10 in southern New Mexico), and to see west Texas from the ground. I've flown over it many times but never driven across.

Going east on I-10 after leaving El Paso, there were signs on the highway with flashing lights letting me know of this "inspection station" where everyone has to stop. One lane was for trucks and another lane for cars. I assumed this was to prevent us in cars from having to wait in a long line behind the trucks. Most of the traffic on this desolate stretch of highway is commercial trucks.

The line for cars was about 10 long, and while there were lots more than 10 trucks in their line, I saw the Border Patrol just waving them through, one after another. Meanwhile the car line was barely moving at all.

I was started to get pretty peeved at this delay, because I didn't do anything other than minding my own business driving on the interstate. When I reached the head of the line, I could see what was taking so long... the Border Patrol was asking people in cars lots of questions while another officer with a dog walked around each car!

He asked me "are you a US citizen?" I said yes. Then he asked me where I'm going. I said "What's with all the questions? I'm not crossing an international border." He said "you're in a federal facility, ma'am" I told him I'm going to Dallas. Then he asked me where I had come from, how long I stayed there, and he asked me if I was carrying any illegal narcotics. After I answered those questions, then he said "when was the last time you smoked?" I said "Excuse me?!!" He repeated his question and I said "I am not answering any more of these questions" and then he said "have a good trip" and waved me on.

Since when does the US Border Patrol get to ask people who are minding their own business, driving on an interstate highway in Texas, all these personal questions?

I am going to send a letter to President Obama to let him know that he has no business criticizing Arizona SB 1070 when he needs to clean up his own house first. He is a hypocrite!
The checkpoint is legal. The questions are legal. You don't have to answer the questions hence when you said I am not answering anymore questions he said have a good trip. He did not develop any reasonable suspicion and off you go. The checkpoints have been challenged in court and have passed those legal challenges albeit with some changes in procedure over the years.

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Old Aug 27, 10, 12:18 am   #7
 
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Originally Posted by Firebug4 View Post
The checkpoint is legal. The questions are legal. You don't have to answer the questions hence when you said I am not answering anymore questions he said have a good trip. He did not develop any reasonable suspicion and off you go. The checkpoints have been challenged in court and have passed those legal challenges albeit with some changes in procedure over the years.
I'll point out here that these people are stopped under the color of law and interrogated at these checkpoints. They aren't advised of any rights not to answer questions, and are probably keenly aware that LEOs routinely arrest people for obstruction when they refuse to answer questions during an investigation.

An average citizen would thus reasonably believe that they are required to cooperate completely and answer any and all questions posed, including smoking habits, medical history, financial status, sexual preference or whatever other random questions the LEO decided to ask. Citizens can justifiably fear that they may end up on the receiving end of a taser for not answering, so I'll make the argument that these interrogations are done under implied threats of force and detention.

These LEOs are pretending to assert a non-existent power to harass the traveling public. The personal questions are simple abuse of their position of authority. I know they're looking for the next big drug catch, but the LEO community has decided to trample the law in the process. The claim that citizens can simply ignore the inappropriate questions posed at roadblocks is disingenuous at best. There's a man with a firearm poking his head into your car asking questions -- what normal person (uneducated in their rights in that situation) would tell the gunman to mind his own business?

Edit: That rant wasn't posed at FB in particular; that's just a topic that really spins me up

Last edited by VegasCableGuy; Aug 27, 10 at 12:25 am.
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Old Aug 27, 10, 5:12 am   #8
 
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Originally Posted by deadpass View Post
were you within 100 miles of the mexico border? if so you're in the "constitution exclusion zone"
An interesting site to look at about this topic: https://www.checkpointusa.org/
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Old Aug 27, 10, 6:38 am   #9
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Originally Posted by okazon69 View Post
An interesting site to look at about this topic: https://www.checkpointusa.org/
Yes -- especially the "Roadblock Revelations" tab. Use of the drug dog is apparently a new twist. Using these suspicionless checkpoints for anything other than a "brief immigration check" -- i.e.: a drug dog -- has already been challenged and thrown out when it's the state or local cops doing it (AZ, I think). It's only a matter of time (and lots more innocent victims) before it gets thrown out on a federal level. Use of a suspicionless checkpoint as a general law enforcement dragnet was thrown out years ago. I think that case was called "Edmund vs Indianapolis" or something like that.

The guy was asking you all those questions as a ruse to keep you there long enough for them to walk the drug dog around your car.

There was another case several years ago in which the Supremes laid out three criteria for establishing articulable reasonable suspicion good enough for them to conduct a more intrusive search beyond the "brief detention." One was that they had to establish that you had, in fact, crossed the international border on the current driving trip you were making when you were stopped at the checkpoint. The second criterion is that the trip was continuous from the border to the checkpoint. I forget the third criterion. A lot of these checkpoints are well north of major border cities, so there's no way any federal cops can prove that you had just crossed the border at El Paso and made one continuous trip that day all the way through El Paso to his checkpoint.

Since the courts have laid down some pretty stringent requirements, after you get past the discussion of whether or not these should even exist in the US, the only way for them to get you into a secondary intrusive search is for them to either get you to voluntarily disclose the information via intimidation or to keep pushing the envelope until somebody takes them to court. "Roadblock Revelations" is loaded with lots of additional information as well as videotaped encounters.

Personally, I'm tired of all these court cases required to reign in the executive branch. People bringing these cases do so at great personal risk (arrest, beatings, taser attacks, etc) and often at great financial cost.

In the interests of dialogue, I'd have to ask FB how your agency would run these checkpoints if you didn't have any of these constraints -- i.e.: a "perfect world" from a DHS perspective?
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Old Aug 27, 10, 7:47 am   #10
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Originally Posted by Firebug4 View Post
The checkpoint is legal. The questions are legal. You don't have to answer the questions hence when you said I am not answering anymore questions he said have a good trip. He did not develop any reasonable suspicion and off you go. The checkpoints have been challenged in court and have passed those legal challenges albeit with some changes in procedure over the years.
I question the legality of the drug dog; that is not part of the exception the Supreme Court gave you. ("Give a camel an inch . . .")

I also question how the Mendenhall factors would play out in the context of this roadblock; one can be stopped at a roadblock and detained briefly for a specific purpose and asked questions. The notion that the citizen has to "self-terminate" the encounter is questionable given that the driver sees the cars in front of them stop, answer questions and wait until instructed to proceed. The encounter didn't start as voluntary-- at what point do you suggest it becomes one? You seem to be advocating a position that the detention can last until the subject figures out that the continued detention is a fishing expidition and questions it, but until it is questioned there is nothing wrong with peppering a driver with questions unrealted to the purpose of the checkpoint. Or does a driver constantly have to ask if they are free to go throughout the questioning.
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Old Aug 27, 10, 8:14 am   #11
 
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I would hope that the dog was not a drug dog, but was a human dog (i.e. one that sniffs out persons) to see if the driver was trying to sneak illegal immigrants into the country.

I was stopped at one on US180 east of El Paso a few years ago.

My understanding is that they need reasonable suspicion that you have crossed the border on your trip before the seizure can be escalated. That may be the reason why the trucks were being waived through quicker. But this is certain, anyone stopped at these internal border checkpoints is being "seized."
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Old Aug 27, 10, 8:27 am   #12
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I would hope that the dog was not a drug dog, but was a human dog (i.e. one that sniffs out persons) to see if the driver was trying to sneak illegal immigrants into the country.
One can hope . . .
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Old Aug 27, 10, 10:29 am   #13
 
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Originally Posted by ND Sol View Post
I would hope that the dog was not a drug dog, but was a human dog (i.e. one that sniffs out persons) to see if the driver was trying to sneak illegal immigrants into the country.

I was stopped at one on US180 east of El Paso a few years ago.

My understanding is that they need reasonable suspicion that you have crossed the border on your trip before the seizure can be escalated. That may be the reason why the trucks were being waived through quicker. But this is certain, anyone stopped at these internal border checkpoints is being "seized."
You can hope but it was a drug dog. The dogs are trained for humans, drugs and in some cases money. Current case law states that a sniff by a drug dog is allowed without a warrant or suspision as long as the stop is not extended past a reasonable amount of time for the original stop. This is why at a Border Patrol checkpoint the dog is right there on primary. More later if anyone is interested I am pressed for time right now.

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Old Aug 27, 10, 10:36 am   #14
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Firebug4 I'm with you. I may get slammed here, but why not just make it easy on everyone & answer the questions. Now if it gets real personal I understand. As far a the drug dogs not a big deal let them sniff away if you have nothing to hide.
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Old Aug 27, 10, 11:53 am   #15
 
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Originally Posted by Firebug4 View Post
You can hope but it was a drug dog. The dogs are trained for humans, drugs and in some cases money. Current case law states that a sniff by a drug dog is allowed without a warrant or suspision as long as the stop is not extended past a reasonable amount of time for the original stop. This is why at a Border Patrol checkpoint the dog is right there on primary. More later if anyone is interested I am pressed for time right now.

FB
I would be interested in understanding a few things about the dog.

1. Is the dog trained to detect the presence of a human or just the odor of a human? In other words, If I had let a hitchhiker out 5 miles back would the dog alert the the residual odor?

2. If the dog is trained to alert to either the odor or actual presence of a human why does it not alert on every car? It seems to me that pretty much 100% of cars at the checkpoint will be driven by a human?

3. Is the dog trained to differentiate between humans "in plain sight" and those not visible?

4. Do humans in the US legally have a distinctive odor different from those here illegally? In other words, how does the dog determine the immigration status of those humans it smells?
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