Friday, October 11, 2013
AZMEX UPDATE 11-10-13
AZMEX UPDATE 11 OCT 2013
Note: Unlike citizens visiting national parks or monuments, very doubtful they will face any charges or consequences. Probably a Wackenhut bus. As of 10:30 AZ time still in progress.
Immigration protesters in Tucson halt bus
By Associated Press
Originally published: Oct 11, 2013 - 9:49 am
TUCSON, Ariz. -- An immigration protest in Tucson has stopped a bus carrying detainees and blocked entry into the federal courthouse's parking lot.
A dozen demonstrators used chains and pipes to lock themselves to the wheels of the bus Friday. It's stopped on a nearby Interstate 10 frontage road.
Another group of demonstrators similarly fastened themselves to the courthouse's parking entryway to block access.
The protesters said they're trying to halt court proceedings that lead to deportations.
Note: For the legal types some interesting issues raised.
'Are you detaining me?' Citizens, lawyers question legality of BP vehicle searches
This YouTube screen grab shows Jill Lix, a 26-year-old resident of the Patagonia Lake area, talking to a Border Patrol agent during an incident in which another agent tried to send her to secondary inspection at a checkpoint near Sonoita. See the video at tinyurl.com/m6xcf9o.
Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013 9:49 am | Updated: 10:05 am, Fri Oct 11, 2013.
By Curt Prendergast
A local woman has created a stir on the Internet after she recently posted a video in which she defied the Border Patrol's apparent attempt to search her vehicle without legal cause.
Jill Lix, a 26-year-old resident of the Patagonia Lake area, said she always carries a camera in her car so that she can document when Border Patrol agents "harass" her at checkpoints. And so she was ready to roll in early September when an agent at a checkpoint near Sonoita told her to pull over for secondary inspection.
Lix, who said her father taught her about her Fourth Amendment rights, particularly with regard to searches by Border Patrol agents, told the agent that she was a U.S. citizen and refused to pull over for inspection. Instead, she repeatedly asked the agent, "Are you detaining me?" and told him that he did not have reasonable suspicion to search her vehicle.
Without citing a specific reason, the agent told her that he had the authority to search her vehicle, but she steadfastly refused. The standoff between Lix and the agent continued for more then 10 minutes until another agent who appeared to be a supervisor arrived and told her she could leave.
The video had been viewed nearly 95,000 times as of Oct. 10, less than three weeks after Lix uploaded it to YouTube. It's part of a growing genre of online videos depicting U.S. citizens refusing to cooperate with searches by Border Patrol agents at checkpoints. One montage titled "Top DHS checkpoint refusals" has been viewed more than 1.8 million times since it was posted to YouTube on Feb. 24. The question "Are you detaining me?" or variations of it, is a common feature of the videos.
The Border Patrol's search tactics are facing increased scrutiny from other sources as well. In a letter sent this week to the Department of Homeland Security, the ACLU demanded that complaints of alleged Fourth Amendment violations by Border Patrol agents be investigated and the results of those investigations made public.
The ACLU recently settled a lawsuit that challenged U.S. Customs and Border Protection's roving patrol practices in the state of Washington. Under the terms of the settlement, CBP agreed to provide more Fourth Amendment training to officers and to give patrol data to the ACLU for the next 18 months, according to the letter.
In Santa Cruz County, local defense attorneys say they frequently handle cases involving Border Patrol vehicle searches. While some searches result in agents finding drugs or contraband, others leave the agents empty-handed and a county resident feeling scared and angry.
However, Border Patrol agents face few consequences for searching an innocent person's vehicle, said Tom Fink, a Nogales-based defense attorney and former federal prosecutor.
"If there's no consequences for the wrong decision to search, then what are the checks and balances to make sure they are making honest, right decisions?" he said.
CBP's public affairs office is closed during the federal government shutdown, and email and phone requests for comment were not answered by press time on Thursday.
Messages left with the Border Patrol agents' union were also not immediately returned.
Location, cause and consent
The level of proof required to justify a law enforcement search changes depending on the location of the vehicle, lawyers say.
At U.S. ports of entry, federal courts have decided that customs officers have the right to search people trying to enter the country, said James Duff Lyall, a staff attorney with ACLU Arizona. However, the courts have not clearly stated whether searches of electronic devices are allowed.
At checkpoints, agents are allowed a visual inspection of a vehicle and to "quickly and unobtrusively" ask occupants about their legal status, Lyall said.
"Once they've answered questions about citizenship, that should be the end of it," he said.
In order to search the interior of a vehicle, agents need probable cause or consent, he said, adding "they regularly disregard that rule."
Both Fink and Matthew Davidson, another Nogales-based defense attorney, said they have won cases recently by arguing that searches were unwarranted.
Fink has contested searches in court on the grounds that agents decide to search vehicles without an "objectively verifiable" justification for the search, such as a license plate that belongs to a stolen vehicle, he said.
In many cases, the agents say the vehicle was riding low or a canine alerted to the vehicle, neither of which can be verified after the fact, Fink said. In those cases, he files a motion to suppress the evidence on the grounds that the agents did not have reasonable suspicion of illegal activity.
Fink knows first-hand what it's like to be searched by the Border Patrol. He refused to let a Border Patrol agent open his trunk at the I-19 checkpoint and was directed to secondary inspection. When he asked to speak to a supervisor, the agent said a canine had alerted to his vehicle, which Fink called a "total fabrication."
No contraband was found in his vehicle and he was sent on his way, he said.
Border Patrol agents frequently claim that a canine alerted to a vehicle, often without finding any contraband, Lyall said. When a canine is used to justify a search, drivers "should record it and report it," he said.
People going through a checkpoint have the right to videotape and record the encounter, Lyall said. Although Border Patrol agents reportedly have told drivers that they are not allowed to record the encounter, "there's absolutely no legal argument that people can't do that."
In addition, agents have reportedly told drivers that a refusal to consent to a search is justification for a search. "That's not how it works," Lyall said.
Fink agreed on that point, saying: "They can't use that. You have a legal, constitutional right to say, 'No, I don't consent.'"
Southbound inspections also create Fourth Amendment issues, Davidson said.
While widespread searches of people entering the country have been allowed on the grounds of national security, those searches have been extended to U.S. citizens being searched as they head to Mexico, he said.
"What about the freedom just to leave your own country?" Davidson asked. Southbound searches frequently occur "on no evidence or some sort of circumstantial evidence at best," he said.
In the past five years, Davidson said, he has handled three or four cases each year in which a southbound inspection resulted in CBP agents seizing money, sometimes as much as $5,000.
Federal law requires international travelers to declare more than $10,000, he said. However, if a person is carrying less than that amount, "Why do they have to explain to you where they got their money?" he asked.
In some cases, families decide that hiring a lawyer would cost more than the money they could recover, Davidson said.