Monday, February 2, 2015



Note: Video at link

Comment: We most likely not seeing all of the story, but several problems / issues here.

a. One problem is many agents are now from the east and north. When BP agents were mostly from the SouthWest, not so many problems such as Ms Weaver faced.

b. Another aspect of the "gun" problem: For those of us who live on or near the border. Most of us have firearms, and we keep them with us. It is totally legal in AZ, NM, and TX to keep and bear arms. Would suggest the city types from the east get mandatory training on SW customs and culture.

c. Another problem: "But in at least five border counties in Texas and Arizona, county prosecutors have declined in recent years to prosecute the flood of minor violations Border Patrol agents turn up at checkpoints". We know which counties.

d. Beyond the policy issues of some of the politicians of "c", another major problem: Border states and counties bear much of the burden for border related law enforcement, way too much of it not reimbursed by the federal government.

e. Most of us on the border know the dogs can alert when wanted. Not always a bad thing but can be abused.

Teacher with legal guns triggers CBP checkpoint incident
Gil Kerlikowske - Border checkpoints
Bob Ortega, The Republic | 9:41 p.m. MST January 30, 2015

Jennifer Weaver
(Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Weaver)

Chief of Customs and Border Protection calls Border Patrol interior checkpoints valuable, necessary
Border residents, rights' groups allege harassment, question legality of Border Patrol checkpoints
Teacher says her stop turned ugly after she told agents she had two pistols, which were legal

Jennifer Weaver was surprised late last month when the Border Patrol agent at the checkpoint on U.S. 67 south of Marfa, Texas, told her that his dog had "alerted" on her pickup truck.

"I knew there was nothing in my truck of interest to anyone," said Weaver, a schoolteacher. She pulled over. She answered the agent's questions. But when she replied that, yes, she had weapons — two pistols in her glove compartment, for which she had a concealed-handgun license in her purse — the stop turned ugly, she said.

Agents ordered her out of her truck. They forced her to the ground. They held her for an hour, running gun checks and repeatedly searching her vehicle, before telling her she was free to leave, she said.

Two weeks later, it happened again. This time, Weaver said in an account disputed by the Border Patrol, an agent threatened to shoot her if she moved as they pulled her out of her truck.

What happened next to Weaver would not be an isolated incident.

Complaints about checkpoints

The Border Patrol operates scores of permanent and temporary checkpoints on major roads and highways up to 100 miles from the southern and northern U.S. borders. Ostensibly, these checkpoints are meant primarily to check the immigration status of those who pass through them.

But critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, charge that the checkpoints have become an invasive catch-all for general law enforcement, and that they subject residents who pass through them to harassment and unconstitutional search and seizure. Even Customs and Border Protection leaders have raised questions about the checkpoints.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Gil KerlikowskeU.S. Customs and Border Protection Gil Kerlikowske spoke to The Arizona Republic on Jan. 26, 2015, in Phoenix. "We have developed an outreach plan with the State Department and the three Central American countries, with a two-part message: One, it's very dangerous to come. Two, if you do come, you will not be given sanctuary. You'll be detained and you will not be allowed to stay," Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said.

CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, in an interview this week with The Arizona Republic, defended the checkpoints as valuable, though he said he, too, has had questions about them.

Checkpoint encounters can be deadly: On several occasions, agents have been shot at or driven at. And three people have been killed after running through Border Patrol interior checkpoints in the past three years.

In the most recent incident, Jan. 22, Border Patrol agents shot to death a man the FBI identified as Tiano Meton, 25, after he allegedly failed to stop at a checkpoint on Interstate 10 near Sierra Blanca, Texas.

Meton, whose nationality has not been released, drove 30 miles past the checkpoint before stopping, according to a CBP news release. One of four agents approaching the vehicle yelled "gun!" and two agents opened fire. They recovered a pellet pistol, the agency said.

The FBI's El Paso office said its investigation continues.

At many major checkpoints, such as one operating on Interstate 19 between Nogales and Tucson, agents regularly seize large quantities of drugs. But in at least five border counties in Texas and Arizona, county prosecutors have declined in recent years to prosecute the flood of minor violations Border Patrol agents turn up at checkpoints.

For its part, the Border Patrol only started systematically collecting and analyzing checkpoint-specific data this fiscal year and has not released such data to the public.

The ACLU has filed complaints about the checkpoints with the Border Patrol's parent agency, CBP, and with the Department of Homeland Security; it is one of several organizations and individuals suing CBP over ­alleged rights violations at various checkpoints.

The checkpoints have spawned a YouTube category of people who post videos of themselves refusing to answer agents' questions.

CBP's Kerlikowske, in his interview with The Republic, said he understands the concerns people are raising.

"When I took this job in March" of last year, he said, "I did not know much about checkpoints. And frankly, I'll tell you, I was a little curious as to, OK, how far away from the border are they? And why are they there? And are we really getting much benefit from them? And I heard complaints. … I have looked at this, and I am continuing to look at this much more in depth."

But Kerlikowske also said he doesn't see any need to change how the checkpoints operate.

"We have not done a particularly good job at the checkpoints in several places. One is explaining to people … that these are valuable, these can be quite helpful. We rescue people at these checkpoints. We seize drugs at these checkpoints, and we make arrests of people who are wanted on warrants."

In a 1976 ruling, U.S. vs. Martinez-Fuentes, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Border Patrol's authority to operate checkpoints away from the border to verify residency status. But the court said questions at interior checkpoints must be brief, minimally intrusive and focused on immigration status. Any "further detention ... must be based on consent or probable cause."

In practice, however, probable cause can be a fuzzy standard, said James Duff Lyall, an ACLU attorney in Tucson who is representing residents of Arivaca who allege harassment by Border Patrol agents at a checkpoint outside that community, south of Tucson, and who say their complaints have gotten little or no response.

"I get checkpoint- ­related complaints on a regular basis," Lyall said. But, he added, "as long as they say their primary purpose is immigration-related, it's hard to challenge — even if it is mostly about drugs."

Kerlikowske all but acknowledged as much in his interview. Asked whether the scope of the checkpoints has broadened far beyond what the court envisioned in the Martinez-Fuentes case, he said, "There are a number of cases that have been filed regarding the checkpoints, and I think it depends on where these cases go and at what level within the court system they'll actually be settled. But things are very different, too, in many ways," than in 1976, he said, reiterating that the checkpoints "are very helpful."

The use of interior checkpoints expanded dramatically after 9/11. The Border Patrol acknowledges operating 35 "permanent" checkpoints but declines to specify how many "tactical," nominally temporary checkpoints it runs. Agency documents obtained by The Republic through Freedom of Information Act requests indicate a capacity to operate up to 200 checkpoints.

Feeling targeted

Weaver, the teacher, who has to use a walker because of severe injuries from a car accident, said the second time she was stopped by the Border Patrol, she was on her way to visit her dog at an animal hospital, where it was ­being treated after a run-in with a porcupine.

She said she tried to explain to the agents who ordered her out that she couldn't stand or walk without her walker, which was in the bed of her truck. After being wrestled out of the car, searched and held again, she said the agents told her their dog had "alerted" to a bottle of prescription painkillers.

When she complained to the agent in charge of the Marfa Border Patrol station, she says she was told that if she carries her prescription medication with her, she can expect to be searched again.

Bill Brooks, spokesman for the Border ­Patrol's Big Bend ( Texas) Sector, responded, "We're satisfied that our agents operated properly. They were courteous to her; they provided her with the information she needed to file a complaint. There wasn't anything done by our agents that was out of line."

Weaver said she feels targeted for carrying a gun and for filing a complaint. "I've never been arrested in my life," she said. "I filed a complaint, but they don't promise any remedy. I feel they just treat everybody like a criminal."


Minuteman member sentenced for pointing rifle at MCSO deputy
Posted: Jan 30, 2015 4:33 PM MST
Updated: Jan 30, 2015 4:40 PM MST
By Jennifer Thomas
Posted by Catherine Holland
Richard Malley (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

A member of the Arizona Minuteman border-watch movement has been sentenced to six months in jail for pointing a rifle at a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy who he mistook for a drug smuggler.

Richard Malley, 50, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault after the 2013 incident along Interstate 8 near Gila Bend and later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

Malley also received 18 months of supervised probation when he was sentenced Friday.

According to court documents, Malley and two other group members were out looking for illegal activity when two deputies checking areas frequently used in drug trafficking approached in a vehicle.

The deputies then began searching on foot.

Malley pointed a rifle at one of the deputies and aimed a flashlight at his face, according to the documents. The deputy identified himself, but Malley did not put down his weapon.

Malley identified himself as a militia Minuteman.

The deputy showed Malley his badge, the patches on his sleeves and the word "Sheriff" across his chest then told him to surrender his firearms, but he refused, according to court records.

Malley was taken into custody after more deputies responded to the scene.

Malley said he was in fear for his life because he was in the middle of the desert and felt that the deputy was a drug smuggler working for a cartel. According to the court documents, Malley said he felt he had the right to point his rifle because he had reasonable suspicion to believe a crime was occurring.

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