Time to rein-in the Border Patrol
The U.S. Border Patrol has long been a problematic agency. It’s big, powerful, and has the authority to stop and question people far from any U.S. border. Just how extensive is the Border Patrol’s power to stop and search for illegal entrants to the U.S.?
As David Hamburger writes, enough to give tens of millions of American citizens reason to be very concerned:
At dozens of internal checkpoints across the country, Border Patrol agents stop and question passing motorists on their citizenship. Elsewhere, officers engage in roving traffic stops aimed at interdicting illegal immigration inside the United States. Agents at checkpoints require neither a warrant nor individualized suspicion to stop passing motorists and inquire about the occupants’ citizenship, or to inspect private lands within twenty-five miles of the border. Taken together, these “defense in depth” measures amount to an extraordinarily expansive law enforcement effort carried deep into the U.S. interior.
The problem is, these checkpoints are less about catching illegals than they are fishing expeditions:
…while DHS continues to assert that checkpoints are a valuable tool in immigration enforcement, the evidence strongly indicates otherwise. A 2017 Government Accountability Office audit of Border Patrol checkpoints between 2013 and 2016 found that 58% of all checkpoint seizures were of marijuana from US citizens. Of those seizures, 69%—or 40% of all checkpoint seizures—were for quantities of one ounce or less. Despite their putative value in intercepting illegal immigration, checkpoints accounted for only 2% of all apprehensions of individuals classified by federal authorities as illegal aliens. In congressional testimony in 2016, then-Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan offered similar figures.
So much for state-level laws legalizing marijuana. And so much for the idea these warrantless stops are designed to catch people sneaking into the country. They are really just an arm of the nation’s longest and most civil liberty-destroying war – the war on drugs.
Time to scale back the Border Patrol’s reach, as this bill proposes to do, and then go a step further and bring a quick end to the drug war.