Know your rights: Border Patrol
Border Patrol cannot search the interior of a vehicle without the owner’s consent or “probable cause” (a reasonable belief, based on the circumstances, that an immigration violation or crime has likely occurred).
• Agents can obtain probable cause for a search if a drug-sniffing dog legitimately “alerts” to the presence of drugs. If Border Patrol uses a drug-sniffing dog and falsely claims the dog has alerted to the presence of drugs or contraband in your vehicle, record as much information about the incident as possible and report it.
Border Patrol may stop vehicles at certain checkpoints to: (1) ask a few, limited questions to verify citizenship of the vehicles’ occupants and (2) visually inspect the exterior of a vehicle.
Agents may send any vehicle to a secondary inspection area for the same purpose: brief questioning and visual inspection.
Agents should not ask questions unrelated to verifying citizenship, nor can they hold you for an extended time without cause.
Even though you always have the right to remain silent, if you don’t answer questions to establish your citizenship, officials may detain you longer in order to verify your immigration status.
Searches of Electronic Devices
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that Homeland Security border agents must have reasonable suspicion before they can legally conduct a forensics search of laptops, mobile phones, camera memory cards, and other electronic devices.
Unfortunately, this limited ruling still permits agents to conduct a “quick look” laptop search, such as asking you to turn on your laptop to peek at open windows. So always password protect your files before crossing the border. And, of course, never voluntarily give agents your password.
Checkpoints Near the Border
Be aware that DHS agents have recently set up constitutionally-questionable “security checkpoints” up to 100 miles inside U.S. territory. If you should drive into one of these roadblocks, you are not required to answer the agent’s questions (usually starting with “Are you a United States citizen?”). Nor are you required to consent to any searches.
Visit www.checkpointusa.org/blog to learn more about this program and check out the video below. By actively “flexing” their rights, these brave citizens expose the techniques DHS agents (and police in general) use to trick and intimidate citizens into compliance. Also take note of the practical necessity of flexing your rights repeatedly.
Source: ACLU and FlexYourRights
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Should We Trust Police Officers?
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