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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Time to check our use of border checkpoints

    Recently, the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Ajo, Ariz., was closed due to a lack of agents available to staff it. According to officials, the Border Patrol is not understaffed. Rather, resources are limited, and this is their way of prioritizing. Nicole Ballistrea of the Tucson sector said the decision was based on “where it’s operationally necessary and where needs dictate.”

    So not having enough agents is not understaffing, just prioritization. I am so convinced.

    The Ajo checkpoint is one of 11 checkpoints in Southern Arizona. U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Vic Brabble said all checkpoints are temporary and can be moved within 24 hours based on operational needs. Even when checkpoints are closed, CBP can deploy agents to specific areas, if necessary.

    As someone who has lived on the Southern Arizona border my entire life, I have constantly had to go through these checkpoints. Though their purpose is to stop people from entering the country illegally and contraband from entering the country from Mexico, I am not convinced of their efficacy or their constitutionality.

    One does not need to be a constitutional scholar to be a little leery of these checkpoints. One needs only look at the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” Slowing down to 25 miles per hour to remind myself and some stranger that I am a U.S. citizen is a waste of both our time and, yes, is unreasonable.

    These checkpoints are not just located along the U.S.-Mexico border. They form a 100-mile-long border within American land and coastal borders. Nearly 200 million people live in areas where such checkpoints exist, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU is one of the most outspoken of the many nonprofit organizations that routinely speak out on issues related to the Border Patrol checkpoints.

    In a recent letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials regarding the ACLU’s concerns with Border Patrol checkpoints, Arizona ACLU Staff Attorney James Lyall wrote, “Border Patrol checkpoints have profoundly negative impacts on border communities. Recently, residents of Arivaca, Arizona began petitioning for the removal of one of three local checkpoints that surround their town, citing ongoing rights violations and harassment as well as harm to property values, tourism and quality of life resulting from checkpoint operations.”

    While I am all for border security, resources and efforts need to be focused on the border before criminals and criminal activity creeps into the interior of the country. It would be best if the Border Patrol would redirect its efforts away from patrolling the interior of this country and toward the border itself. Stopping travelers and residents who happen to be traveling through this 100-mile zone, including here in Southern Arizona, is not the way to go. It’s simply ineffective.

    And, remember — unconstitutional.

    Immigration reform is more than creating a pathway to citizenship or building new fences along the border. It is also about removing the inefficiencies that exist in the way we govern our borders. Hopefully, whenever the federal government decides to (finally) reform our country’s immigration system, we’ll decide to “prioritize” things other than road checkpoints.


    Casey Hoyack is a politics, philosophy, economics and law senior. Follow him on Twitter.

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