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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Tucson organizations boycott border patrol checkpoints

Activists set up “border reality checkpoints” in downtown Tucson Wednesday morning as a part of a regional protest against U.S. Border Patrol tactics.

About 20 volunteers from Border Action Network and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona carried signs and walked in groups around downtown and Armory Park to inform people of their rights at Border Patrol checkpoints, said Juanita Molina, executive director of BAN. Other demonstrations occurred in Arivaca near a U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint and across the border region in California, New Mexico and Texas.

Volunteers held signs saying, “Report abuse,” and, “Border reality checkpoint,” and wore gray shirts saying, “Know your rights.” They also passed out fliers with information about the limits of Border Patrol powers at checkpoints and other civil rights.

Manuel Natera, a volunteer with BAN, said he was there to try to make people aware of Border Patrol abuse and how to go about reporting it.

“It seems that abuse is increasing across the border and I’m interested in not letting any of this happen to people who might unaware,” Natera said.

James Lyall, a border litigation staff attorney with the ACLU of Arizona, said the demonstrations across the border region were meant to play off the Border Patrol checkpoints by creating “know your rights” checkpoints.

“Immigration checkpoints we feel are not consistent with living in a free society,” Lyall said. “You shouldn’t have to stop at a checkpoint and answer questions from armed federal agents to go about your business.”

The ACLU of Arizona receives almost daily complaints from border residents whose rights have been violated at these interior immigration checkpoints, Lyall said. He said the complaints include prolonged detentions, searches without consent and, sometimes, verbal and physical abuse by Border Patrol agents.

Lyall also criticized the lack of oversight and accountability with Border Patrol to address potential abuses.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of Border Patrol, has maintained that the checkpoints are legal and agents have broad powers to question and detain.

Molina said the checkpoints, which are set up near the U.S.-Mexico border, are not themselves illegal, but the Border Patrol is its power in the way it uses them.

“Really [the Border Patrol’s] primary purpose in those areas is to be able to just establish residency and move on,” Molina said, “but we find a series of questions, anything from medication to where you’re going.”

Molina said the question becomes whether or not the checkpoints are a proportional response to the level of risk potentially coming up on those roads near the border.

“More than anything else we’ve seen [impediments] in our freedom of movement as a community,” Molina said.

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