Article Image

Border Patrol Forum On Washington State Checkpoints Draws Large Crowd

Written by Subject: Homeland Security

I've compiled several interesting news articles and YouTube videos regarding a public forum held on November 3, 2008 in Jefferson County, Washington below.

The forum was prompted by widespread concern in Jefferson County regarding the use of suspicionless checkpoints by Border Patrol agents operating no where near the border. The forum consisted of Blaine Sector Border Patrol Chief John Bates and sector mouthpiece Michael Bermudez along with local law enforcement officials and two immigration defense attorneys.

Over 400 local residents attended the forum and from the sound of things, very few were satisfied with the answers to their questions. Of particular note was the refusal of the Jefferson County Sheriff to assist the Border Patrol with identifying or charging individuals who refuse to provide ID or respond to investigatory questions posed to them by agents at such roadblocks:

U.S. Border Patrol Chief John Bates -- who is the chief patrol agent for the Blaine Sector, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula -- was asked by one person in the audience that was crammed into the Chimacum High School auditorium what would happen if a driver refused to give identification to a federal agent at a roadblock.

Bates said he would have to involve the Sheriff's Office.

Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Brasfield said his office would not respond.

"I'm sorry, but we would not get involved," Brasfield said to Bates.

"We do not have any rights to issue an infraction in that situation."

Given that a local tribal officer recently colluded with Border Patrol agents to cite me for a civil infraction of impeding traffic while I was being seized at such a checkpoint, I find the above exchange quite interesting.

I also note that one of the defense attorney's misspoke when he stated Border Patrol agents need reasonable suspicion to search individuals away from the border. This is false given that the Supreme Court in U.S. v Martinez-Fuerte ruled agents need probable cause or consent to conduct searches at checkpoints away from the border or its functional equivalent.

I've previously blogged about the Border Patrol buildup in Washington state here and here. I've also documented my own experiences at such checkpoints in Southern Arizona here and elsewhere in this blog. As reported here, the ACLU has also entered the fray regarding these gross violations of our 4th amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

Many thanks to those that have provided me with links and feedback regarding the Border Patrol buildup in Washington State.

Below you'll find the news articles and YouTube videos I referenced earlier:
 

Nearly 400 attend Border Patrol forum

By Erik Hidle
Peninsula Daily News

CHIMACUM -- A group of nearly 400 North Olympic Peninsula residents learned Monday night that the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office will not get involved if they refuse to show their identification to Border Patrol agents

U.S. Border Patrol Chief John Bates -- who is the chief patrol agent for the Blaine Sector, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula -- was asked by one person in the audience that was crammed into the Chimacum High School auditorium what would happen if a driver refused to give identification to a federal agent at a roadblock.

Bates said he would have to involve the Sheriff's Office.

Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Brasfield said his office would not respond.

"I'm sorry, but we would not get involved," Brasfield said to Bates.

"We do not have any rights to issue an infraction in that situation."

The standing room only crowd erupted into a round of applause.

It would not be the last time they would give such an ovation.

Prompted by concerns

The forum was prompted by concerns about stepped-up Border Patrol presence on the North Olympic Peninsula.

The number of Border Patrol agents active throughout the North Olympic Peninsula has grown from four stationed in Port Angeles only two years ago to 24 now.

Border Patrol roadblocks on U.S. Highway 101 north of Forks and on state Highway 104 near the Hood Canal Bridge have netted some 25 arrests since they were stepped up this summer, according to Border Patrol reports.

Most of those arrested were illegal immigrants, Border Patrol agents have said, although some citizens with outstanding arrest warrants also were detained.

The forum was created as a way for Border Patrol agents to introduce themselves to the community, for local law enforcement officers to explain their stance on how much they work with federal officers and for lawyers to explain legal points.

Brasfield and Port Townsend Police Chief Conner Daily were both praised by the crowd for their stances that their departments work separately from the Border Patrol.

Brasfield said the agencies in the area would work together but would not become involved in Border Patrol arrests or enforcement activities.

"We would certainly respond if there were an emergency or to help with officer safety," Brasfield said.

"But I don't want to see the Jefferson County Sheriff involved in [roadblock] instances.

"We are a local law enforcement agency," Brasfield said.

"We're not federal agents, and we don't have the time, the men or the resources to [enforce federal law]."

Port Townsend policy

Daily then outlined the city's policy on dealing with border patrol.

• No Port Townsend police officer will take over or participate in a pursuit originating from a Border Patrol roadblock.

• No officer will participate in a Border Patrol roadblock

• The department will back up Border Patrol officers to ensure safety but will not make any arrest based on probable cause, as determined by the federal agency.

• The city will not become responsible for vehicles left behind as a result of a Border Patrol arrest.

• No city police officer will assist in a Border Patrol investigation without the approval of a supervisor.

• If translation is needed during routine contact with a civilian, a member from a list of community volunteers is to be contacted first. Border Patrol translators are to be used only as a last resort.

Both Brasfield and Daily said their primary goal is to enforce the laws of the state and the city.

A "border exception" clause in the Fourth Amendment allows federal agents to conduct searches within 100 miles of the U.S. border without probable cause or a warrant, said two Seattle-based lawyers: Ann Benson, with the Washington Defenders' Association Immigration Project, and Shankar Narayan of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Definition vague

While the agent must have proof of reasonable suspicion, both lawyers said that definition is vague.

"They need reasonable suspicion to search you and probably cause to arrest you," Benson said. "That means more than just a hunch.

"What we recommend is that you don't answer any questions that they ask you, keep your documents on you, don't sign anything and don't lie.

"Most people are deported because they willingly disclose information, and it is difficult to exercise your rights."

Narayan said that constitutional rights are at stake.

"I don't want to take anything away from [the Border Patrol agents] as they protect our borders, but we too should protect our constitution."

Noting that the North Olympic Peninsula was likely a very poor route to use in order to reach the interior of the United States, Narayan encouraged people to phone their state and national representatives and ask the question, "Do we really need 25 Customs and Border Patrol Agents here?"

Bates said 25 agents is exactly what the Peninsula needs right now.

Bates cited the 1999 Port Angeles arrest of Ahmed Ressam, known as the millennium bomber, who was convicted of carrying explosives into the United States from Canada to bomb Los Angeles International Airport.

"The reality is that there are threats against the United States," he said.

"We are trying to find the right mix of technology and agents to push the threats back."

Bates said he did not know if additional agents would be added in the Peninsula, but referred to a homeland security base for air and water protection along the saltwater border between the U.S. and Canada that will be based in Port Angeles.

New substation

The new substation for Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Services will patrol the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the air and water's surface.

"The purpose of the building is to house the agents, and it will not be used as a detention facility," Bates said.

"Right now, we are moving agents all over, and the number I have right now is absolutely essential.

"We will be adding marine elements and air units. There is no land crossing here so the checkpoints [along Highway 101 and 104] are what we can use right now."

Detaining terrorists and illegal immigrants are two of the five objectives of the Border Patrol, spokesman Michael Bermudez has said.

The other three are to apprehend and deter smugglers of humans, drugs and other contraband; use smart border technology, like global positioning devices, expanded communications, underground sensors, remote video surveillance systems; and to reduce crime in border communities.

 

Local police draw line with Border Patrol

By Barney Burke, Leader Staff Writer

People with concerns about the increased presence of the U.S. Border Patrol on the Olympic Peninsula didn't mince words when they asked questions of Border Patrol agents at a forum Monday night in Chimacum.

The Nov. 3 panel included local law enforcement officials and two defense attorneys involved with immigration issues.

"We need to listen, we need to work together," said John Bates, Blaine chief patrol agent for the Border Patrol.

Bates described how his agency's local staff has increased from four agents in 2000 to 25 today. "The numbers that I have now are absolutely essential," he said.

The Border Patrol is building a new facility in Port Angeles, but it will not include a detention facility, Bates said. As the Border Patrol adds airborne and marine resources, "the need for checkpoints would lessen," Bates said in response to audience questions.

Michael Bermudez, a supervising Border Patrol agent, said, "Tactical traffic checkpoints are only one element of keeping our borders safe."

Bermudez noted that the Border Patrol works with other federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives, as well as local drug interdiction efforts such as OPNET, the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Task Force, which includes local agencies.

"As they are protecting our borders, we should also be protecting our Constitution," said Shankar Narayan, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington.

He called the Border Patrol's practice of conducting checkpoints anywhere within 100 miles of U.S. borders the "Constitution-free zone." In effect, the Border Patrol's checkpoints encompass two-thirds of the U.S. population and nine of the 10 most populous areas, Narayan said.

"Government agencies are accountable to you," said Narayan. "Do we really need 45 Customs and Border Patrol agents?"

Ann Benson, directing attorney for the Washington Defenders' Association Immigration Project, gave an overview of immigration trends. "You'll be stunned to see what's happening," she said of federal detention centers like the one in Tacoma, which is to be expanded from 1,000 beds to 1,500.

Until 1996, most undocumented people here were from Canada, Benson said. But two years after NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) was ratified, Canada was eclipsed by Mexico.

And while Chief Bates characterized Olympic Peninsula traffic checkpoints as "permanent," Benson said they are "random." Only permanent checkpoints, not random checkpoints, have been upheld in court, she argued.

Benson and Narayan said that no case involving checkpoints like those on the Olympic Peninsula has been fully tested in federal court.

Questions

Asked if the traffic checkpoints had resulted in any major drug busts, Bates said, "We have not made a major seizure of narcotics." However, he stressed that there is a lot of gun and drug smuggling through Washington as well as trafficking of indentured servants from other countries.

Fifteen undocumented immigrants have been taken into custody at checkpoints here, Bates said. Six were from Guatemala and nine from Mexico.

Seven people have been arrested on drug charges, Bates said, and no one has been arrested for terrorism.

Chimacum farmer Roger Short told of an employee who had to go to Jefferson County District Court for a traffic ticket and was questioned by a Border Patrol agent in a Courthouse hallway. "I thought the Border Patrol was going too far," Short said to applause.

"The only way to determine if [someone] is legally here or not is to ask questions," said Bates. "We don't target specific groups."

Port Townsend Mayor Michelle Sandoval relayed concerns she's heard from city residents who say they have been stopped by Border Patrol agents and even followed to their places of work.

"We do do that," Bates said, noting that it is legal for agents to ask people questions. If someone doesn't have an ID, Bates said, the "penalty" is that "we spend more time talking."

"Once we determine the situation does not require further investigation, we release them," said Bates. "It's been tested all the way to the Supreme Court."

Benson, the defense attorney, agreed that Washington drivers - but not passengers - must show ID if asked. But she stressed that the U.S. Constitution protects citizens and non-citizens alike.

"Odds are, you will get arrested," said Benson of the situation undocumented immigrants often face.

The forum was hosted by the League of Women Voters, American Association of University Women, Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader, Port Townsend Peace Movement, and City of Port Townsend.
-----------------------------
If you're stopped at a checkpoint: You have the right to remain silent, attorneys say

Although it's not uncommon to hear of undocumented aliens being incarcerated, "it's not a crime, it's a civil violation," said Ann Benson, directing attorney for the Washington Defenders' Association Immigration Project.

Immigration law is as complex as tax law, she said, and people frequently don't know even the fundamental rules.

People accused of violating immigration laws have the right to an attorney and a hearing before a judge, but they must pay for their own attorney, she said.

"The Border Patrol can approach you and ask questions," said Benson, but "people don't understand the right to remain silent."

The Fifth Amendment, protecting against self-incrimination, applies to citizens and non-citizens alike. However, Miranda warnings - "you have the right to remain silent" - are not required in immigration cases, she said.

If you get stopped at a traffic checkpoint, Benson advises:

1. Don't answer questions.
2. Show and carry your identification.
3. Don't sign anything.
4. Don't lie.
5. Insist on talking to a lawyer.

According to Port Townsend Police Chief Conner Daily, Washington's law pertaining to "notices of infraction," such as speeding tickets, has been revised. A driver no longer has to sign non-criminal citations.


Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 1):

Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 2):



Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 3):


Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 4):

Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 5):

Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 6):

Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 7):

Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 8):

Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 9):

Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 10):

Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 11):

Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 12):

Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 13):

Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 14):

Jefferson County, Washington - Border Patrol Forum (part 15):

 

Join us on our Social Networks:

 

Share this page with your friends on your favorite social network:

http://freedomsphoenix.thinkpenguin.com/