Permanent and tactically-located checkpoints exist throughout the US. The Border Patrol operates. Legally, they can stop motorists and ask them to verify their residence status. Even though the exact number of Border Patrol Checkpoints isn’t known, at least 21,000 agents man 170 checkpoints today.
Originally, the Congress decree was that these checkpoints could be located at a reasonable distance away from the border – i.e., 100 air miles. Even so, two-thirds of the US population living in ten states come in regular contact with them.
Since the agency tasked with guarding US borders is the CBP, the ICE agents do not have any authority over these locations. The latter’s job is to investigate and deport undocumented people. So far, there are no ICE Checkpoints.
What Is the Purpose of a Border Patrol Checkpoint?
Being the third layer of the CBP’s Border Checkpoints defense strategy, the agents there may stop vehicles and question the passengers briefly. Additionally, they also prevent illegal entry into the US. Aside from that, these points are often instrumental in the detection of drugs.
What’s It like Passing through a Checkpoint
When you reach one of these Border Patrol Checkpoint Locations, the officers there can ask you questions – mostly about your immigration status. However, the session should be brief and can include a visual vehicle inspection.
Often, the agents will send you on to secondary inspection areas where you may undergo further questioning. Again, the session should be brief and connected to your legal status. Fleeing from US Border Patrol Checkpoint is a felony – so never do that. And while, these encounters can be scary, do your best to maintain a calm and courteous front in your dealings with immigration officials.
Do I Have To Show Documentation?
Legally, you aren’t required to show any documentation at the CBP Checkpoints. However, we recommend the following groups of people have these handy:
- LPRs – green card, state-issued ID, and passport
- Foreign nationals entering the US – passport and visa
- Temporary but lawfully present visitors and nonimmigrants – passport, I-94, EAD, and state-issued ID
- DACA and TPS status recipients, those whose VAWA/asylum applications/U-visas are pending – Passports, EAD, receipt of proof of pending
- Those whose cases pending before the USCIS – Passport copy and receipt of proof of pending
- Those without an I-94 Record/EAD/1-797/driver’s license – birth certificate copy, document authorizing their presence in the US, and photo identity document
In brief, unless you’re a citizen or aren’t 18 years old, you must have valid immigration documents on you. Additionally, show them the proof, or you may be arrested later on. For those, who don’t possess the documents but still are an immigrant, you can decline the officer’s request. On denial, you will face more questions. In either case, don’t risk showing false documents to the immigration officials.
Benefits of Immigration Checkpoints
There are many benefits associated with the CBP Checkpoints. For instance, the ones found in the southwest sectors apprehended 8 percent of illegal aliens in 2004. They also seized about 31 and 74 percent of marijuana and cocaine.
Other benefits – even if they’re less quantifiable – include crime, vandalism, and smuggling reductions.
Major Changes since 2008
Mostly, the events of September 11 led to the formation of the CBP. A year and a half later, the Customs Service and Border Patrol were merged into the CPB agency by the Bush administration. They are led by the Department of Homeland Security. Soon, the CPB began counting 44,000 agents amongst their ranks — 23,000 of them are customs officers and the rest are Border Patrol agents. They interact with 27 million people on an annual basis.
Criticisms of Immigration Checkpoints
Several reasons for the criticisms that are pointed at these checkpoints exist. Firstly, because of the following practices:
- Extended detentions
- Invasive searches
- Non-citizenship-related interrogations
- Racial profiling
- Verbal/physical harassment/assault
- False accusations of drugs/contrabands smuggling after exposure to drug-sniffing canines
Secondly, the Border Patrol agents often cross the 100 mile zone and carry out their activities deep within the country.
Know Your Rights at Border Patrol Checkpoints
You can choose to refrain from giving answers about your immigration status or only do so if your attorney is present. The agents may detain you, but they cannot consider your refusal as probable cause/reasonable suspicion to arrest/search/detain you. However, nonimmigrants open themselves to arrest later if they do so.
The agents on duty must inform you of the basis of their reasonable suspicion. However, the said basis should be factual proof of your wrongdoing. Other than that, you may also say no to a search whether they provide a reason or not. And neither staying silent nor your race/ethnicity can become the agents’ reason for searching or detaining or arresting you.
Another important factor for you to keep in mind is that if you came in sans an immigration-official inspection, you might face expedited removal. That means the agent can bypass taking you to an immigration judge and deport you directly. Even so, according to the mandates of the federal government, you’re only eligible for expedited removal if:
- You entered the United States just two weeks from then or earlier
- The immigration officer finds you within 100 miles of the border
- Fulfill certain other criteria – an attorney can help you find where you fit!
Contact Attorney Eric Price Today!
Many cases are surfacing, where citizens and non-citizens alike have their rights violated by the CPB. If that’s you, contact LA’s best immigration lawyer immediately. Forced searches, for instance, can draw up large hospital bills that you must pay. Therefore, you must seek representation to prevent that from happening. Likewise, claiming unfair expedited removal proceedings means knowing the grounds for the right ones. Also, not returning to your country due to fear of persecution can keep you from being deported. In all such situations, legally proficient help can make a huge difference. So, don’t risk it; call us!