Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Immigration Patrolling Northern Border

In talking with people from Latin American about the US' immigration laws, I like to note that people residing in the US - even in Arizona - are subject to less stringent immigration checks than occur in the countries that send droves of immigrants to the US. Never in the US, I like to point out, will police knock on doors in hotels to ask for proof I'm in the country legally (as has happened to me in Honduras).

Or so I thought. The New York Times reports today on the federal government's expanded use of border and documents checks along the areas near the Canadian border. Government agents are more regularly boarding public transit, including trains, and asking passengers to prevent proof of their legal status.

The catch, which the agents are unlikely to point out, is that passengers have no legal obligation to provide such proof. As the Times story points out:
"Legal scholars say the government’s border authority, which extends to fixed checkpoints intercepting cross-border traffic, cannot be broadly applied to roving patrols in a swath of territory. But such authority is not needed to ask questions if people can refuse to answer."
The government defends the practice as a vital part of its national security and immigration strategy, but several critics say the practices are another example of the government overreaching its authority.

Image Source: New York Times ("Border Patrol agents in the north routinely board Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains to check the immigration status of riders.")
Online Sources: Fox News, New York Times


Anonymous said...

from de Clermont - officials in trains or public places asking for IDs and proof of nationality or travel documents were typical in Western Europe until the EU fully formed. I do not see a problem with it.

Scott B. Andrews said...

Could someone please tell me what the rationale is for this disconnected federal governments push to control our northern borders? In shear numbers isn't it our southern borders that command the greater numbers of illegals? I was dumbfounded recently when Pres. Obama made the statement ... we are now checking 100% of our southbound trains. What planet is this president living on?