The Excuse is Immigration, But Federal Checkpoints Violate Everyone’s Rights
Op-Ed By Joe Jarvis
Federal agents set up shop in New Hampshire last week. They ran a Constitutionally-illegal checkpoint, violating the Fourth Amendment rights of countless Americans.
The big reward? They arrested 25 illegal immigrants, seven of them children. More than half of those detained had overstayed visas. That means they came to the U.S. legally in the first place and did not leave when their visa expired.
What could have spurred this callous disregard for the law? Well, a personal anecdote could shed some light on the situation.
A friend of mine from Brazil had a six-month visiting visa to the United States. He would come and stay with his uncle who had permanent residency. The way the rules work, it that my friend could use the visa as often as he wanted to travel to the United States, but couldn’t stay for longer than the six month period.
It was literally completely legal for him to fly to Brazil, spend the night, and fly back to the United States the next day. Then he could stay for another 6 months.
Being a rule follower, he did what the law said and flew back to Brazil where he stayed for about four months. The ticket to get back to the U.S. cost about $1,000. But when he arrived, he was denied entry to the United States. He was sent back to Brazil, and his visa was suspended for five years.
Why did this happen? After all, he followed all the rules. Officials said if he was staying 6 months at a time, he must have been working. Yes, because he stayed within the legal limits of his visa, the federal officials surmised that he must have violated the conditions of his visa.
Perhaps this unpredictability of U.S. Customs creates an incentive to overstay visas. Maybe the $1,000 plane tickets make it tempting to overstay a visa. Because maybe even if you follow the rules, you will arbitrarily be denied anyway, wasting your time, burning your money, and being separated from the rest of your family still in the States. Speaking of family, maybe the fact that many of the detained immigrants have kids in school in the U.S. means it is a ridiculous burden to make them leave every six months.
Yes, they broke the law. They broke complicated and restrictive immigration laws.
But why is it so important to follow immigration laws, while immigration officials completely disregard the Fourth Amendment?
Great job! Agents enforced immigration law by breaking Constitutional law. They stopped every car on I-93, without suspicion or probable cause. Generally, occupants of the vehicles are asked whether or not they are an American citizen.
If they refuse to answer, exercising their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, that is considered evidence of a crime, and they are detained for further questioning and possible search. Exercising a right is used as evidence of a crime. That is the point we have gotten to in the U.S.A. police state.
Using these illegal stop and search tactics, police found evidence of other crimes as well, unrelated to immigration.
The checkpoint also resulted in the seizure of two pounds of marijuana, as well as smaller amounts of cocaine, mushrooms and hash oil, all of which were seized from U.S. citizens, according to the Woodstock Police Department. In addition to the immigration detentions, 32 arrests were made for a range of infractions.
So there you have it, Americans’ Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights were violated so that federal agents could prosecute victimless crimes. The only true victims in this whole checkpoint situation were all the people stopped by the agents.
Perhaps you aren’t concerned with the illegal immigrants’ treatment. What you should be concerned about is the convenient excuse increased immigration enforcement gives federal agents to trample your rights.
The harder they go after illegal immigrants, the more Americans will be ensnared, and have their rights violated. They will be stopped at checkpoints, subjected to illegal searches, and forced to be a witness against themselves.
This is how the government operates. Whether it is under the guise of a drug war, illegal immigration, or terrorism, their guns are truly only aimed at one target. The American people.
TLB recommends a visit to The Daily Bell for other pertinent articles.