20 February 2013

The "Constitution-free zone" of the United States

I first saw this map in 2008 at Wired
After 9/11, Congress gave the Department of Homeland Security the right to use some of its powers deeper within the country, and now DHS has set up at least 33 internal checkpoints where they stop people, question them and ask them to prove citizenship, according to the ACLU...

DHS spokesman Jason Ciliberti says the ACLU’s description of the zone as "Constitution-Free" couldn’t be further from the truth and that the check points follow rules set by Supreme Court rulings. "We don’t have the ability to just set up checkpoints willy-nilly," Ciliberti said. "The Supreme Court has determined that brief investigative encontuers do not constitute a search or seizure."

When citizens or visa holders encounter a checkpoint, most are waived on after showing identification, but if an agent suspects the person is not lawfully in the country, the agent can detain the person until the agent’s investigation is satisfied. The government has long had the power to set up such check points, but has recently expanded the number of permanent and ‘tactical’ check points and deployed them in areas they hadn’t before — such as near the Canadian border. 
It was posted again this week at Computerworld, so apparently not much has changed in the past five years.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have a “longstanding constitutional and statutory authority permitting suspicionless and warrantless searches of merchandise at the border and its functional equivalent.” This applies to electronic devices, according to the recent CLCR “Border Searches of Electronic Devices” executive summary:
Fourth Amendment
The overall authority to conduct border searches without suspicion or warrant is clear and longstanding, and courts have not treated searches of electronic devices any differently than searches of other objects.  We conclude that CBP’s and ICE’s current border search policies comply with the Fourth Amendment.  We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits.  However, we do think that recording more information about why searches are performed would help managers and leadership supervise the use of border search authority, and this is what we recommended; CBP has agreed and has implemented this change beginning in FY2012.
First Amendment
Some critics argue that a heightened level of suspicion should be required before officers search laptop computers in order to avoid chilling First Amendment rights.  However, we conclude that the laptop border searches allowed under the ICE and CBP Directives do not violate travelers’ First Amendment rights.

1 comment:

  1. My question, offered sincerely, is how would guns prevent this situation? I ask because one aspect of the gun debate is that we need the guns to protect us from a tyrannical government, either as deterrent or defense. So I'm wondering how they'd've prevented this.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...