Borderline Freedom

1975, winter, somewhere in the American Southwest. I am driving across a state border and there is a sign that reads “do not transport citrus fruit across state lines.” There on the side of the road is a check point with uniformed federal agents, a place to pull off, some garbage cans. I look at the oranges sitting on the floor over on the passenger side and figure … “better pull off and dump this contraband.” But then something surprising happened.


A repost from the Days of Bush. But has this problem been solved yet?

I started to pull into the checkpoint, and one of the uniformed federal agents leaned over a bit to see who was in the 10 year old Volkswagen Type 3. He saw two hippies, one with very long hair, one with somewhat longer hair. He tried to wave us on, back on to the road.

But I knew we had oranges. I knew we would be violating Federal Law if we crossed the state line, just a few yards ahead. So I continued to slow down and head over to the trash cans. Just beyond the trash cans, there was a car full of people and a couple of more uniformed federal agents. I figured “They must have oranges too.”

As I headed over to the trash cans, the agent that was waving us on became agitated and started pointing towards the road with one hand and indicating with the other that we should head out that way. I also noticed that there were a LOT of people in that car over there, and that it was an even older and more beat up car than the one I was driving.

Whatever, I was heading for the trash can. No violation of Federal Law for me. Uh unh.

Now one or two of the Well Armed Uniformed Federal Officers over by the other car, which I now perceived as being full of rather scared Mexican looking people, were also waving me away. So I rolled down my window and said: “I have oranges” … puzzled look from the Federali … “Organges!” (I’m holding up the bag.)

“We’re not checking oranges today, sir, just get back on the road and have a nice day…”

One last look at the extended family perhaps visiting from Mexico as they peered hopelessly out the window of their car…. And I drove away, puzzled.

That was my first time. Eventually, I got used to it. I am not Hispanic so I just drive by the ‘fruit’ checkpoints at which the jack-booted Uniformed Federal Agents pull over, harass, and perhaps occasionally arrest (and who knows what else) the Hispanic people.

I always wondered what could possibly be the basis for this kind of search and seizure authority. Back in those days, there were Medfly scares, but I don’t think Mexican families are more likely to carry Medflies than oranges are. But today, I learned something new about this.

Apparently, it has become common practice for the US Border Patrol to consider any spot of land within 100 miles of a federal border, which I think sometimes includes inland waterways (and thus would run up major rivers some distance) to be within the zone that Fourth Amendment rights are suspended.

It turns out that two thirds of the American population lives within this zone. Two thirds. Two hundred million of the three hundred million of us do not have fourth amendment rights anymore.

Here are the details on that little problem.

And while you are checking that out, read about the US government plans to develop teams of robots designed to track down and capture unwilling individuals. Unwilling in what way you may ask? Don’t ask questions like that. They’ll take you over behind the trash cans if you ask questions like that.

Comments

  1. #1 Jason
    October 13, 2009

    Re: Common practice… 100 miles of border… 2/3 of population.

    I would say probably the Mexican border it is common practice. It certainly is not common practice on the coastlines, where border patrol is nonexistent, and which would have to be included for the 2/3 of the population quote to be remotely true. I doubt strongly it is true of the Canadian border, but you Minnesotans would know that much better than I.

  2. #2 itzac
    October 13, 2009

    I heard about this probably a year or so ago. Jason, the point is that provisions in the patriot act or some other ironically named paranoid national security bill describes a zone 100 miles from any federal border wherein the 4th amendment is essentially non-existent. Of course, if you aren’t a criminal, terrorist, or illegal immigrant you have nothing to fear. How an officer makes that determination in the time between pulling you over and searching your car is entirely up to him.

  3. #3 Kate
    October 13, 2009

    It’s common practice here, even as far north as Sante Fe, where people are pulled out of work and have their documents and backgrounds checked by feds running routine raids looking for “illegals”. This isn’t “we’ve got a tip and we’re coming for one of you”… it’s a net where they take all the hispanic looking individuals in a building and check every one.

  4. #4 D. C. Sessions
    October 13, 2009

    It’s common practice here, even as far north as Sante Fe, where people are pulled out of work and have their documents and backgrounds checked by feds running routine raids looking for “illegals”. This isn’t “we’ve got a tip and we’re coming for one of you”… it’s a net where they take all the hispanic looking individuals in a building and check every one.

    And considering the population of New Mexico, that could be no end entertaining. I do wonder what happens when some newbie pulls it on Governor Richardson?

  5. #5 Bruce
    October 13, 2009

    Memorial Day 2008, Thornton, NH. ICE stops ALL southbound traffic on I-93, a major southbound artery on a major holiday weekend. I don’t look Hispanic, so they gave me a brief look and waved me on. Don’t know how quick it would have gone if I spoke with a foreign, like Quebec, accent.

  6. #6 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    October 14, 2009

    Freakin’ leftist. This doesn’t affect our freedom as much as Obamacare’s fascism. It is far worse to be faced with the threat of having to choose between crappy insurance that you overpay for and from which you can be dropped at anytime, than is the prospect of a darker person being pulled over for speaking Spanish. ‘Cause they probably deserve it anyway.

  7. #7 Rob Jase
    October 14, 2009

    Haubricj, for your sake I hope you’re just a poor POE.

  8. #8 Spiv
    October 14, 2009

    Rob: Sarcasm is hard to detect over the internet, but I’m pretty sure that’s where Mike was going.

    We have essentially no ‘border patrol’ where I’m at (or anything like it). However, the ‘good old boy’ LEO population perpetually violates 4th amendment. If you get pulled over and don’t look, you know, white christian ‘merican, you can bet you’ll be first asked to be searched, then harassed and likely arrested if you refuse, then have your vehicle impounded and ‘searched’ (read: vandalized by taking apart without the proper skills and care to properly take a vehicle apart). They will manage to justify it after the fact somehow. Unless you’ve got a camera running for the whole thing you’re screwed.

  9. #9 Jim Thomerson
    October 14, 2009

    I’ve been through a Border Patrol checkpoint a number of times and have never been stopped.

    Another anecdote. A friend is an avid cactusophile. He worked for a furniture company and would ride with the truck out to California and buy cactus from the nurseries there and bring them back. At some border checkpoint there was a garden of confiscated cacti. The driver jokingly said, “I’ll distract them and you get you some cactus.” Came back to the truck and they roll on down the road. Driver looks in the mirror and the sleeper is full of newly dugup cacti.

  10. #10 David
    October 14, 2009

    Reminds me of another case of suspended freedom:

    Watch out for the police and their tricks. Haven’t you heart they’re as smart as 3-year-old humans?

  11. #11 Thom Krawford
    October 14, 2009

    I absolutely believe the ONLY kind of technological revolution
    we can have that must and will set the tone for all others to follow will be all about the science of words: a unified field definition of logic.

    We have all the tools necessary to leap far beyond where we currently are on all fronts. But we have forgotten how to adapt and recombine our resources.

    The Robots described in the article don’t impress me very much, because we human beings are still the most dangerous and unstable element standing in our way.

    There will be a revolution in the lingua franca of general and specific knowledge before anything else: a definition of the necessity of our inherent nature and what is probable about how that nature is ultimately expressed in thought and action.

    Its going to be cool.

    A thought from
    Tom

Current ye@r *