This is a pretty good article but you can disregard the doo-dah at the end representing the ACLU. For some reason he thinks one can preserve their rights by living in a democracy. Par for the ACLU, however.
By Dane Schiller
27 March 2015
No drugs or would-be immigrants were hidden in the sedan that rolled up to a Border Patrol checkpoint on a Southern California highway last week, but within 90 seconds the driver was handcuffed.
His 4-year-old boy was crying. And a video camera mounted on the car's dashboard captured the moment. The motorist had said he was an American but told the agent he did not have to say where he was going, would not consent to a search of his trunk and would not move his car.
"You brought this on yourself, buddy," an agent says as he is led away.
Another traveler came through a similar checkpoint in El Paso this month, also with a video camera rolling.
He, too, challenged the agent, saying he would not answer questions. After a few seconds he was curtly told, "Get out of here."
These travelers are among the latest to join what appears to be an informal alliance of people, possibly into the hundreds, recording their encounters at Border Patrol checkpoints that are not at international ports of entry but instead on the many roads located within 100 miles of borders and coasts and that connect the regions with the rest of the nation. There are 34 such permanent checkpoints along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.
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Some of the travelers appear to be making a stand for what they say are their rights and contend that the government, which has long drawn support for doing whatever is needed to protect the nation's borders, is going too far.
Determining how widespread the videotaping has become is difficult to determine, but they are well-known among border activists, academics, lawyers and law-enforcement officers from Texas to California. Hundreds of such videos are posted online, and they are drawing millions of viewers.
Thomas Sauer, a 26-year-old trucker from Central Texas, has drawn more than 130,000 views to his video.
He told an agent at a checkpoint near Falfurrias in November that he was going to "opt out" of discussing his citizenship.
"I did it because I don't agree with the premise of questioning citizens without suspicion," Sauer said this week. "Those type of interactions should be left at the border."
The Navy veteran had his window smashed out by agents who yanked him from the cab and took him away, also while a camera rolled.
Sauer was not ultimately charged with a crime but was fingerprinted and put in holding tank for several hours. He also was fired from his job.
"They read me my rights, which was ignorant to me in more ways than one," Sauer said. "They told me I had the right to remain silent."
Sauer, who said he is still looking for legal representation to rectify the incident, said he made the recording for YouTube.
The videos fall into the genre of recording police but offer viewers a ride with citizens who haven't left this country and don't see why they should have to tell federal agents about their comings and goings.
"It makes the agency very nervous. They know they can make mistakes and these videos are viewed by a lot of people, and people gather the courage to challenge them," said Tony Payan, of Rice University's Baker Institute. "Videos are an instrument of accountability. This is what this country is about."
Payan, who lived along the border for several years, said that as the Border Patrol has grown, concern increases over the agency's power.
It has more than doubled in size to 20,000 agents since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and is part of Customs and Border Protection, the largest U.S. law enforcement agency.
Some travelers who encounter agents at checkpoints are ready for a showdown. Others are having fun, such as a man in Arizona who doesn't answer an agent's questions but instead holds up a Bible and tells the agent he'd like to save his soul.
'The fastest way'
In seconds, he is waved through in a video described as "the fastest way to get through a Border Patrol checkpoint."
The patrol for decades has had checkpoints along chokepoints where roadways lead from border communities to the interior of the United States. Agents are chiefly stationed there to confirm that people are legally in the U.S., but they also discover tons of smuggled drugs annually.
The patrol, along with its parent agency, Customs and Border Protection, declined to say how many people who fail to comply at these checkpoints are detained.
"Border Patrol agents may lawfully question the (vehicle) occupants about their citizenship and place of birth, and may request documented proof of immigration status and how an individual status was obtained," CBP said in a prepared statement. "It is not unusual for Border Patrol agents at checkpoints to engage in conversations with the public regarding their travels."
The agency also said that checkpoints do not give agents the automatic authority to search people or their vehicles but that they may consent to searches.
Authorities could not readily say how often citizens are refusing to answer questions or how often they are charged.
Court records show that among them is Joe Vega, who is to be sentenced April 1 in Laredo.
He pleaded guilty to impeding Border Patrol agents after refusing to move his car into a secondary inspection area for a search.
Clashes with agents
In 2014, Michael Sophin was charged with resisting an agent near the West Texas town of Sierra Blanca after he said he did not have to discuss his citizenship and drove away before questioning was finished. Sophin was chased down Interstate 10, arrested and later convicted by a jury. He was sentenced this month to eight months in prison.
David Martin, who does missionary work south of the border, was given two years of misdemeanor probation last year for a clash with agents near Laredo.
While video recording, he told agents that he was exercising his right not to declare his citizenship.
But he also refused to move his vehicle from a primary traffic lane into a secondary inspection area and later struggled as agents pulled him out and put him in a cell, according to court papers.
Standing up for rights
James Lyall, of the American Civil Liberties Union, said he, too, has seen a movement of people challenging checkpoints and added that the Border Patrol can't legally pull motorists from cars just because they won't answer questions.
The Supreme Court determined that agents should ask only a few limited questions to verify whether a person is legally in the United States. Simply staying quiet or challenging authority isn't enough, he said. There must be "reasonable suspicion" a crime is being committed, he said.
"Everyone has the right to remain silent and can't be compelled to answer," he said. "To say people should not stand up for their rights reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to live in a democracy," he said. "Rights aren't worth a damn if you can't exercise them."