America’s Immigration Police State:: Warrantless Trespasses, Searches, and Seizures

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In yesterday’s blog post, I addressed one aspect of the immigration police state that is part of the enforcement of America’s socialist system of immigration controls — domestic highway checkpoints. I pointed out that such police-state checkpoints are a central feature of communist and totalitarian regimes.

Another part of America’s immigration police state is warrantless trespasses and searches of farms and ranches along the U.S.-Mexico border. I’ll draw from personal experience to demonstrate this particular police-state destruction of liberty and privacy.

I grew up on a farm on the Rio Grande, which is the border between the United States and Mexico. A state-owned road from Laredo named the Mines Road paralleled the river. It enabled landowners along the river to get to their properties. 

Thus, to get to our farm from Laredo, we would drive northwest on the Mines Road and then, when we reached our farm, we would turn left to enter our farm. To get to our house, we would then drive on a dirt road in the direction of the river. Our house was located about 1/4 mile from the Mines Road. 

To get to the river, we would simply keep moving down the dirt road toward the river, which was about 1 1/2 miles from the Mines Road. 

Under America’s socialist system of immigration controls, the Border Patrol had the authority to “control the border,” which was, again, the Rio Grande. The Border Patrol could obviously have done that by launching boats under the international bridge that connected Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. In that way, they could have “controlled the border.”

But instead of doing that, they would trespass onto our farm (and all the other farms and ranches along the river). They would do this without a search warrant. Their rationale was that since they had the authority to “control the border” (i.e., the Rio Grande), that gave them the authority to trespass onto our private property to drive down to the river and look at it from our property. (Side note: It is ironic and revealing that immigration-control advocates lament when illegal immigrants trespass onto private farms and ranches but never ever lament the Border Patrol’s trespasses onto those same farms and ranches.)

If we put a lock on our gate at the Mines Road entrance, we were expected to deliver a key to the Border Patrol. If we failed to do so, they would simply shoot off the lock and enter onto our property to drive down to the river.

We hired illegal immigrants on our farm. They lived there on our farm. They were the hardest working people I’ve ever seen. During summers, my brothers and I would work out in the fields with them irrigating or bailing hay. After the work day was completed, we’d sometimes eat dinner together and then play some football in our yard. They were our good friends. 

We all knew that the Border Patrol would periodically enter our farm. On seeing them at our gate at the Mines Road, the workers would run inside a barn we had and hide. Interestingly enough, the Border Patrol, to its credit, never demanded to come into our home or our barn to conduct searches, but I have no doubt that the Supreme Court would have upheld the constitutionality of their doing so, under the same rubric that the Court used to sustain warrantless trespasses on farms and ranches along the border — that the government has the authority to “control the border.”

One day, the Border Patrol stopped our workers before they could make it to the barn. They questioned them and then arrested them. It was an extremely difficult emotional experience for my bothers and me because we knew that we would never see them again. A first offense is a misdemeanor but if illegal immigrants are caught doing it a second time, they are charged with a felony. Most of them do not take that chance.

But the question naturally arises: Under what authority did they stop and question our workers? The Border Patrol agents certainly did not have a search warrant. Moreover, our workers were not on the border. They were a mile from the border.

Such legal niceties didn’t matter. The Border Patrol had omnipotent power to do whatever it wanted so long as it was “controlling the border.”

It bears emphasizing that it’s not just farms and ranches along the border onto which that the Border Patrol trespassed without a warrant. They would do the same with ranches miles away from the border. In fact, one of the common complaints of ranchers in South Texas was that the Border Patrol would leave closed gates open between pastures inside the ranches, knowing full well that that was a cardinal sin of ranching. They just didn’t care if they caused damage to the ranchers because they arrogantly knew that they were immune from civil liability. 

It also bears emphasizing that the Border Patrol actually has the same power to engage in these types of warrantless trespasses and searches on any property within 100 miles of the border. Yes, 100 miles! The Supreme Court calls all this land the “functional equivalent of the border.” The only reason there aren’t more protests is that the Border Patrol pretty much limits its police-state tactics to farms and ranches along the border.

Our ancestors did their best to protect us from this type of police-state tyranny by imposing the Fourth Amendment on federal officials: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Unfortunately, in the never-ending futile question to “control the border,” that protection has been nullified, leaving Americans living in the Southwest to suffer under immigration police-state tyranny whose aim is to enforce America’s socialist system of immigration controls. Never mind that this tyranny has never worked and will never work. 

The post America’s Immigration Police State:: Warrantless Trespasses, Searches, and Seizures appeared first on The Future of Freedom Foundation.

* This article was originally published here


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