When a criminal is being sought, Law Enforcement will sometimes shut down portions of a road or highway and check out drivers and passengers. Checkpoints can also be set up to prevent smuggling, and at times like New Years Eve to stop drunk drivers. In the case of this story, these highways are being shut down to try and 'get' people who were not born in the United States. This has caused some controversy. There are those who are concerned that nationwide crackdowns on immigrants, and increased Customs and Border Protection at bus and train stops, along with more and longer highway checkpoints, make it hard not to feel that people are living in a "show me your papers" country.
Such immigration checkpoints on highways have been used by the Border Patrol for years, often along popular smuggling and drug-trafficking routes in the Southwest. But their frequency has increased under President Trump, federal officials have said. The one in Maine was set up several days after agents conducted a three-day checkpoint on a New Hampshire highway, at least the second checkpoint in that state so far this year.
Inspections have also extended to bus and train stops, where federal agents in Florida, Maine, New York and Washington State have recently asked riders about their immigration status.
A nearly six-minute video of the Maine encounter offered a window into the reach and power of the Border Patrol at a time when its enforcement of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy has come under intense criticism. The reporters asked a Border Patrol agent why the checkpoint had been set up.
“It’s just a random checkpoint. It’s within 100 miles of the border,” the agent said. “We just occasionally set them up to see what we can catch.”
The agent added that the officers look for signs that include how people answer their questions and if they speak with an accent. He argued the stops were fair and free of potential bias because every person who passed through the checkpoint was asked the same question.
Border Patrol officers have long come under criticism for why they decide to stop some people and not others. They have been accused of making subjective and arbitrary judgments. Customs and Border Protection instructs agents not to consider a person’s race or ethnicity.
Agents are also barred from considering a person’s language, an issue that surfaced in an encounter in Montana last month. A Border Patrol agent overheard a woman speaking Spanish to a friend inside a convenience store in Havre, a small town about 30 miles south of Canada. He stopped the women and asked for their proof of citizenship, later telling them that their Spanish had raised suspicions. The friends were United States citizens.
But drivers who encounter the checkpoints have long complained abThe A.C.L.U.’s offices in New Hampshire and Maine have challenged the Border Patrol’s immigration checks on highways and at bus stops. The group filed a lawsuit in New Hampshire last year after a checkpoint in Woodstock resulted in the arrest of several people on drug charges. Last month, a judge agreed and ruled in favor of the A.C.L.U., saying that the stops violated both state and federal constitutions.
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