|This sign was actually posted on Interstate 8 -- INSIDE the United States|
Some Americans take exception to being stopped at these checkpoints. The following video shows Steven Anderson being stopped at two separate checkpoints in California along I-8 enroute from Phoenix to San Diego on the same day. I-8 does not intersect with the Mexican border. Naturally, he was a bit perturbed at being stopped twice, and he refuses to cooperate, although he remains civil. He is eventually allowed to proceed on his way both times:
A Google search uncovered a Yuma Sun article which shows why Anderson takes this so seriously. In April 2009, he was stopped at another Border Patrol checkpoint just east of Yuma, AZ. When he refused to cooperate, Border Patrol agents broke both windows of his vehicle, tasered him, dragged him out of his car and slammed him onto the ground. He received 11 stitches and had visible scabs on his forehead following the encounter. To add insult to injury, Anderson was charged with obstructing a highway and failure to obey instructions of a law enforcement officer; he was acquitted in August 2010.
The vast majority of commenters on the YouTube channel are supportive of Anderson. However, one person offered a contrasting opinion that's worth noting:
tempest411 July 11th 9:30 P.M:
This is so stupid. Look, you can only have it one way. You either carry evidence of who you are so that the illegals -- or other non law-abiding people -- can be caught, OR the authorities never bother checking anyone and people everywhere -- including illegals -- go where they want. BUT YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!!! Presenting solid evidence that you're a legitimate American citizen should be done with pride. WTF are you thinking? Don't be a prick!
Tempest411's comment was heavily voted down. But he brings up a valid point -- the more interdiction of illegal immigrants we demand, the more we're likely to be inconvenienced in order for authorities to accomplish that mission. If Border Patrol agents stopped only Hispanic-appearing motorists, there would be complaints about profiling even though the majority of illegal immigrants are from Latin America.
But these roadside checks have the potential of becoming full-blown fishing expeditions. In May 2009, Roy Wheeler documented a similar experience along I-8 just east of El Centro. Only the Border Patrol agents weren't merely interested in verifying his legal residency; they also wanted to know what he had been doing in Phoenix, where he started his trip. Then the Border Patrol agent implied that all Americans were supposed to carry "approved travel documents" when traveling on our highways. Here's an excerpt of Wheeler's account:
I pull into the secondary area, leaving my engine running, and wait. The agent quickly got his supervisor's attention to come over and the agent approached the passenger side of the vehicle. When he was by the extra cab window of my ranger he asks me, "do you have your immigration documentation?" I am dumbfounded for a split second, I find it impossible that he asked me that question. In that split second, his supervisor that was only a half step behind him, asks, "do you have your travel documents?" At this I am completely blown away, i was never really expecting to hear that in my life time, basically, where are your papers. I said in a loud enough to be heard voice, that I don't have to have documents to travel down the interstate, that I have the freedom of passage granted to me by God, and protected by the constitution, and that I don't have to answer any of their questions. What the supervising agent said next made me want to rip something apart. And I quote agent R. Fink; "This is the United States and you do have to show us documents, and you do have to answer all of our questions, and no you don't have the right to go from place to place anytime you want, .. we were bombed."
So obviously the Border Patrol assumed Wheeler was an illegal immigrant. And when they couldn't intimidate him into cooperating, they attempted to shame him by playing the 9-11 card. But Wheeler stood firm, and was eventually allowed to proceed. Nonetheless, as Wheeler approached the grade leading up into San Diego County, he got another reminder in the form of the road sign included at the start of this post. By the way, the "approved travel documents" apply only to Americans returning to the United States from another country; they are not needed for travel within the United States.
However, on Tuesday July 11th, 2012, Border Patrol agents manning an interior checkpoint near Temecula, CA stopped a Mexican national who was driving a silver 2000 Volkswagen Jetta, and found 13 bundles of methamphetamine worth an estimated $441,000 inside a non-factory compartment under the driver’s side running board. So the interior checkpoints are likely to continue, even though the Obama Administration is preparing to close nine interior Border Patrol stations so the agents can be located to the border.