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I am very concerned that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) believes it can engage in warrantless vehicle stops anywhere within 100 miles of any international border--an area that CBP says encompasses the entire state of Michigan--and not have to provide the public with any information about its stops, detentions or resulting arrests.
Treating the entire state of Michigan as a border zone is excessive, unreasonable, and likely to lead to violations of the public's constitutional rights. As the largest law enforcement agency in the country, CBP must give its agents clear instructions on where their authority does and, more importantly, does not extend. It must also clearly articulate the constitutional limits on that authority to its agents. Applicable law permits operations within "a reasonable distance" of a border, yet CBP has not limited its 100-mile reach and operates unreasonably well beyond our border regions. CBP also must be transparent and accountable to the American public.
Border enforcement -- and the powers that go with it -- belongs at the actual border. A 100-mile border zone is simply unacceptable. Because our entire state falls within this zone, Michigan citizens are particularly at risk of being unconstitutionally stopped and searched. But Michigan is not alone. The 100-mile zone harms communities throughout the county in all states located on or near an international border.
CBP's job is to patrol the border, and that's where its focus should be--not on residents living far from any land or sea frontier. I ask you to protect the fundamentals of our democracy and return CBP to its true mission of securing the border. I ask that you:
--Amend current immigration laws, regulations and policies so that Border Patrol operations take place only at or near an actual international border;
--Issue CBP guidance to agents making clear that constitutional principles, such as the Fourth Amendment, apply with equal force in border zones, and that Border Patrol does not have authority to conduct warrantless searches away from ports of entry; and
--Require CBP to be transparent and accountable to the public by collecting and publishing data about its stops and searches, as well as releasing documents that the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center and ACLU have sought in order to shed light on the 100 mile zone.
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Thank you for your commitment to protecting our cherished American freedoms and to ensuring that our government is accountable to the people.