While everyone was busy celebrating the New Year last evening with parties, revelry and resolution-making, “a US federal judge reaffirmed the Obama administration policy granting officials the authority to search American’s laptops, citing a controversial premise that makes citizens within 100 miles of the border eligible for a police check.”
According to RT.com:
District Judge Edward Korman made his ruling in New York on Tuesday, more than three years after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit. The ACLU claimed that – since Americans put so much of their lives on their computers, cell phones, and other devices – border officials should have reasonable suspicion before sifting through someone’s personal files.
Attorneys argued that searches conducted without reasonable suspicion are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.
Not so, according to Judge Korman. In his decision Tuesday he argued that the area 100 miles inland falls under a “border exemption.”
Before going any further, it’s important to note the context of the situation under which the suit was filed.
In 2010, Pascal Abidor, a 29 year old Islamic studies student, was traveling by Amtrak rail from Canada to his parent’s home in New York. Abidor was sitting in the train’s cafe car when an officer approached Abidor, forced him to take out his laptop, and ordered him to enter his password. Mr. Abidor had his laptop confiscated for 11 days. On the laptop were photos of Hamas and Hezbollah rallies and agents, which according to Abidor were related to his studies. The officer handcuffed Abidor, keeping him detained for over three hours and questioning him numerous times.
With this in mind, Judge Edward Korman stated this in his ruling:
“Laptops have only come into widespread use in the twenty-first century. Prior to that time, lawyers, photographers, and scholars managed to travel overseas and consult with clients, take photographs, and conduct scholarly research.“
“No one ever suggested the possibility of a border search had a chilling effect on his or her First Amendment rights. While it is true that laptops make overseas work more convenient, the precaution plaintiffs may choose to take to ‘mitigate’ the alleged harm associated with the remote possibility of a border search are simply among the many inconveniences associated with international travel.”
Everyone is aware, if you have traveled internationally, that the US conducts searches on travelers entering and leaving the country. However, Congress expanded on this policy when the Department of Homeland Security was created and 33 checkpoints established “inside the country where people are stopped and asked to prove their citizenship.” These checkpoints have nothing to do with international travel through international entry points into the United States.
Take a look at this map of the United States outlining the 100 mile Constitution free zone along the borders.
Florida, Hawaii, and almost the entire northeast section of the country are contained in Constitution free zones because of their location as Border States. According to the ACLU, almost two-thirds of the population or 197.4 million people live within the 100 mile zone. Dozens of metropolitan cities and areas also fall within this area where police checks may occur that is known as the “exemption” zone. The Department of Homeland Security’s own data indicates that between 2008 and 2010, 6500 people had their devices searched, half being US citizens.
So, if you are living in a border state within the 100 mile zone, you are subject to the same searches and seizures as those who are traveling internationally. Doesn’t that make you feel secure?
The ACLU is considering filing an appeal.
In reading the Fourth Amendment, there is no mention of exception with international travel, which even though uncommon doing those times, was occurring by ship and possibly by wagon into Canada. The Fourth Amendment was written at a time when computers where not even conceivable. However, cannot a computer, an iPhone, an iPad or other electronic device be considered an “effect” or a “thing?” Once an American citizen shows identification, shouldn’t that be the end of the story at an international entry point or elsewhere, unless a specific warrant is issued under the Fourth Amendment? Better yet, why are any of these things being done at all to American citizens?
All of this has nothing to do with terrorism or illegal immigration. If that is the claim, isn’t the NSA spying on everyone, datamining their information and storing it for years supposed to be thwarting terrorism by this activity? That is the NSA claim; however, this is the same agency whose contractors were using their positions to spy on exes and love interests. If the NSA was even remotely thwarting terrorism, why did they not catch the Boston Bombers beforehand? Wasn’t it the NSA and the FBI who came out afterward saying they had information about these Boston Bombers? It’s akin to Nostradamus fans saying he predicted 9/11 over 500 years ago only after the tragedy occurred.
As far as illegal immigration goes, the Congress is proposing amnesty for the millions here in violation of the law. Why does Homeland Security need to determine citizenship of anyone, not coming through international entry points, when all they are going to do is turn around and allow anyone in the country illegally to receive impunity? In getting down to brass tacks, the entire Southern border is over-run with people crossing into the country daily without going through so much as a Kleenex check. The entire Southern border is an international entry point as it has been discovered that Mexican citizens are not the only ones entering our country illegally by crossing the unsecured area.
No, this has nothing to do with any of that. It is all about conditioning the American public to accept and comply with violations upon their God-given rights, in essence, silently consent to the erosion of the Constitution. Those border state residents who are completely engulfed in a Constitution free zone should be outraged, along with anyone living in any of these areas. It is boiling down to a “papers please” initiative indicative of the oppression seen in East Germany and the former USSR. It is a lead in to a greater exertion of government control for an agenda that has yet to be completely exposed.
I recently received an email from a Freedom Outpost reader who stated that in this article, the 100 mile border constitution free zone, where suspicion-less and warrant-less searches of American citizens’ effects could occur, did not only pertain to the external boundaries of the United States but also to ports of entry. This would include international airports within the internal framework of the United States where direct international flights arrive and depart.
In researching this new information, 8 CFR 287.1 – definitions concerning external boundaries and reasonable distances was discovered. External boundaries means “as used in section 287(a)(3) of the Act, means the land boundaries and the territorial sea of the United States extending 12 nautical miles from the baselines of the United States determined in accordance with international law.” The definition of “reasonable distance” is “as used in section 287(a) (3) of the Act, means within 100 air miles from any external boundary of the United States or any shorter distance which may be fixed by the chief patrol agent for CBP, or the special agent in charge for ICE, or, so far as the power to board and search aircraft is concerned any distance fixed pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section.”
Paragraph (b) states:
Reasonable distance; fixing by chief patrol agents and special agents in charge. In fixing distances not exceeding 100 air miles pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, chief patrol agents and special agents in charge shall take into consideration topography, confluence of arteries of transportation leading from external boundaries, density of population, possible inconvenience to the traveling public, types of conveyances used, and reliable information as to movements of persons effecting illegal entry into the United States: Provided, That whenever in the opinion of a chief patrol agent or special agent in charge a distance in his or her sector or district of more than 100 air miles from any external boundary of the United States would because of unusual circumstances be reasonable, such chief patrol agent or special agent in charge shall forward a complete report with respect to the matter to the Commissioner of CBP, or the Assistant Secretary for ICE, as appropriate, who may, if he determines that such action is justified, declare such distance to be reasonable.
In reviewing Judge Korman’s decision, page 13 of the 32 page finding references the US Customs and Border Protection Strategic Plan for Securing America’s Borders at Ports of Entry. On page 36 of the Strategic Plan, Objective 4.1 established the strategy and action enabling CBP to secure Port of Entry (POE) to effectively perform its mission. The first paragraph sentence states, “CBP cannot allow facilities limitations to put the security of the nation at risk.” Listed as the first bullet point under “Strategies and Actions” is this statement, “Define the spaces and facilities at POEs that CBP needs authority over to meet its mission, including conducting assessments, inspections and enforcement.”
Does this mean the CBP at a Port of Entry could declare a 100 mile radius around that POE as a constitution free zone? It is plausible and a possibility. With that in mind, it would increase the areas around the country around international internal ports of entry subject to violations of the Fourth Amendment and other constitutional freedoms. This would mean that more individuals are living within constitution free zones than previously thought.
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