Homeland Security Assuming Broad Powers, Turning Vast Swaths of U.S. into “Constitution-Free Zone”
Director, ACLU Technology & Liberty Program
Thursday, Oct 23, 2008
You’re driving along a remote, dusty road, when suddenly you come upon a border patrol checkpoint. There, agents demand to see your identity papers, and search your car. You are taken by surprise, because you know you haven’t wandered across the Texas-Mexico border. In fact, you’re quite sure of that, because you’re driving through rural Wisconsin countryside west of Green Bay. Even the Canadian border is more than 90 miles away.
This scene is not as far-fetched as you might want to believe. The government is turning vast swaths of our country into a “Constitution-Free Zone” in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is allowed to exercise extraordinary authority that would not normally be permitted under the Constitution. The government says that “the border” — where there is a longstanding view that the Constitution does not fully apply — actually stretches 100 miles inland from the nation’s “external boundary.” And increasingly, we are seeing DHS vigorously utilize that authority.
Today we held a press conference at the National Press Club here in D.C. to try to draw attention to this problem — and the fact that, as we showed, nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population live within this “Constitution-Free Zone.” That’s 197.4 million people........Source Border Patrol (100 miles from the border)