Letter: Border Patrol Sweeps (New York Times)

September 3, 2010 —  To the Editor:

Re “Border Sweeps in North Reach Miles Into U.S.” (front page, Aug. 30):

Border Patrol agents operating across the nation claim the authority to question Americans about their immigration status anywhere within 100 miles of the border. They claim that the normal rules of the Constitution do not apply within this region, and that Americans can be subjected to intrusive questions and even detention that would normally violate the Fourth Amendment.

Yet what federal immigration authorities do not mention is that two-thirds of the United States population (2007 Census figures) lives within 100 miles of land and coastal borders. An astonishing 97.4 percent of New York State’s population is in this so-called Constitution-Free Zone.

No one minding his own business should be subject to internal document checks for walking down the street or riding a bus in New York. Not only is it a violation of our privacy rights, but it’s also a recipe for racial profiling. Government officials must protect New Yorkers’ rights to privacy and equality and ensure that we can travel our great state with the confidence that the full protection of the Constitution applies.

Udi Ofer
Advocacy Director, New York Civil Liberties Union