Immigrant Rights Groups Across The Southwest Criticize Border Checkpoints

By Kate Sheehy
July 09, 2014

TUCSON, Ariz. — Immigration rights organizations set up “Border Reality Checkpoints” in communities from California to Texas on Wednesday to inform people about their rights at interior Border Patrol checkpoints. People gathered at two locations in Arizona.

Activists held signs reading “Know Your Rights” and “Report Abuse” in front of Amory Park in downtown Tucson. The event here was sponsored by the ACLU of Arizona and The Border Action Network.

James Lyall is a staff attorney with the ACLU of Arizona. He says there is a lack of oversight and accountability within the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

“That’s why we continue, almost on a daily basis, to get complaints from border residents whose rights have been violated, who’ve been detained at length, who’ve been interrogated at length, been searched unlawfully and in some cases physically and verbally abused by agents,” Lyall said.

Another event took place southwest of Tucson in the small border town of Arivaca. People here have been complaining about harassment by Border Patrol since last year. Residents sent the Tucson Sector headquarters of the Border Patrol a letter last year asking that a local immigration checkpoint be removed and that the agency turn over data about who was being stopped and detained. They were denied and since then have taken it upon themselves to monitor Border Patrol actions at a checkpoint.

Shevannah Wray is a Border Patrol agent from the Tucson Sector Public Affairs Office. She says representatives from her office continue to meet with people living in border communities, such as Arivaca and Tubac, about their concerns. She also noted that checkpoints are strategically placed to intercept smugglers.

 “Between 2010 and 2013, we actually had over 6,000 apprehensions at our checkpoints and over 135,000 pounds of narcotics that we seized at our checkpoints,” Wray said.

The U.S. Border Patrol says it currently operates 34 permanent interior checkpoints along the U.S.-Mexico border.