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Passenger Trains > Has the Border Patrol backed off?


Date: 10/24/11 22:10
Has the Border Patrol backed off?
Author: GenePoon

This is a news story by Don Phillips for Trains Magazine Newswire and various discussion lists, forwarded directly to me by Mr. Phillips for
distribution. It includes official words from the Border Patrol and tough talk from the ACLU.

-GP
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Has the Border Patrol backed off?
by Don Phillips

> U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, which has the power to search trains and buses even though they are not crossing any border, suddenly
> pulled back sharply from such searches in northern New York state during September and October.
>
> Exactly why these searches have been suddenly played down is somewhat a mystery. Bill Brooks, a spokesman for Customs and Border Patrol,
> said such decisions are up to local commanders and that the agency still has the option to stage such searches at any time. "This is
> still in the tool box," Brooks said.
>
> The searches, which often take place in overnight hours, became an almost daily occurrence on Amtrak's New York-Chicago Lakeshore
> Limited for months, as they did on numerous intercity buses. Customs and Border Patrol apparently told no one that it was halting the
> searches. Even New York state government was apparently kept in the dark. Amtrak and bus company officials began calling each other
> several weeks ago asking what was happening. They also were not informed.
>
> At a recent conference of attorneys in upstate New York, according to sources, Border Patrol agents mentioned the change in tactics, but
> gave no reasons. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been watching Border Patrol activities carefully, and some sources
> speculated the Border Patrol wanted to lower the pressure before any possible legal action.
>
> Udi Ofer, advocacy director for the ACLU in New York, said the ACLU "absolutely" has been looking at legal moves against the searches.
> Ofer said it is particular upsetting that Border Patrol agents approach passengers in "a very intimidating manner" and lead
> passengers to believe that they must show agents identification. "With some exceptions, such as showing police a driver license if
> stopped for a traffic violation, New Yorkers never must submit to an "internal document check" while inside the borders of the United
> States."
>
> Ofer said an ACLU employee who travels the train frequently, has repeatedly ignored not-so-veiled threats and not only refused to show
> identification but actually has filmed the Border Patrol searches, again ignoring pressure from agents. This employee has never been
> removed from a train or charged with anything, he said.
>
> "It is important for New Yorkers to know the northern border is not a Constitution-free zone," Ofer said. "The vast majority of New
> Yorkers do not know they cannot be arrested for refusing to show identification. I don't even know if all Border Patrol people know
> that."
>
> In some states, you must give your name to a cop if he demands it, but there is no requirement you show any identification proving
> that's your name. If the cop finds later that you lied, then he can charge you with that.
>
> Also, there had been numerous complaints to members of Congress and to the various transportation companies, but there was no way to
> determine what effect these complaints had on the pullback. Amtrak officials frequently rode the Lake Shore Limited to prevent
> unnecessary delays and to give cover to train crew members who the Border Patrol ordered to let the train stand still as long as
> necessary in Rochester and other stations.
>
> There was at least one confrontation when a ranking Amtrak official ordered the train to begin moving on time with several Border Patrol
> agents still aboard. Amtrak sources reported that agents threatened the official with arrest, but he stood his ground. He was not
> arrested, and agents began searching faster after that. After weeks of inactivity, agents searched the train again at lease twice the
> weekend of Oct. 15, shortly after Trains first asked about the pullback, removing one passenger and briefly delaying one train,
> sources said.
>
> There are also reliable reports that the office of civil rights and civil liberties in the Department of Homeland Security is looking
> into complaints of racial profiling by Border Patrol agents, but it is not known if any of these complaints named the Buffalo office.
>
> Customs and Border Patrol is allowed to operate within 100 miles of any border. Brooks, the spokesman for Customs and Border Patrol, said
> agents may operate at transportation hubs including airports, train
> stations and bus stations.
>
> "Transportation hubs are used increasingly by drug trafficking organizations and alien smuggling organizations to move smuggled
> people, narcotics and other contraband to destinations across the country, Brooks said. "Enforcement actions of this type are performed
> in direct support of immediate border enforcement efforts and as a means of preventing smuggling organizations from exploiting existing
> transportation hubs to travel to the interior of the United States."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/24/11 22:13 by GenePoon.



Date: 10/25/11 00:45
Re: Has the Border Patrol backed off?
Author: coach

This is interesting.

Regarding the "showing I.D." comments, do I have to show I.D. in grocery stores when asked, if it's only the store clerk paying a recycling redemption receipt? Anyone know?? I've never liked it, but how do you find out these finer points of the law??



Date: 10/25/11 01:13
Re: Has the Border Patrol backed off?
Author: lwilton

coach Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This is interesting.
>
> Regarding the "showing I.D." comments, do I have
> to show I.D. in grocery stores when asked, if it's
> only the store clerk paying a recycling redemption
> receipt? Anyone know?? I've never liked it, but
> how do you find out these finer points of the
> law??

The laws for most states and even local municipalities are online, and can generally be searched by the public. It can take a bit of digging though to be sure you have found everything; maybe there is a law in the Fish & Game laws that would require an ID when at a convenience store that sells bait.

Probably in most states there is no law requiring you to show an ID when writing a check or using a credit card or when receiving goods or money that is supposed to go to a specific person. It is usually a rule either of the card company or the company you are dealing directly with, and it is intended to reduce the considerable amount of fraud that people attempt.

If you refuse to show an id, nobody with any training is going to call the cops. But they will refuse the transaction and request cash if you are paying, or in the case of receiving, probably refuse the transaction if you can't or won't provide an ID. Unless there is a specific provision in the rules associated with recycling redemption that states that you DO NOT have to show ID to get money, they can probably ask before issuing payment. Now, if you are paying for dinner and refuse to show an ID when asked to verify the card you handed over, and refuse to pay cash in lieu, then the cops are likely to be called.

(I believe there are in some places laws that basically back up the businessman's right to ask for an id, usually worded along the lines of "a busnessman may ask for proof of ID when presented with a form of payment other than cash".)

Suggestion: if the recycling redemption is you bring in a bag of cans and they hand you a couple bucks in cash, just bring in a small bag and tell them you don't have your ID with you and see what happens. As long it is itsn't a drive-thru that would be hard pressed to claim that you HAD to have an ID with you.



Date: 10/25/11 04:52
Re: Has the Border Patrol backed off?
Author: Lackawanna484

The on board train searches attracted the interest of New York's congressional delegation, many of whose constituents were upset by the repeated intrusions.

It would not be a great leap to assume the elected reps of the people made their feelings known to the administration. It wouldn't be the first time.



Date: 10/25/11 05:06
Re: Has the Border Patrol backed off?
Author: joemvcnj

I like the part where the conductor or an Amtrak official ordered the train to leave with them onboard. The paper tigers did not retaliate despite huffing and puffing. They should do that more often.



Date: 10/25/11 12:30
Re: Has the Border Patrol backed off?
Author: houstonguy2010

The merchant agreement with Visa and Mastercard states that the merchant is supposed to check the signature on the back of the card with the signature that you provide. If and only if the signatures do not match then they may ask for ID. Then if you do not produce ID they may decline the transaction. If it is a PIN based transaction they cannot ask for ID. My wife is a police officer and has challenged this several times with store clerks. Most clerks or even store managers have no clue as to the merchant agreement with Visa/Mastercard. Sophisticated identity thieves sometimes have a digital camera strategically positioned to silently take a picture of your drivers license/ID care when making a transaction and you are asked to show ID. In Pennsylvania where I live you are required to give a police officer your name and address if stopped. Now if you are driving a car then you must produce a drivers license. But the officer just cannot walk up and ask you to produce ID. They need probable cause. I have been on the Lakeshore Limited and the Builder many times when border patrol came onboard. For me it has always been a simple question of are you a US Citizen. I did see one woman in Havre tell the agent that she did not wish to participate. The agent said fine and walked away. Have been on the Sunset Limited twice and never saw a border agent. Now on those occasions probably 5% of the coach cars were illegal in my personal opinion. I have no problem with drug sniffing dogs coming onboard but I think these ID checks are an infringement of our rights personally. And one sleeping car attendant told us once that a border agent in Havre said that if he ever had any passenger who was not being nice to him to let the agent know and he would "take care" of them. Now I do not know if any agent ever said any such thing but if so that would not be a very nice thing to do to a paying customer. This was the same attendant who never opened our sleeper door during break stops and spent half the trip sitting in the dining car. But 2 hours from arrival at CHI he came around with chocolates and asked if we needed anything.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/25/11 12:38 by houstonguy2010.



Date: 10/25/11 13:42
Re: Has the Border Patrol backed off?
Author: warren49

coach Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This is interesting.
>
> Regarding the "showing I.D." comments, do I have
> to show I.D. in grocery stores when asked, if it's
> only the store clerk paying a recycling redemption
> receipt? Anyone know?? I've never liked it, but
> how do you find out these finer points of the
> law??


Many states and local governments have laws requiring that recyclers, and I would assume that includes stores that redeem these receipts, obtain valid IDs from anyone who is selling recycled materials. In some cases, if the amount of the transaction is large enough, there is even a waiting period for the seller to collect the payment. These laws have come about because there is so much theft of recyclable goods and materials. Unfortunately, the laws are really meant to snare those who steal this stuff on a large scale, but make it difficult for the average person.



Date: 10/25/11 15:41
Re: Has the Border Patrol backed off?
Author: toledopatch

warren49 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> coach Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > This is interesting.
> >
> > Regarding the "showing I.D." comments, do I
> have
> > to show I.D. in grocery stores when asked, if
> it's
> > only the store clerk paying a recycling
> redemption
> > receipt? Anyone know?? I've never liked it,
> but
> > how do you find out these finer points of the
> > law??
>
>
> Many states and local governments have laws
> requiring that recyclers, and I would assume that
> includes stores that redeem these receipts, obtain
> valid IDs from anyone who is selling recycled
> materials. In some cases, if the amount of the
> transaction is large enough, there is even a
> waiting period for the seller to collect the
> payment. These laws have come about because there
> is so much theft of recyclable goods and
> materials. Unfortunately, the laws are really
> meant to snare those who steal this stuff on a
> large scale, but make it difficult for the average
> person.

I've been asked for ID at scrapyards in Ohio that accept aluminum cans for just this reason -- it's designed to snare people who steal stuff for recycling. But I have yet to be asked for ID to redeem bottles and cans for which I paid a deposit, as is required in neighboring Michigan (10c per container, too!). I'm actually in favor of can and bottle deposits, but I wish the rate were uniform everywhere....



Date: 10/26/11 19:56
Re: Has the Border Patrol backed off?
Author: chakk

And if the rates WERE uniform, we never would have seen Kramer and Newmann make a run for Michigan with a Postal Truck full of recyclable cans.



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