Over 100 people got together this past December to protest the constitutionality of a particular southwestern border patrol checkpoint. This one, in Arivaca, has been in place for about six years. The hour-long protest was made up of Arivaca residents and humanitarian group members. The groups represented included the Green Valley Samaritans, No More Deaths, and Derechos Humanos.
The rally began from two different points. One group started in the parking lot of a local restaurant in Amado and the other began its march at the Arivaca Community Center. The two groups eventually converged near the checkpoint.
Upon arriving at the checkpoint, they quickly discovered that it had been closed. There were still about 10 agents on duty at the time. The group continued its protest and delivered a petition to the agents requesting that the checkpoint be removed. The petition was signed by over 600 people. Both residents and nonresidents of Arivaca signed the petition.
The protesters' primary concern involves whether the checkpoint is constitutional. It is alleged that the checkpoint has caused the local economy to suffer. Further, it has led to an increase in deaths of undocumented immigrants who were in the area. The protesters garnered attention by singing and having individuals speak about the checkpoint and its impact on the area.
In response to the protest, a spokeswoman from Border Patrol stated that Tucson Sector checkpoints have seized 17,000 pounds of marijuana in 2012. However, she declined to provide specific data related to the Arivaca checkpoint. This is troubling to protesters who claim that they have repeatedly requested seizure numbers for Arivaca and are continually turned down.
Local businesses in the area have a stake in the argument as well. Business owners say that profits are down because the checkpoint has had a negative impact on tourism in the area. The real estate market has also experienced a downturn.
Currently, there are 71 checkpoints in use along the southern U.S. border. In 2009, the U.S. General Accountability Office reported that these checkpoints are effective in helping the Border Patrol carry out its mission but also recognized several deficiencies, including unreliable data collection methods that “resulted in the overstatement of checkpoint performance results in fiscal year 2007 and 2008.”
What about the everyday impact? The checkpoint has changed the lives of those living in this area of Arizona. For example, Manuel Leyva has always lived close to the checkpoint and says he experiences its impact everyday. He is constantly harassed by Border Patrol agents when he goes for walks in his neighborhood. “They bother me for no reason,” he said.
Arivaca resident, Christie Trent, is concerned about the lack of information the community receives. She says that it seems that “fear and intimidation” is being used to justify the checkpoint, rather than providing any statistics.
There are a lot of legal issues wrapped up in the topic of border patrol and checkpoints. If you are facing immigration matters and are seeking legal representation, contact my office. I have worked with many clients dealing with immigration and criminal defense issues and I would be happy to schedule a consultation with you.