U.S. Border Patrol goes Big Brother in Washington State

J. T. Glover says: "This is an article from the Seattle Times about how the U.S. Border Patrol is questioning U.S. citizens traveling within the U.S. (from island to mainland) on the grounds that some of them might be terrorists. When pressed, a deputy chief patrol agent for the area admitted that anyone stopped who refuses to answer questions–as is their legal right–is let go. Clever terrorists escape, citizens are inconvenienced, and an unknown amount of drug smuggling or illegal immigration is halted."

[I]n February, when federal agents started corralling everyone off domestic ferries into a fenced-off area in Anacortes and questioning them about their citizenship. It now happens once, maybe twice a week; no one has any way to know if they will be stopped.

When islanders talk about taking a ferry to the mainland, the joke around town these days is, "I'm going back to America," said David Jones, the mayor of Friday Harbor.

"There's a great surge of indignation underneath the surface here," he said.

So much so that local attorney Carolyn de Roos recently asked three Seattle lawyers to come speak at two meetings about residents' rights and legal options.

Their advice: Don't answer any questions.

Because island residents who board domestic ferries don't cross an international border, they "have a right not to reveal anything about their legal status," said Matt Adams, an attorney with the Seattle-based Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and a member of the ACLU.

"Once they're inside the country, Immigration doesn't have the right to detain someone without reasonable suspicion," Adams said. And ethnic background, skin color or language don't meet that threshold.

But if someone admits to being in the country illegally, Border Patrol can arrest the person.