On January 19, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents boarded a bus in Florida and, questioned passengers about their citizenship, and removed a woman who had just been to meet her baby granddaughter for the first time. That woman's fate remains unclear; her family has not heard from her since, and fear she is in immigration detention.
Earlier that week, we received a tip that CBP agents were questioning people boarding a bus in Bangor about their citizenship. CBP asserts the right to question anyone, about anything, for any reason, as long as they are within 100 miles of the U.S. border or the coast. That 100-mile "Constitution-free" zone encompasses virtually all of Maine.
While these show-me-your papers stops may technically be legal, they aren't right. They make all of us less free. And in the hands of under-trained border agents with little oversight or accountability, they lead to intimidation, racial profiling, and unconstituional searches.
That's why the ACLU of Maine filed a public records request to learn more. We want to know what CBP is up to in our state - how, when and why are they questioning innocent bus passengers? We'll keep you posted on what we learn.