A middle school teacher was detained for over an hour by U.S. Border Patrol agents, after she refused to comply with their “citizenship check,” when driving through New Mexico — inside the United States — far from the Mexican border.
Shane Parmely, a teacher at Bell Middle School in San Diego, refused to answer when she was asked by a border patrol agent if she was a “citizen.” She told ABC 10 that she did not comply with the officers to protest the fact that border agents have been unjustly targeting and profiling Latino drivers.
When Parmely pulled up to the checkpoint, in a car with her two children, one of the officers demanded to know if they were citizens.
“Citizens?” the agent barked.
“Are we crossing a border?” Parmely responded.
“No. Are you United States citizens?” the agent repeated.
“Are we crossing a border? I’ve never been asked if I’m a citizen before when I’m traveling down the road,” Parmely repeated defiantly.
When Parmely attempted to assert her rights, the agent told her that “You are required to answer an immigration question. You are not required to answer any other questions.”
Then Parmely asked the agent, “So if I just come through and say, ‘Yes, I’m a citizen,’ I can just go ahead?”
“If the agent is justified by the answer, then yes,” he responded.
Parmely then explained that she knew people who were unjustly targetted because of the color of their skin. “So if I have an accent, and I’m brown, can I just say, ‘Yes,’ and go ahead or do I have to prove it? I have a bunch of teacher friends who are sick of their kids being discriminated against,” she said.
Parmely continued to stand her ground, and she was eventually let go without answering the agents’ questions.
Entire video at the end of the article.
In response to the incident, Border Patrol Spokesman Mark Endicott released a statement justifying the actions of the agents:
“Border Patrol checkpoints are a critical tool for the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws. At a Border Patrol checkpoint, an agent may question a vehicle’s occupants about their citizenship, place of birth, and request document proof of immigration status, how legal status was obtained and make quick observations of what is in plain view in the interior of the vehicle. During the course of the immigration inspection, if an occupant refuses to answer an agent’s questions, the agent may detain the driver for a reasonable amount of time until he or she can make a determination regarding the occupant’s immigration status.”
In a Facebook post after the encounter, Parmely said, “Enforcing racist laws perpetuates institutional racism. I’m sick of helping perpetuate racist laws just because I’m not inconvenienced by them.”
When Parmely refused to tell the agents whether or not she was a citizen, one of the officers showed her a card showing the current immigration laws and a supreme court decision that allegedly gives them the right to ask drivers if they are citizens—if they happen to be within 100 miles of the US border. This ruling has created what many activists have called a “constitution free zone.” Two-thirds of the United States’ population, about 200 million people live in this area.
It is important to mention that these powers are disputed by the American Civil Liberties Union, who suggests that border patrol agents claim to have more authority than they actually do.
According to the ACLU:
“8 U.S.C. § 1357(a)(3) addresses CBP officials’authority to stop and conduct searches on vessels, trains, aircraft, or other vehicles anywhere within ‘a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States.’ Without further statutory guidance, regulations alone expansively define this ‘reasonable distance’ as 100 air miles from any external boundary of the U.S., including coastal boundaries, unless an agency official sets a shorter distance.1CBP agentscan also even enter private property without a warrant (excepting dwellings) within 25 miles of any border. In this 100-mile zone, CBP has claimed certain extra-constitutional powers. For instance, Border Patrol claims the authority tooperate immigration checkpoints. Agents, nevertheless, cannot pull anyone over without ‘reasonable suspicion’ of an immigration violation or crime (more than just a ‘hunch’). Similarly, courts have determined that outside of Ports of Entry Border Patrol cannot search vehicles in the 100-mile zone without a warrant or ‘probable cause’ (a reasonable belief, based on the circumstances, that an immigration violation or crime has occurred). In practice, Border Patrol agents routinely ignore or misunderstand the limits of their legal authority, violating the constitutional rights of innocent people. Although the 100-mile border zone is not literally ‘Constitution-free,’ CBP frequently acts like it is.”