Skip to comments.Traffic Stops Target Illegal Immigrants - People To Be Stopped, Asked About Citizenship
Posted on 11/12/2002 10:38:20 PM PST by chance33_98
Traffic Stops Target Illegal Immigrants People To Be Stopped, Asked About Citizenship
POSTED: 1:17 p.m. EST November 12, 2002
KIMBALL TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Border Patrol agents began stopping drivers at unannounced, rotating checkpoints Tuesday in two areas of Michigan, looking for illegal immigrants, potential terrorists and drug or weapons smugglers.
The main purpose of the checkpoints is to stop immigrant smuggling, said Loretta Lopez-Mossman, acting chief patrol agent for the Border Patrol's Detroit sector.
However, agents also will look for other types of smuggling, and always are on the lookout for potential terrorists, Lopez-Mossman said.
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"It's all about homeland security. Bottom line, we are here to be vigilant about the safety and security of the American people," INS spokesman Greg Palmore said before a news conference Tuesday.
Lopez-Mossman said everyone would be stopped wherever a checkpoint is set up and there will be no profiling aimed at Arabs or others.
Michigan is home to about 350,000 Arab-Americans, more on a percentage basis than any other state. The population is concentrated in southeastern Michigan.
New York, Vermont and New Hampshire are among the northern border areas that already have similar programs, said Mario Villarreal, a Border Patrol spokesman. Officials set up a similar program in northwest Washington state last weekend, he said. The practice is common in Southwest border states such as Texas and California.
The Michigan checkpoints will be set up for probably two hours at a time at various points in the areas of Port Huron and Trenton, both among the busiest for smuggling activity in the region, Lopez-Mossman said.
Port Huron, about an hour north of Detroit, is a bridge crossing from Sarnia, Ontario. Trenton, south of Detroit, is not a border entry point but is on the Detroit River near the entry to Lake Erie and has a lot of boat traffic.
Detroit, which has two busy border crossings, is not being included in the checkpoints because officials are worried about traffic tie-ups, Lopez-Mossman said.
The checkpoints will be chosen according to several factors, including whether officials have intelligence about smuggling activity, Lopez-Mossman said.
They will be conducted indefinitely and may be extended next summer to the area of Sault Ste. Marie, the border crossing on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, she said.
A civil liberties group raised concerns about the new searches. "We believe it's going to be very hard for them to do this without violating people's civil rights, or profiling people based on their ethnicity or accent," said Kary Moss, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan.
Since Sept. 11 of this year, more than 14,000 foreign visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria have been fingerprinted at U.S. border crossings and 179 have been arrested, Attorney General John Ashcroft said last week. The countries are considered as high-risk for terrorism.
The Justice Department also announced last week that thousands of men from the five countries who arrived in the United States between Jan. 1 and Sept. 10 will also have to be fingerprinted and photographed.