Border Zones: June 25, 2018

Dear Mr. VP,

Today I was reminded that in New England, most of us live in a “border zone.”

What does that mean? It means that most of us live either 100 miles from the international border with Canada or the ocean. Almost 2/3 of Americans live in this border zone. Here’s a map from the ACLU, which was included in an article about your rights if you’re questioned by a CBP agent while in a border zone.

ACLU Border Zone.jpg

In a border zone, Customs and Border Protection can set up checkpoints to harass (er, ask) people about their citizenship. Yes, you can be driving down an American highway and be stopped by a federal agent who demands to know where you were born. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem like promotion of “small government” or like it has anything to do with “civil liberties.”

I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating. I have a name that indicates I could be of Hispanic origin. I’m not — but my ex-husband is, and as such, so is our kid. Today, when I read an article about CBP checkpoints in Maine and New Hampshire, I texted said ex-husband. Did he think it was overkill to start carrying birth certificates or passports in the car for myself and our kid? No, he said. He’s thought about it himself. Copies of these things will be in my glove compartment tomorrow.

Our president has used his official pulpit to espouse a “deport without due process” line. That’s pretty terrifying for a number of reasons, and doesn’t exactly make me want to end up in an involved conversation with a CBP agent at a highway checkpoint about where I was born and where my name is from, particularly with my kid in the backseat. Names and languages spoken aren’t supposed to be counted as “reasonable suspicion” that I might be here illegally, but recently, CBP agents have spoken about using accents to identify potentially undocumented people, so who knows what’s on or off the table.



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