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Mapping Who Lives in Border Patrol's '100-Mile Zone' (2018) (citylab.com)
81 points by aaronbrethorst 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments

Unfortunately, the map isn't accurate. The actual definition of the "100 mile zone" comes from 8 CFR 287 (see https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/8/287.1), which says:

> The term external boundary, as used in section 287(a)(3) of the Act, means the land boundaries and the territorial sea of the United States extending 12 nautical miles from the baselines of the United States determined in accordance with international law.

What does that mean? That means that the 100-mile radius does not start from the Chesapeake Bay, it starts from about 13 miles off the Eastern Shore. Washington, D.C., for example, is not within this zone. Nor is Chicago or any part of Illinois within the zone--Lake Michigan doesn't have any 12-nautical mile basis to start counting from.

The ACLU, MIT researchers, think tank representatives and the border patrol itself contradict your claim in the article.



Neither of your sources clarifies the interpretation I gave or offers any sort of refutation. The link I gave and the text I copied provides the definition of "external boundary" for these purposes.

The 100-mile border zone is being enforced. Are you contradicting the news articles, videos and other first-hand accounts of raids taking place far from the border? The evidence is right in front of your eyes.

I'm not disputing that there is a 100-mile border zone.

I'm disputing that the depiction of the border zone is inaccurate with respect to the water borders, which greatly skews the map around the Chesapeake Bay and Lake Michigan.

If you want to convince me that my interpretation is wrong, please either:

a) Provide a link to a court ruling or CBP interpretation that the 100 miles starts at the coast and not the international waters boundary at 12nmi, or

b) Provide a link to evidence that checkpoints are being conducted under the provision of this regulation that are occurring within 100 miles of the coast but not within 100 miles of the international waters boundary.

The ACLU page includes the following claim:

> And still CBP cheats its way to more interior encroachment, for example, by claiming that the Great Lakes shared with Canada are “functional equivalents of the border” so that all of Michigan and Chicago are in its reach.

Unfortunately it doesn't seem to provide any support for that, but presumably they have some basis for saying that.

Their basis is that they have documents from CBP claiming authority over a "functional equivalent" of the border, but they do not themselves agree with that assessment. There's a page they have with documents from a FOIA lawsuit where they more or less say that directly.

Lake Michigan is not shared with Canada. Chicago is not within 100 miles of Lake Huron, Lake Erie, or Lake Superior.

I'm sure it's not legally relevant but, hydrologically speaking, Michigan and Huron are a single lake.

If the cbp itself claims authority then a court ruling either way is irrelevant since courts generally won't preemptively judge unless someone shows standing to bring about a suit, which doesn't happen until after the cbp asserts it's authority with direct action.

You can moot just about any argument about the law with this argument, so that's not a very interesting rebuttal.

My point was exactly that point about the parent, so, thanks.

No, that doesn't work: he cited the actual statute that backs up what he's saying in plain language.

I don't think you and I are reading English the same way.

Can you expand on that somehow?

B) The article points out that the CBP has killed at least one person 160 miles from the coast.

So, that covers the “but not within 100 miles of the international waters boundary” part of your request.

I’m not sure what that proves except that CBP recognizes no limits on its jurisdiction.

> Nor is Chicago or any part of Illinois within the zone--Lake Michigan doesn't have any 12-nautical mile basis to start counting from.

This makes perfect sense - the actual border is nearly 300 miles from Chicago - but I guess one question is, does the Border Patrol know this, or do they treat Chicago as being in the border zone?

As someone else pointed out, the ACLU seem to think Chicago is included in the zone. I wonder if that's based on any facts they've seen.

The ACLU have documents showing that CBP think Chicago is included in the border zone.

There seems to be two different units being used. Supposedly the border zone is 100 "air miles" which is later implied to be a factor 1.14 larger than regular miles.

So the 100 air miles mean 114 miles, and those extra 12 nautical miles ends up not mattering for both west and east coasts. You are right about Chicago though.

US does not recognise international treaty of territorial waters.

The US has not ratified UNCLOS, but it still abides by many of the stipulations, particularly the 12-nautical mile limit of territorial waters. Given that the legal definition explicitly calls out the 12-nautical mile limit, I fail to see how your comment is relevant.

In an odd coincidence, while I was reading this I received an email announcement about a Cato Institute event on February 4:

"America’s Border Wars: Inside the Constitution-free Zone"


They will be streaming the panel discussion for free on their site. Should be interesting!

Warning: the cato instituit is a “libertarian think tank” funded by the koch brothers. Be very wary of their particular biases

Everyone is biased, and the Cato Institute makes no secret what their biases are.

Personally I prefer to get information and opinions from a wide variety of biased sources, instead of trusting some news institution that pretends to be unbiased.

I wasn’t suggesting who to trust. I just know that I personally wouldn’t trust an organization founded by the Koch brothers to be honest debators, and I know I’m not the only one who would want to know they were involved.

Is this how the inland CBP checkpoints are allowed to operate? For instance, there's one on I-5 near San Clemente, CA, and another on I-8 near Yuma, AZ.

They've never been open and actively checking cars when I've passed by, and I heard that they're only used when looking for vehicles that match a tip they may have received, but I have wondered about their authority.

Have they shut down?

A few years ago I frequently traveled through Yuma and San Diego, and twice through New Mexico, and those checkpoints were always open.

They still exist and are staffed with officers in the building and patrol cars outside, but I've never seen the I-5 San Clemente one actually checking cars. According to some Google Maps reviews, they only use it when a relevant tip comes in, so perhaps I've just been lucky. That being said, I don't drive through the area extremely frequently. It may have been around 5-7 times in the past year.

IANAL, but I think the checkpoints are legal as long as they aren't year round or 'permanent'. When I was visiting friends in Sierra Vista, AZ they told me the story of the 364 days a year checkpoint run down the road.

I am not lawyer, however the border-zone sure seems unconstitutional to me...and if arguments for it Constitutionality rely on the idea that the border zone represents a very restricted edge case, then this excellent article clearly makes that position a farce.

IMO, the idea was that smugglers passed the border and now are moving inland. They should not be safe just because they crossed that line. So they drew another one. In general a good idea but as always the government abuses it.

If the line was say 5 miles you might have a point. But, 100 miles is long enough to basicly be meaningless.

Agreed. Having a zone is reasonable, otherwise people could make it a mile over the border and CBP would have limited enforcement ability.

However, 100 miles seems excessive.

That said, it’s more complicated than “a 100 mile constitution free zone”. CBP can have checkpoints and can briefly question people, but they can’t search a vehicle without a warrant.[1]


Sure, but then there are the warrant issuing dogs.

The government abuses laws set to restrict its power? Color me shocked!

If a first border line was insufficient, they will eventually complain about the second one being insufficient as well.

Just how many do you think they need to be satisfied?? (answer: no amount will do, because the answer to how much $whatever$ the government needs will always be 'more', and limitations will always be abused)

If they really want to bother people in say St Louis, MO that's not near a border by any stretch of imagination, they will create some legal fiction like any airport being a potential border.

I note that the number of non-deportable detentions are well above deportable detentions.

So it certainly seems like the CPB check points are now primarily being used to spot check for crimes other than immigration. If so, it seems that the special rules in the border zone are already being widely used to extend search and seizure beyond what would be legal outside the border zone. Perhaps this is being justified as yet another semi-exception to the constitution in the name of the endless war on drugs.

A few years ago, the CBP was tracking private aircraft on state-to-state flights and searching them without warrants on questionable grounds [0].

[0]: https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2013/june/19/ao...

Hasn't there been a single case that has gone to the Supreme Court over this in 60+ years? Or do they just refuse to hear them?

Judging by what ACLU says, asking about your alien status is all legal. After all, USA does have a lot of immigrants staying illegally. We need them etc., but the agency is tasked with removing them and stopping the flow.

The main problem is not the law, it's DHS doing illegal stuff: https://www.aclu.org/other/constitution-100-mile-border-zone... "The Supreme Court has upheld the use of immigration checkpoints, but only insofar as the stops consist only of a brief and limited inquiry into residence status. Checkpoints cannot be primarily used for drug-search or general law enforcement efforts. In practice, however, Border Patrol agents often do not limit themselves to brief immigration inquiries and regularly conduct criminal investigations and illegal searches at checkpoints. The Border Patrol also frequently pulls over motorists in "roving patrol" stops, often without any suspicion that an immigration violation has occurred."

It's funny how this thing was ignored for 4 whole presidential terms but now it's suddenly a big deal.

There's so much fear in the US of A :( And you don't have to be Yoda to realise what fear leads to...

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