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Civil rights groups file lawsuit over Border Patrol searches

Dec 1, 2016

Border agents can stop and search anyone within 100 miles of an international border, without a warrant. The American Civil Liberties Union and Michigan Immigrant Rights Center doesn't like this.

The ACLU and MIRC are suing the U.S. government over these warrantless searches. Both groups want border agencies to be more transparent about their searches.

Miriam Aukerman, the west Michigan regional staff attorney at the ACLU of Michigan, said the lawsuit is really about holding the government accountable.

“We need to know what Border Patrol is up to, and it's all the more important now than it has ever been,” Aukerman said.

Aukerman says roughly 40%  of people stopped by Border Patrol are either U.S. citizens or are here legally.

“We found, to our surprise, that almost one in three, one-third of the people border patrol was stopping are United States citizens,” she said.

Approximately 200 million people live within the 100-mile zone of an international border, including the entire state of Michigan, according to Aukerman.

The ACLU released a press release regarding the lawsuit that said Michigan in its entirety shouldn't be considered a warrantless zone.

More from the ACLU's press release:

"Border enforcement – and the powers that go with it – belongs at the border and not in our communities,” said Miriam Aukerman. “Furthermore, CBP, as the largest federal law enforcement agency, must be accountable to the American people. This cannot happen as long as CBP is operating in the dark and refusing to provide even the most basic information about who is being targeted for these warrantless searches, where and why.”

Of the records the ACLU has already seen, it says there is no real geographic or demographic information regarding the stops.

Border officials chose not to comment on the lawsuit.