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DACA Beneficiaries Detained at Texas Checkpoint- The Dangers of Checkpoints

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

According to several media reports (here and here) at least 10 DACA beneficiaries were detained in a CBP checkpoint near Falfurrias, Texas, likely violating their rights since the program is still in effect.

According to a CBP agent quoted here, “USBP agents encountered nine individuals at the immigration checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas. The individuals claimed to be enrolled in DACA. Agents validated their claims by reviewing and verifying their documents. The individuals were then released to proceed with their journey, consistent with established policies and procedures”.

However, that verification took hours and caused extreme anxiety to people affected.

Attorney Elba Rochas said there were as many as six DACA recipients being held at the Falfurrias checkpoint after they were detained on their way to Corpus Christi. She received a phone call from a family member of one of the DACA recipients at 10:30 a.m. This person, who has no criminal history, had been detained since 8:30 a.m.

The attorney and family members of the detained contacted U.S. Representative Vicente Gonzales and other elected officials seeking help.

These troublesome developments underscore the dangers of crossing checkpoints, which we had explained previously in Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund. Checkpoints are sort of a legal twilight zone where the normal constitutional due process may be placed on hold.  Legal requirements such as probable cause are not needed to effect a stop and search of people and/or vehicles by agents. Just being in the vicinity can justify questions, searches, and even detainment.

Read our article about checkpoints here.

All persons, including citizens, can be questioned, about their legal status and required to subject themselves to a search of their persons and possessions.

Especially immigrants should stay away from border areas. If you need to get close to the border and/or cross a checkpoint make sure you carry identification and DACA documents if you are a beneficiary of the program. Have handy the cell phone number of your attorney and avoid putting yourself in compromising situations like alcohol consumption, drinking and driving, drugs and drug paraphernalia possession and possession of weapons including knives.

Persons who are undocumented with no valid DACA or TPS should completely avoid checkpoints.