Mar 04 2014

How CBP abuses US citizens at (and near) borders

NPR’s “On The Media” has been reporting on a variety of abuses of US citizens by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “one of the least transparent federal agencies.” This week’s show, “Secrecy At The Border,” is a particularly moving hour-long compilation of personal stories from the CBP’s victims and their families.

You should listen to these interviews if you think you have nothing to fear from the CBP because:

  1. “I’m a US citizen.” Everyone interviewed on the show is a US citizen.
  2. “I’m not doing anything wrong.” None of those interviewed was charged with any violation of the law.
  3. “I don’t travel abroad, and I’m not trying to cross the US border.” Those interviewed include people detained while traveling within the US, up to 100 miles away form any border or coastline, and families of US citizens killed by CBP on the US side of the border.

The litany of CBP abuses includes warrantless hours-long detention and interrogation (if anything like this has happened to you, here’s how to request CBP’s files about your international travel and border crossings), intrusive searches of electronic devices and data, forcible body-cavity searches amounting to rape, and use of deadly force. A members of Congress who tried to find out when CBP claims the authority to kill US citizens on US soil describes being told that if there are any CBP guidelines for use of deadly force against citizens, they are a secret that the agency won’t divulge even to Congress.