I've been increasingly interested in U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's expanded use of so-called "internal checkpoints" and roving patrols along -- but up to a hundred miles south of -- the Canadian border. Despite the Fourth Amendment, Border Patrol stops and questions people engaged in purely domestic travel at highway stops, bus stations, or aboard moving trains far from the actual border. The agency maintains that current case law theoretically endorses such stops within 100 air miles of the border or ocean, a definition that includes most of the major cities in the United States, and the entirety of the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Florida, and Hawaii.
As I report in this week's edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education, this is creating a climate of fear among international students and scholars at some higher education institutions lying within this expanded border zone because Border Patrol is reportedly refusing to recognize certain categories of legitimate immigration documents, resulting in the detention of people here entirely legally.
I was disappointed that Customs and Border Patrol failed to agree to my interview requests or to answer written questions about this issue over several weeks. Hopefully they will be more forthcoming going forward, as it would be interesting to understand how they see the issue and regulations.
I am an award-winning journalist and author of American Nations, American Character, Ocean's End, The Lobster Coast, and The Republic of Pirates. I'm a staffer at the Portland Press Herald, where I won a 2012 George Polk Award for my investigative reporting and was named a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist.