Monday, May 20, 2013

Day 2 of Border Course in El Paso: Enforcing the Border, Jurisprudence Meets the Practice of Enforcement

As I blogged yesterday, I'm in El Paso, TX all week teaching a course on the enforcement of immigration law at the border. In class, the students and I will discuss several cases, including United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873 (1975), in which the Supreme Court held that the 4th Amendment prohibits Border Patrol agents from stopping a car based solely on the agents' beliefs that the occupants of the car are or appear to be of Mexican ancestry. (Put differently, the Supreme Court endorsed a Border Patrol agent's reliance on race as long as he or she considered other factors, such as characteristics of the area in which the car was located and proximity to the border).

Outside of class today, we hope to explore the practical implications of cases like Brignoni-Ponce during a tour of various points of the border between El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Border Patrol agents will conduct the tour themselves and answer questions about the realities of enforcing immigration law. (Picture below is a Border Patrol agent answering questions from students from last year's tour).  

According to CBP's website, apprehensions in the El Paso sector have gone down from 115,696 in 2000, 122,679 in 2005, to 9,678 in 2012. What do border patrol agents consider to be reasons that have led to decreased apprehensions?  What are some of the factors that border patrol agents look for when considering whether to stop a vehicle today? Are the agents aware of Brignoni-Ponce and other cases that shape their authority regarding stopping vehicles near the border?  These are a few of the questions that will be raised in today's discussions in El Paso.

Border patrol agent


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