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ACLU Challenges Over First Amendment


according to the ACLU suit u.s. Border Patrol officers detained two men and separate incidents and deleted photos the men took at the calexico and San Ysidro ports of entry joining me is David Loy legal director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial counties US Customs and Border Protection declined our request to be interviewed saying they could not comment on ongoing litigation but David you’re here so tell us what ray askin said happened to him at the border back in April mr. raskins was standing on a public street in city of Calexico taking photographs of the outside of the port of entry building from the US side to illustrate a power point he was preparing to talk about environmental problems at the border in terms of vehicle emissions at the port of entry when several CBP agents emerged from the port grabbed him detained him harassed him frisked him took his camera deleted his photographs Department of Justice itself says law enforcement should never delete photographs the ACLU is also representing in this case a self-proclaimed activist Christian Ramirez for a similar incident back in 2010 what happened there mr. Ramirez had just crossed through the border he’d been in Tijuana with his wife visiting family had returning to the United States had passed through inspection already and was crossing a pedestrian bridge on his way on the US side again when he saw CBP agents doing an outbound checkpoint he was concerned that male agents were conducting frisks and pat-down searches of women he wanted to document that in case it was a problem and just just to have a record of it as his fundamental right to do used his phone to photograph it was approached by security guards was told not to photograph continued photographing continued to sending the pedestrian bridge surrounded by several agents were very aggressive with him one of whom said give me a reason to take you down again took his phone deleted the pictures and otherwise threatened and chilled his right to his fundamental First Amendment rights just very briefly aside from the photo is it legal for a male border agent to pat down a female traveler it might be it might not be you know part of the issue is we want to be able to document we as citizens have a right to document the conduct of our government officials we pay their salaries we have a right to document their conduct CBP declined an interview as i said earlier but they did send a statement to KPBS telling us that they recognized that travelers will use electronic devices while waiting at the port but once the inspection process begins they said that the CBP prohibits the use of these devices in order to ensure the safety of the CBP officer and the traveling public and to protect against the advancement of criminal activity first of all did does the CBP in the suit admit that they did take those photos and delete them I don’t know their position yet we just filed the lawsuit and so we’re waiting for their response in response to their statement first my clients were not in the inspection area they had they were on the US side of the border mr. Ramirez had already passed through inspection mr. raskins was on a public street belonging to the city of Calexico outside the port of entry second even if they had been in the inspection process there was no evidence that photographing event photographing conduct and actions that are already exposed to the public on numerous times a day no evidence at that anyway threatened security there is a fundamental First Amendment right to document government conduct and there have been numerous abuses at ports of entry specifically let’s go back you keep saying there’s a fundamental right to document this there’s a right but aren’t there international security measures when you’re talking about an international border that they say hey we have a right to protect our international borders does that supersede First Amendment right so which the border is not a constitution free zone there is a fundamental First Amendment right to take photographs period there is also another public from any from anything that is knowingly exposed to public view second there is an even more fundamental right to document the conduct of government agents and there is a serious problem with abuses at ports of entry we have filed an administrative complaint with DHS about serious abuses and and violence and excessive force and humiliation perpetrated by border agents on innocent individuals at the ports of entry it is fundamental that we as the pub have the right to hold our government agents accountable particularly at the border are there other court rulings in similar cases and if so part two of that is do these sort of court cases actually change behavior old law enforcement well government officials are bound to follow the law and if we make law we expect they will follow it there are cases upholding the right to photograph and document for example the security measures taken by TSA they’re also photographed there also cases upholding the fundamental right to photograph and videotape arrests in progress by police in public places these are areas and my clients were in areas that were open to the public okay then we’re going in the inspection station so that’s you know that is just moved even if they were we would still believe that their position that CBP’s position is okay we are out of time David Loy legal director for the ACLU and San Diego and Imperial County thanks so much and we’ll have more of your interview from midday Edition on our website well thank you very much

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