Leahy’s border-zone legislation would ‘hamstring’ U.S. immigration enforcement, critics say

WASHINGTON — Border-zone legislation recently introduced by U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., is drawing sharp criticism from illegal immigration opponents who say the bill would “hamstring” the nation’s immigration enforcement.

The proposal, titled the Border Zone Reasonableness Restoration Act of 2018, would limit the border zone within which U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers may stop vehicles and search private property for the purpose of protecting national security.

Vermont Secretary of State's Office

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

“This is about ensuring that every person in this country receives the constitutional protections to which they are entitled,” Leahy said in June 28 statement. “Vermonters have rightly been concerned about these expanded ‘border zone’ searches. They believe, as I do, that once inside our country the phrase ‘show me your papers’ does not belong inside the United States of America,”

Leahy and Murray say they oppose instances in which Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents inside Vermont and Washington state recently boarded Greyhound buses without a warrant and inquired about the passengers’ citizenship status. Other enforcement efforts they consider unreasonable include questioning of international college students and setting up immigration checkpoints in Maine and New Hampshire.

Under current law, DHS officers have legal authority to stop vehicles within 100 miles of the border and search private land within 25 miles. The Leahy-Murray bill proposes revising those distances down to 25 miles and 10 miles, respectively. The act also would prohibit dragnet-style immigration stops at checkpoints further than 10 miles from the border, unless agents have reasonable suspicion that people found in that zone are in the U.S. illegally.

Opponents of the legislation say the plan is a concerted attempt to stop the Trump administration’s promise to secure the border from illegal entry, by both undocumented individuals and possible terrorists.

“It is not at all surprising that Senators Leahy and Murray are at the vanguard of this effort to hamstring immigration enforcement,” Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based Federation for American Immigration Reform, told True North Reports.


Ira Mehlman of FAIR: “Despite the fact that the majority of Democrats voted to authorize a border security barrier in 2006 … the Democrats are now unified in their opposition to a fence that would make illegal border crossing more difficult, and Leahy and Murray are now aiming to make sure that illegal aliens are home-free as soon as possible after crossing the border.”

“In the past few years, the Democratic Party has abandoned all pretense of supporting almost any sort of immigration enforcement. Despite the fact that the majority of Democrats voted to authorize a border security barrier in 2006 … the Democrats are now unified in their opposition to a fence that would make illegal border crossing more difficult, and Leahy and Murray are now aiming to make sure that illegal aliens are home-free as soon as possible after crossing the border.”

The Immigration and Nationality Act 287(a)(3) permits authorities to act without a warrant “within a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States” and “board and search for aliens in any vessel within the territorial waters of the United States and any railcar, aircraft, conveyance, or vehicle.”

Mehlman cited two U.S. Supreme Court decisions affirming the constitutionality of the law, U.S. v. Martinez Fuerte and U.S. v. Gordo-Marin.

“Despite Senator Leahy’s unsubstantiated accusation that in Montana, a CBP agent even stopped an American citizen simply for speaking Spanish, there is no evidence that CPB is engaging in unlawful profiling,” Mehlman said.

H. Brooke Paige, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Washington, Vt., criticized the Leahy-Murray legislation.

“One example that would be problematic under Senator Leahy’s 25-mile proposal would be the Port of Baltimore, Md., which serves as a point of entry for marine traffic and cargo. The city is 120 miles from the Atlantic seacoast measured ‘as the crow flies’ due east and actually over 200 miles from Baltimore to the Chesapeake Bay breakwater, just south of Cape Charles, Virginia,” Paige told True North.

He added that reducing the zone from 100 miles down to 25 “could surely create jurisdictional problems, especially in states like California and Vermont where the governors have expressed a lack of willingness to cooperate with officials from ICE, INS and Justice.”

Lou Varricchio/TNR

Don Chioffi: “I am embarrassed by the senator from my state.”

Don Chioffi, a former Vermont state legislator, retired educator and Vietnam veteran, said he was upset after hearing about the Leahy-Murray proposal.

“This is right out of the Democrats’ open borders playbook — this is resist Trump, resist borders, resist security, resist any kind of protection of this country,” he said.

“I am embarrassed by the senator from my state. Between Leahy and Senator Bernie Sanders it’s an absolute embarrassment. …  Leahy’s plan is to make our borders weaker. For all his experience, all his knowledge, being in the U.S. Senate, he ends up showing his disregard for the integrity of our security. I am ashamed of him.” Chioffi added.

Chioffi, who was named “Citizen Activist of the Year” by ACT! for America last year, was co-leader of Rutland First, the coalition of local citizens which opposed former Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras’ backroom plans to resettle 100 Syrian refugees in the area  in early 2016.

He said the senators hadn’t learned “the ongoing lessons of Europe’s Schengen Agreement and Convention which created the continent’s failed open-border policy.”

“Look at Europe — it’s going to hell in a handbasket,” Chioffi said. “I predict Germany’s Angela Merkel will be gone in six months to a year. The open-borders experiment didn’t work; you can’t open your borders and continue to be a sovereign nation.

“While it’s late catching up here in Vermont and elsewhere in the U.S., it’s all over for the open borders crowd. Yes, let’s do immigration reform, the way it used to be, based on merit. Let’s welcome immigrants that want to contribute to America, not take from our country.”

Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at lvinvt@gmx.com.

Images courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Vermont Secretary of State's Office, FAIR and Lou Varricchio/TNR

9 thoughts on “Leahy’s border-zone legislation would ‘hamstring’ U.S. immigration enforcement, critics say

  1. Have you listened to Leahy recently? He’s either in the throes of end game Altzheimer’s or plain terminal stupidity. He’ll be taking the Jeffords’ route out of office.

  2. Almost all illegal immigrants are caught within 100 miles of the SOUTHERN AND NORTHERN US border.

    The US would not be a nation if it did not defend and control these US border lands from illegal activities that are promoted/incentivized (Catch and Release anyone?) by the Dems/Progs.

    The main aim of the Dems/Progs is vote getting, cementing the Hispanic vote in as many states as possible, have them as reliable voting blocs, have them become a large percentage of the US population.

    The US should be attracting the best and the brightest from all over the world, not semi-literates, with little skills and unsuitable experience.

  3. You can be damn sure that if I get stopped at a border patrol checkpoint many miles form “the border” there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that I will answer any question that officer asks. Anyone who does so is a coward and clearly does not believe in a free society. These supposed “checkpoints” are nothing more than an attempt by an authoritarian govt. to get citizens to give up their rights and allow searches and seizures. The New Hampshire Supreme Court found these checkpoints to be unconstitutional and the fact that these two senators are willing to stand up to this form of govt. over-reach should be applauded.

    This legislation is not about border security. Is is about preventing govt. intrusion into the lives of private citizens. The fact that TNP would take this up as anything other than excessive govt. intervention and expense to the taxpayer exposes their hypocrisy.

    • “This legislation is not about border security. Is is about preventing govt. intrusion into the lives of private citizens.”

      On that much I think we can agree

  4. Nearly forty years ago I came home to VT from a Canadian university that I was attending with a northern beauty. We were in love and lived together in Manchester. She got a job as a chambermaid at a local inn. Unfortunately, she was reported to US Immigration authorities and had one week to leave. She did, we were torn apart, but followed the law. I got her back in on a fiance visa which gave us 90 days to marry or she must leave the US. We chose the latter deciding we were not old enough nor financially stable enough to continue with our dreams. It turned out to be the best for us both. The point is, we respected the laws of this country and obeyed them. Why is it so hard today?

    • The answer to your question is that the primary tenet of liberalism is the absence of personal responsibility. Liberals and democrats seek to leverage this in an effort to allow as many people as possible into our country in hopes these newcomers will vote them into permanent power.

  5. Well “babbling” Pat Leahy, Vermont’s Senior Senator again opens his mouth and inserts his
    foot. He’s getting worse than Bernie and that’s no compliment.

    Pat, unless you forgot, the word “illegal” means Illegal. So if you are caught in the US be it
    by one foot or a hundred miles from the border, you broke the law and you are a criminal.

    And this X District Attorney, I guess DC has affected his mental ability to conclude what’s a
    crime being he won’t support the Border Agencies. Now this foolish proposal, the world in a
    toilet and this is his major contribution. Pretty sad.

    Time to retire Pat.

  6. Isn’t it something that a former district attorney is backing illegal immigration in all forms. I guess he doesn’t understand what illegal means anymore. It is really time for him to retire to a porch rocker and he can take the useless Sanders with him..

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