By Guy Page
Gov. Phil Scott supports shrinking the U.S. Border Patrol enforcement zone from the current 100-mile standard, he said at a press conference Thursday.
Noting that Vermont’s congressional delegation wants to amend federal law to drop from 100 to 25 miles the border zone in which Border Patrol and Customs officers may make traffic stops, Scott said, “I would like to tighten that up a bit, 100 miles seems excessive.”
Asked to be more specific about the ideal size of the border zone from Canada or the Atlantic Ocean, Gov. Scott replied, “somewhere between 0 and 100 miles.” He also said he was stopped — during the Obama administration — by Border Patrol on the interstate near Hartford (White River Junction). “They asked if I was an American citizen, I said yes,” and the officers waved him on.
Virtually everywhere in Vermont, except a tiny southwestern section, is within 100 miles of Canada or the Atlantic coast. The U.S. Border Patrol website explains both the purpose and legality of the 100-mile zone:
To [secure the border], they use a layered approach that includes patrolling the border itself, (including the use of electronic surveillance devices), patrolling nearby areas and neighborhoods where illegal immigrants can quickly fade into the general population, and conducting checkpoints – both stationary and temporary. Federal law says immigration officers, without a warrant, may ‘within a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States…board and search for aliens in any vessel within the territorial waters of the United States and any railcar, aircraft, conveyance, or vehicle.’ Federal regulation “defines reasonable distance as 100 air miles from the border.
100 miles is 75 miles too intrusive for Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch, both of whom introduced bills in July to reduce the limit to 25 miles. “We must strike a better balance between protecting our national security and preserving our constitutional rights,” Welch said. “A 100-mile unfettered enforcement zone is overly broad and unduly restricts the constitutional rights to privacy and protection against warrantless searches of millions of Americans living in this zone.”
Leahy said: “‘Show me your papers’ are words that you should never hear once inside the United States.”
A Border Patrol sweep July 29 — Aug. 1 netted 18 alleged illegal immigrants in the Lebanon, N.H. area, not far from White River Junction. Last week, a Border Patrol Interstate traffic stop in the same area detained 24 illegal immigrants from seven different countries and a wanted felon, according to Breitbart News.
At today’s press conference, Gov. Scott also said he wants:
- The Legislature to tighten Vermont “insanity defense” law. He said there are “people who should be brought to justice.” Attorney General TJ Donovan will announce soon whether charges will be brought against the two alleged murderers and one alleged attempted murderer whose cases were dropped by Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George this June because she lacked evidence to rebut their insanity pleas.
- Vermont to receive its share of the national, multi-state Sackler family settlement for opioid treatment. “This is going to be like the tobacco settlement,” referring to the multi-state agreement that has provided millions every year for anti-tobacco treatment and education. It’s “restitution, and rightfully so.”
- To reduce property taxes. Citing a report that middle- and lower-income Vermonters are leaving the state at a faster rate than the wealthy, he said many blue-collar workers are moving where the property taxes are cheaper and overall affordability is greater. “That’s what I hear most – the affordability of Vermont is in question.”
- The Legislature and Green Mountain Care Board to pursue the All-Payer health care insurance, not Medicare for All, which he said “might solve some problems, but I’m not sure it’s the answer. It sounds good – ‘Free Health Care’!”
- To reduce youth access to flavored e-cigarettes, as proposed by President Trump: “I applaud the president for at least talking about this. We’ll see where he goes with this, but he’s moving in the right direction.”
Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.