Shane Parmely, a San Diego middle school teacher, was detained for more than an hour at a checkpoint in New Mexico because she refused to tell Border Patrol agents if she was a US citizen.
A Border Patrol agent asks, "Citizens?" as Parmely drives up to the stop with her window down.
She answers: "Are we crossing a border? I've never been asked if I'm a citizen before when I"m traveling down the road."
After some back and forth between Parmely and the agent, who told her she had to answer his questions, she responded: "You can ask, but I don't have to answer."
"You are required to answer an immigration question," he said. "You are not required to answer any other questions."
She eventually asks if she can go or if she is being detained. He responds: "You are being detained, ma'am."
He pulled a card out of his wallet with information about immigration law and the Supreme Court case United States v. Martinez-Fuerte.
The 1976 decision allowed US Border Patrol to set up checkpoints within 100 miles of the border, which are not a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Over the course of her being detained, Parmely had interactions with several Border Patrol agents and even took a nap.
At one point when her son asked to use the bathroom, an agent said he could not use the bathroom until Parmely said if she was a citizen or not. A different agent later escorted him to the bathroom.
Parmely was eventually let go without having to answer the agents' questions.
Border Patrol may stop vehicles at certain checkpoints to:
(1) ask a few, limited questions to verify citizenship of the vehicles’ occupants and
(2) visually inspect the exterior of a vehicle.
Agents may send any vehicle to a secondary inspection area for the same purpose: brief questioning and visual inspection.
Agents should not ask questions unrelated to verifying citizenship, nor can they hold you for an extended time without cause.
Even though you always have the right to remain silent, if you don’t answer questions to establish your citizenship, officials may detain you longer in order to verify your immigration status.
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