It’s not often that law enforcement officers thank you for refusing to talk to them.
An Border Patrol agent appears to thank a group of people who question his authority to interrogate them at an improvised stop along the border zone in a video uploaded to YouTube last month.
As the car approaches a border stop in an unidentified location, the agent asks whether the travelers are U.S. citizens. The driver and driver’s side passenger, who filmed the encounter, both respond by asking if they are free to go. The agent answers:
Yes, you know what, you guys are awesome for exercising your constitutional rights. I totally respect that. A lot of guys who come through here are jerks to us and you know we don’t appreciate that, but I totally appreciate you guys who are respectful who don’t want to talk to us. We can’t force you to do it. You guys have a good day.
We hope the agent’s commendable behavior would’ve been the same had the driver been a brown-skinned Hispanic rather than a young, white female. It’s clear from the agent’s comments that he presumed the travelers were Americans.
“You all U.S. citizens still?” he asked as the car approached. “Haven’t given it up yet?”
The video was posted to YouTube on Dec. 27 and not immediately verifiable.
It’s one of several videos that have popped up in the last year of people passing by border checkpoints and refusing to answer questions about their citizenship. The Border Patrol may set up checkpoints within 100 miles of the border, but the American Civil Liberties Union maintains that drivers may refuse to submit to questioning.
Nevertheless, some arrests have occurred. Omar Figueredo and Nancy Morales, both U.S. citizens, were arrested and detained for seven hours for refusing to answer questions about their immigration status before boarding a domestic flight at Brownsville/South Padre International Airport in Texas last year, according to Democracy Now!