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Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 5:09pm
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The American Civil Liberties union held a 'Know your rights' information session just north of Las Cruces Wednesday afternoon in hopes of informing travelers of what they can be asked when passing through a Border Patrol Checkpoint.
On any given day there's countless travelers passing through this border patrol checkpoint on Interstate 25 and usually it's just a quick citizenship question and the motorist is waved through.
"I normally get waved through right away," said Jenny Reyes "I've never had any trouble."
New Mexico has five permanent border patrol checkpoints within a hundred miles of the border.
Most are set up on major interstates and highways and all travelers are required to stop for immigration and contraband checks.
"At a border patrol checkpoint you can expect a question about your citizenship status and you can choose whether or not to answer that, but if you choose not to then you're likely going to be detained longer," said Brian Erickson with the ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights.
Erickson explained the agents can ask any questions they like but the person has the right to remain silent.
He said if the questions do not pertain to immigration status the person can simply ask if they are free to go.
But Erickson said they have reports that doesn't always happen.
"Many motorists have expressed they have been detained for questions not related to their citizenship and are subjected to searches that are not warranted," he said.
Erickson said that can sometimes be due to a person race but unless there's reasonable suspicion a person's car cannot be searched without their consent.
County Commissioner Wayne Hancock who attended the session said he has heard stories of community members being sacred to call the police.
He added law enforcement should be transparent and plans on introducing an ordinance that would prohibit all Dona Ana County employees from asking about immigration status.
The ACLU will take any reports of violated rights on their website or by phone at (575) 527-0664.