According to the Customs and Border Protection website, immigration officers may, without a warrant, "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. 8 CFR 287 (a)(1) defines reasonable distance as 100 air miles from the border."
As part of their work securing borders, they can also "question occupants of vehicles about their citizenship, request document proof of immigration status, and make quick observations of what is in plain view in the interior of the vehicle."
Places within 100 air miles of the border include cities people don't think of as border cities, such as Columbia, SC, and Columbus, OH, the American Civil Liberties Union said. Nine of the 10 largest cities in the U.S. also fall within this zone.
The ACLU claims the agency is running amok at the expense of people's civil liberties.
"Given Border Patrol's lack of transparency, and in the absence of any meaningful oversight, there is still much that we don't know about the full extent and impact of these interior 'border enforcement' operations,'" the organization said.
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