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I hope that it is obvious from the questions my inquiry is NOT politically motivated, but seek to understand how citizens can avoid repeating a similar long-term detention.

A US citizen was detained for 23 days by CBP. The CBS article indicates that the citizen was denied a phone call. After one month, his case was expedited when an attorney brought the issue to the press.

  1. Did the citizen have the right to make a phone call after being detained?
  2. If not, what prevents the indefinite detention of the citizen?
  3. Absent any indication of a crime or violation, does CBP have the authority to detain a US citizen if presented with proper identification documentation (passport card, passport)?
  4. What obligation does CBP have to process a detained US citizen in a timely manner?
  5. Does CBP \ ICE have juris diction or authority to demand ID from citizens in a non-border or non-airport context?

The above questions are posed because, I would like to understand:

  1. Did the citizen do anything to warrant the detention?
  2. Is there anything the citizen could have done at the checkpoint to avoid detention?
  3. If the citizen refused to answer CBP questions, could this produce a better outcome?
  4. Once, detained, what could the citizen do to reduce the detention duration?
  5. What are the lessons-learned for other citizens?
  6. Why is it that the CBP process did not resolve the matter in timely manner and was not resolved until media indicated attention forced the issue? There is a claim that 2/3 Americans live in the CBP inspection zone:

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I realized that the subject matter is politically charged, however, I would like to keep the politics out of the dialogue and focus on the legal questions of the case. Obviously, I am not a lawyer and seek to understand the contours of law and its resulting process.

Update: CBS news indicates the detention of American Passport Holders in CBP detention of unknown duration:

Last week, a California congresswoman visiting the Border Patrol's processing center in McAllen encountered a 13-year-old girl holding a U.S. passport. The girl was waiting with her mother, who had allegedly crossed the border illegally. After inquiries were made, the Border Patrol released both.

Reports of detained US 9 year-old at the boarder.

  • aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/… Keep in mind TheHill article is burying the fact that his brother was in the US illegally, which means mom is not a citizen either, and quite likely is also present illegally. Now if the two of them had fake papers, then the presumption about his papers is not so unreasonable. Also, if mom is being deported, there might be a bona fide issue of what to do with him. Bottom line: misleading, politicized article designed to manipulate, not a place to start a real legal question from. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 28 at 3:22
  • @SJuan76 As I understand it, CBP has the authority to stop and ask to confirm citzenship: if in the course of the investigation indications of a crime is found then they have the authority to arrest or handoff to another agency. If the 18 year old is presenting as a citizen: I think the key questions is: Did CBP have probable cause to detain the citizen and was the detention duration reasonable? Did CBP charge the subject with mis-representing his status (lying) with phony documents at the on set of his detention? – gatorback Jul 28 at 15:48
  • One issue here was that his mother obtained a U.S. tourist visa in the son's name indicating his birthplace as Mexico. The mother couldn't get a U.S. passport for her son because she gave a different name for herself on his birth certificate. It seems there was probable cause that some documents were false because other documents were false. I don't have an answer regarding the larger issue of how long they could detain him. I personally hate the ruling in U.S. vs Martinez Fuerte as I drive through these checkpoints all the time and they've expanded well beyond citizenship questioning. – Dave D Jul 28 at 18:02
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    "The article indicates that the citizen was denied a phone call": I don't see any mention of phone calls in the article. – phoog Jul 28 at 21:52
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    @Phoog. You are right. I should have referred to the CBS news article: cbsnews.com/news/… OP is now updated: Thanks – gatorback Jul 29 at 15:28
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Did the citizen have the right to make a phone call after being detained?

I don't know the rights of those in civil immigration detention, but if he was accused of a crime I believe he did.

what prevents the indefinite detention of the citizen?

CBP can detain people who are suspected of crimes. They can also detain people in connection with civil violations of immigration status, but US citizens cannot commit violations of immigration status. Of course, if CBP does not believe the claim of citizenship, they will treat the person as an alien who is therefore potentially subject to civil immigration detention.

The constitution guarantees a right to a speedy trial. That prevents (is supposed to prevent) indefinite detention of those suspected of crimes. I do not know what procedural guarantees exist for aliens in civil detention to prevent indefinite detention, nor whether a claim of US citizenship would affect the procedure.

Absent any indication of a crime or violation, does CBP have the authority to detain a US citizen if presented with proper identification documentation (passport card, passport)?

No. Absent any indication of crime or violation, they can't detain anyone except under specific circumstances for a very limited period of time. Specifically, they can stop people at Martinez Fuerte checkpoints, and they can stop people who are entering the country from foreign territory. In both cases, they need justification to hold them for more than a few minutes.

What obligation does CBP have to process a detained US citizen in a timely manner?

The same obligations that apply to anyone detained in connection with a crime, arising out of the speedy trial guarantee in the US constitution.

Does CBP \ ICE have jurisdiction or authority to demand ID from citizens in a non-border or non-airport context?

More or less. If an officer charged with enforcing immigration law has reasonable suspicion that someone claiming to be a US citizen is not, the officer can ask the US citizen for evidence of citizenship. If the US citizen does not provide it, the officer can detain the US citizen while investigating the claim of citizenship. Remember, this is true only if there is a reasonable suspicion that the US citizen is lying.

Did the citizen do anything to warrant the detention?

Probably not all 23 days. It looks like someone is trying to cover something up since they claimed that he never said he was a US citizen even though they seem to have filed a complaint alleging that he presented a falsified US birth certificate.

Is there anything the citizen could have done at the checkpoint to avoid detention?

It is hard to know without knowing more about what happened or definitely whether he was detained for civil immigration violations or for a crime. If the former only, a US passport might have helped.

If the citizen refused to answer CBP questions, could this produce a better outcome?

I don't see how it would have.

Once detained, what could the citizen do to reduce the detention duration?

It sounds like not much in addition to what he did. Getting before an immigration judge should have resulted in his release, but immigration judges are very overloaded these days, I believe.

What are the lessons learned for other citizens?

It really seems to depend. Don't hang out with your out-of-status brother might be one. Get and carry a passport might be one. Move north might be one. For some people, none of those precautions would be necessary.

Why is it that the CBP process did not resolve the matter in timely manner and was not resolved until media indicated attention forced the issue?

Your guess is as good as mine.

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