MISSION, Texas — Now that #BuildTheWall has arrived in your beautiful state in the form of Jason Owens, Maine’s new chief Border Patrol agent, who plans to expand warrantless stops and searches throughout a “border zone” that covers the entire state, allow me to share our recent experience, so you may know what to expect.

By virtue of authority granted to Border Patrol in the Immigration & Nationality Act of 1952, Section 287(a)(3) – legislation we believe is unconstitutional – agents may enter all private property within 25 miles of any U.S. border without warrant for the purpose of patrolling. (The same law gives agents the authority to stop and search all vehicles within 100 miles of any U.S. border.)

At the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, Border Patrol cuts locks and chains on our gates to enter the property. Sometimes they lock us out of our own place when they are done; sometimes they leave the gates wide open. As a result of this practice, neighbors have lost livestock, and that’s just the tip of the palm frond.

“Patrolling” involves dragging necklaces of old tires chained to a pickup hitch on our roads, trails and pathways, because (according to the agency) this ancient tracking technique provides the best on-the-ground intel to field agents in 2019.

“Patrolling” has surreptitiously expanded to include planting motion sensors and installing satellite-uplink trail cameras on our private property, as well as “black box” audio surveillance to listen to all cellphone traffic. Depending on what they remotely detect, see or hear via surveillance technology on the ground and RAID towers rising every few miles, you may also be subject to a tactical response by multitudes of heavily armed agents. Our employees, members and guests, including a group of about 100 Girl Scouts, have all experienced this at various times, during regular business hours. Note: In our experience, all persons, including property owners, are presumed illegitimate and hostile until proven otherwise upon every encounter.

“Patrolling” includes bringing unauthorized civilians and government contractors onto our property at any time, without our knowledge or consent. This is something we’ve discovered through our own countersurveillance program, initiated in an attempt to ascertain the full extent of the government’s extralegal activity.

“Patrolling” also includes altering the landscape by cutting down our trees and mowing down brush, driving off road through garden beds and over plantings, hardscape and sprinkler heads. If you feel you’ve suffered “property damage, personal injury, or death allegedly caused by a federal employee’s negligence or wrongful act or omission occurring within the scope of the employee’s federal employment,” you may file Standard Form 95 and hope for justice on the Twelfth of Never.

This complete disregard for property infrastructure and investment is something that should alarm anyone who owns property subject to Border Patrol’s warrantless entry authority. If the agency decides that your trees, shrubs or tall grasses “interfere with their mission,” obscure visibility or offer concealment to “bad hombres,” they will demand you get rid of them. If you refuse, they will eliminate them for you by mechanical and/or chemical means in the name of “national security” and send you the bill.

And lest you think “patrolling” is limited to agents on foot or SUV, our property – which they have admitted is not a hot spot for traffic – is patrolled 24 hours a day by helicopter, drone, ATV, bicycle, horse and dirt bike, in addition to the first two modes cited.

In case you doubt any of this, much of it is detailed in our lawsuit against President Trump and the secretary of homeland security.

We wish we could say, “Hold tight, the cavalry is on the way,” but in our experience, that would be a lie. This administration has used our homes, businesses, parks and churches within 25 miles of the border as the proving ground for these policies, which have not met with a groundswell of national outrage. For this reason, we must simply say, “Good luck to each of you and Godspeed in electing officials willing to protect your civil and constitutional rights against this agency and the burgeoning police state, as you prepare for #ShowMeYourPapers.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.