With the furor over immigration and entry into the U.S. by those avoiding the legal path, RepubliCons pushed for SB 1070 in AZ. in 2010 and in more than 30 states since then. They have had mixed results in getting this legislation passed. Florida is one state that surprisingly failed to pass it. No doubt it will be considered again in the 2012 session after being tweaked by ALEC and Florida RepubliCons.
Most of us are completely unaware that in many states ALEC's model legislation on immigration and illegal aliens doesn't even have to be proposed or passed. For several U.S. states there is already federal initiatives in place that allow for law enforcement - state and federal authorities - to set-up "check-points" to stop and inspect papers, vehicles, personal belongings and if anyone does not have the proper papers, take them into custody. Even before SB 1070 87.88% of Arizona citizens fell under this initiative as did 100% of Florida. Apparently ALEC sees real money in covering the rest of the U.S. with this style of anti-Constitutional activity.
You may find this hard to believe...or you might wonder if this is something new, something reported on that you perhaps missed. Once again we have to look to our MSM and ask them why this "initiative" was put into place without their reporting on something so obviously unconstitutional?
In 2006 the ACLU published an article titled; "Are You Living in a Constitution Free Zone?" The article informs us that the federal government has determined that a "Constitution Free-Zone" exists inland for one hundred miles from our coasts and the Mexican and Canadian borders. Anywhere in this "Zone" everyone is subject to being stopped, inspected, searched and made to provide documents showing legal residency in the U.S.
Everyone is subject to these "spot-checks" or "Border-Patrol" stops. For a look at the actual interactive map detailing this U.S. Constitution free-zone the ACLU provided this link: http://www.aclu.org/.... As readers will see for themselves, several states fall completely within this zone and many more have a substantial amount of their population that falls within these areas of legal searches and checkpoints.
The ACLU advises that nearly 2/3 of all Americans live within this "Zone" and thus are subject to illegal searches and forced to show proof of citizenship:
"Using data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, the ACLU has determined that nearly 2/3 of the entire US population (197.4 million people) live within 100 miles of the US land and coastal borders.
The government is assuming extraordinary powers to stop and search individuals within this zone. This is not just about the border: This " Constitution-Free Zone" includes most of the nation's largest metropolitan areas."
Below is a YouTube video of just one incident involving such a stop performed upon a former government worker and his family. Only a 4 minute video, but a must see to understand the powerlessness felt by citizens who are faced with this kind of improper search and intrusion into citizen's privacy.
Today Alternet published an article on this issue - without making any reference to the Constitution Free-Zone provision. The author, Andrew Kennis makes mention of the SB 1070 legislation in AZ. and seven other states who have implemented such harsh immigration legislation, but informs that each is under some form of judicial review and have not been fully implemented. He notes, however that in each of these states in the absence of approved laws allowing for stopping, inspecting and questioning travelers as to residency, it is still being done with great frequency. Kennis asked what all the events he described in the article have in common - and attempted to provide the answer:
"What do all of these incidents have in common? They all occurred in states that have passed “Show me your papers” legislation. However, none of these states have legally enforceable mechanisms for implementing the legislation, as their enforcement dates are being held up in the courts. As a result, legal experts argue that the police actions noted above are illegal and a reflection of racial profiling.For some reason Kennis left out the involvement of ALEC in the SB 1070 and similar legislation and didn't research fully to discover the use of the "Constitution Free-Zone" established by Homeland Security that is allowing these illegal searches and intrusions.
How does all of this involve the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) with their oft stated agenda of:
"dedicated to developing model policies based on the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty"?
To me it seems this kind of forced "show me your papers!" activity is directly opposed to ALEC's "individual liberty" pursuits. However once we look at the "politics" involved, it becomes clearer. Let's start with former Congressman Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania. Ridge is an ALEC alumni. Following his tenure as a Congressional Representative, Ridge became the Governor of PA., then an Assistant to President Bush for Homeland Security and then was appointed by Bush to serve as the first Secretary of Homeland Security. In this capacity Ridge appeared and spoke at ALEC Events.
During Ridge's tenure the Constitution Free-Zone was implemented in 2005. Of course we now know that both Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group were both members of ALEC during Ridge's years of serving as Secretary of Homeland Security. Both of these corporations were actively pursuing and receiving contracts from the Bush Administration to house immigration detainees apprehended by Homeland Security.
In July 2003, Ridge appointed 13 State and Local Officials as the HS Senior Advisory Committee Members and Representatives. Two of the thirteen Ridge chose were also ALEC Alumni: Jim Dunlap of Oklahoma and Former Connecticut Governor, John G. Rowland. Equally important was the fact that Rowland and Dunlap were not just run of the mill ALEC members when they were State Congressional members. Dunlap served as Senate Minority Floor Leader of Oklahoma and as ALEC's 2001 First Vice Chairman. Rowland was the 86th Governor of Connecticut from 1995 to 2004 and resigned from office during a corruption investigation, later pleading guilty in federal court to a one-count indictment for conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, mail fraud and tax fraud.
Dunlap was the 2002 ALEC National Chairman:
"July 1, 2003, Tom Ridge, U. S. Secretary of Homeland Security, announced the appointment of Dunlap to the Homeland Security Advisory Council's State and Local Officials Senior Advisory Committee. Secretary Ridge established the committee of 13 individuals to provide advice on increasing America's security from experts representing state and local government. Dunlap continues his service on this Council under appointment of Secretary Chertoff.
"August 2001, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) announced the appointment of Dunlap as its National Chairman for 2002. As the ALEC National Chairman, Dunlap led the 21 member Board of Directors and was responsible for setting policies and priorities for the 2,400 member, national association of state legislators. Under Dunlap's leadership, the ALEC agenda was dedicated to developing model policies based on the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty."
At the time all this was going on, CCA representatives chaired ALEC's Public Safety Task Force - and had done so since the mid 1990's. Also during these important years of the Bush Administration, another key individual and ALEC alumni was involved with establishing initiatives and protocol for Homeland Security - Donald Rumsfeld. So during the formative years of Homeland Security we had key people in positions of power and influence who had links to or association with ALEC. We have two ALEC corporate members that were profiting off of illegal immigrant detention and an ideal situation for these people and ALEC in the 9/11 events. With new focus upon "immigrants as possible terrorists and terrorism" it was an easy step for Ridge and associates to implement the Constitution Free-Zone initiative that could be used to funnel money into the coffers of CCA and Geo while ALEC got busy on writing model legislation such as No Sanctuary Cities for "Illegal Immigrants Act", "Immigration Law Enforcement Act" and a "Resolution to Enforce Our Immigration Laws and Secure Our Border Act".
Today we see the results of ALEC's efforts in SB 1070 styled - legislation in AZ. passed in seven more states and pending in around 20 more. We are also aware how CCA was involved with ALEC member Russell Pearce in writing this legislation, how two of CCA's lobbyists worked for Governor Brewer on her campaign and as senior advisers to her there in AZ. while SB 1070 was being considered. As I've said and written for years now, prison and incarceration are one of the primary "cash cows" of the Conservative agenda and legislation enabling this is put out through ALEC. The U.S. Sentencing Commission recently released a report stating that of all the persons sent to federal prison through the first nine months of this year, 50% were Latinos sentenced for some form of immigration violation(s). Again, this is big money and a way for Conservatives to profit off of incarceration. With the transitioning away from prison sentences by states that have been brought to the verge of bankruptcy due to the costs of incarceration, immigrant detention is taking up the slack for companies involved in privatized detention.
Next time you or a family or friend is stopped by one of these random "Border checks" far inside our borders, you can thank ALEC and their influential Alumni holding positions of power and authority within the federal government for being asked to submit to illegal searches and demands to "show us your papers"! Keep in mind that for each person detained and turned over to CCA or Geo through these efforts cost us as much as $200.00 per day per detainee in tax dollars. Think this isn't big business to ALEC, CCA and Geo? Last year they earned a combined $2.9 billion off of incarceration and over 50% of federal prison sentences handed down were for immigration related offenses...and of course CCA and Geo hold the most contracts to house such prisoners in their privately run facilities.
The foregoing issues are residuals left over from the Bush years - but remain in place under President Obama. President H.W. Bush made an appearance at a 1992 ALEC event, giving a speech. In 1992:
President Bush is welcomed by ALEC members at the opening session of the 1992 Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs. Joining the President at the head table were Ambassador Holly Coors, Senator Ray Powers (CO), Mr. Allen Auger of Coors Brewing Company, Incoming National Chairman Senator William J. Raggio (NV), ALEC Executive Director Samuel A. Bruneffi, … Major speakers included: President George Bush; Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan; Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander; Secretary of Transportation Andrew Card; Secretary of Health and Human Service Louis Sullivan; Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Jack Kemp, Deputy Attorney General George Terwilleger.
Then in 2008 President George Bush spoke to ALEC:
"Vice President Dick Cheney will address ALEC's meeting and receive the group's Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award honoring Jeffersonian ideals of free markets, individual liberty and federalism. Other speakers include Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and Colorado Senate President John Andrews."
Together these politicians, Presidents and Vice President helped the cabal establish the rigid Homeland Security rules and initiatives that had us throwing our shampoos, gels, mouthwash and other liquid products into the trash in order to travel by air. How many of us got off the planes and purchased more of those products confiscated? Wonder how many of the manufacturers making those products are ALEC members?
The sound of ALEC today is the merry cha-ching of our money pouring into the web of corporatocracy where it is put to good use funding more Conservative pro-corporate efforts against democracy. This Constitution Free-Zone initiative is just a tool used to fatten bottom lines of corporations involved in incarceration and detention. Today CCA and Geo have both announced they have dropped their ALEC membership. They no longer need ALEC and the appearance of impropriety that followed the SB 1070 exposure of their involvement in that legislation. The stage has been set, the legislation in place and spreading nationwide, why should they continue to spend tens of thousands of dollars a year to continue their influence upon legislation put out by ALEC's Public Safety task force?
The Constitution Free Zone and illegal searches was addressed in subsequent articles in 2008, 2009 and 2010: http://www.rawstory.com/... and again in June 2010: http://www.frtv.org/... and raised the same questions and fears of illegality. reference to these questions the Border patrol points to a Supreme Court case dating back to 1976 provides the authority for these stops:
In the 1976 case U.S. v. Martinez-Fuerte, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that contra the Fourth Amendment, the government can set up roadblock checkpoints within 100 miles of the nation’s borders in order to check for illegal immigrants and smuggling. The Court ruled that if the stops are brief, limited to that purpose, and not fishing expeditions, the minimal invasion to personal privacy is outweighed by the government’s interest in protecting the border.
In between these two articles was another: http://stevescomments.wordpress.com/... which contain the below videos on this issue and identifies one citizen who was terribly abused by Border Patrol agents in Arizona.
Still another article on this appeared in 2010 in "Current": http://www2.sacurrent.com/.... So there have been stories about all this Constitution Free -Zone stuff but where are these reports and articles found? In Alternative or Internet media outlets. The MSM has basically ignored this important and critically violative procedure put in place by Homeland Security and performed by law enforcement - usually by Border Patrol authorities. As the video's shown and statements provide, regular American citizens are subjected to these illegal and invasive searches and interrogations and the MSM remains mute on the subject. I guess we all have figured out why by now - at least many have, anyway.
I thought the U.S. Constitution applied to the entire U.S. and to all of us. Until I began researching this I fully believed that. Now, I know that a large portion of our country and more than 2/3's of our population are no longer protected from illegal searches and stops because they are in the Constitution Free - Zone...where our Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been effectively "waived" by Homeland Security - operating as an arm of ALEC...
(If you were previously unaware of this activity and provision, please vote by checking "I was unaware of this "Zone").