ARIVACA, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Arivaca residents who are concerned about a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint near their community now have a national legal organization by their side.
The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Arizona has sent a letter to the U.S. Border Patrol chief agent in Tucson to request the removal of a checkpoint on Arivaca Road near the town of Amado.
The letter followed an effort among some Arivaca residents and the humanitarian rights group, People Helping People, to monitor and document checkpoint activity. It included protesting the checkpoint near its location.
ACLU Staff Attorney James Lyall stated in the letter, "The campaign is the culmination of Arivaca residents' growing concern with the overwhelming Border Patrol presence in their community as well as numerous rights violations of residents at the checkpoint."
Also at question is a sign that asserts the Border Patrol enforcement zone and states pedestrians must not approach too close to the checkpoint. Lyall claims the sign is unconstitutional.
"They have a clear First Amendment right to protest, to video record law enforcement in a public place. They're doing it on a public right of way, and Border Patrol's response has been to cordon off the right of way, to block access, to put 'no pedestrian' signs and restrict the ability of the people of Arivaca to protest," Lyall said.
Bobbie Chitwood, a 36-year resident of Arivaca, said such checkpoints "militarize" their community.
"There's more than just that checkpoint. There are checkpoints all over the country. We should care about that; that we have to stop as American citizens, and be asked our citizenship," Chitwood said.
A Border Patrol spokesperson said the Tucson office is aware of ACLU's request but could not comment beyond that until a statement regarding the issue is released in coming days.