Video shows border patrol agent asking bus passengers if they're citizens

A woman traveling by bus from El Paso, Texas, to Los Angeles last week filmed a video of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents boarding the bus and asking passengers if they are citizens.

The video, taken by California teacher Yolanda Varela Gonzalez and obtained by Albuquerque’s KOAT Action News 7, shows the agent asking people on the bus to show identification and documentation.

"You a citizen? You a citizen? Great,” the agent is heard saying.


In the clip, a woman, apparently Gonzalez, is heard confronting the officer, claiming that he is “not allowed to ask for that within 100 miles of the border.”

“No, it's not right,” she says in the video. “Living in Nazi Germany where you need to show your I.D. within the states, this is bullshit.”

The stop occurred at a border patrol checkpoint near Deming, N.M.

Micah McCoy, director of the New Mexico ACLU, told KOAT that the checkpoint is legal.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has said that this practice is legal,” McCoy said, noting that border patrol agents have special authority within 100 miles of the border. "As the ACLU though we would disagree with that. We believe people's rights don't just disappear because they are by an international border."

Customs and Border Protection confirmed to KOAT that the officer’s actions were legal.

“The purpose of U.S. Border Patrol Immigration Checkpoints is to conduct effective immigration inspections and halting smuggling and other illicit activity from reaching the interior of the United States,” the agency said in a statement. “Border Patrol Agents work within their authority to conduct these inspections within 100 miles of the border as authorized by law and Supreme Court rulings. This important role is vital in protecting our nation."

Gonzalez told KOAT in an interview that she believes the agent’s actions were violating passengers’ rights, regardless of whether the action was legal.

"It really boils down to how people are being treated regardless of how many miles it is, the fact that people are living in fear,” she said. “And yes it's racial profiling, and that is just a violation, any sort of racial profiling is a violation of human rights and civil rights."