The following letter articulates the position of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington regarding the Border Patrol's questioning of passengers at the Anacortes ferry terminal. The letter is submitted by the San Juan Island Chapter of the ACLU.

The American Civi Liberties Union of Washington continues to monitor the actions of the Border Patrol in conducting suspicion-less questioning of passengers departing intra-state ferries at the Anacortes ferry terminal. The position of the ACLU of Washington is expressed below and is endorsed by the San Juan Island Chapter of the ACLU of Washington.

In a free society, individuals should be able to expect that they may travel in public without being stopped and questioned by law enforcement, unless there is reason to believe that they have broken the law or pose a threat to security. Government agents should not stop and question people who have given no indication that they are doing anything wrong.

If the government can stop and question people engaged in purely intrastate travel without individualized suspicion, the same logic could be used to expand stops by other law enforcement officials to any state highway.

Enforcement of border laws is important, but for law enforcement simply to say that they are acting in the name of border security should not mean that basic rights automatically go by the wayside.

Suspicion-less mass stops is a scattershot approac - a fishing expedition - that is not an effective use of our resources to promote security. While citizenship checks are touted as a way to protect national security against the threat of terrorism, in practice they are often used to arrest and deport non-citizens who have no connection to terrorism. The result is to sow fear in immigrant communities, as individuals - typically hard-working individuals, often with families - worry that a misinterpreted response will have dire consequences. This does not make our society safer.

ACLU of Washington and
the San Juan Island Chapter