On today’s episode of the Young Voices Podcast, Stephen speaks with Advocate Dan King. Dan is a Niagara University alumnus, where he double majored in communications and social studies education. While at NU, Dan helped start his college libertarian chapter. He currently works as an editor and blogger for a small town newspaper in upstate New York. Dan is also the secretary for his local Libertarian Party chapter.
Dan wrote a piece for RealClearPolicy, outlining a bill in the U.S. Senate & House to protect individuals crossing the border from having their phone’s and devices invaded by government agents.
Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) recently introduced a much-needed, bipartisan Senate bill to combat mobile device searches. Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO.) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX) also introduced this bill to the House. The “Protecting Data at the Border” Act is a vital step towards protecting the American people from one of the most egregious forms of government overreach.
The bipartisan, bicameral bill would shut down what Wyden calls a “legal Bermuda Triangle,” which allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to search people’s mobile devices at the United States border without a warrant. If passed, the bill would require law enforcement agencies to obtain a “warrant based on probable cause” before seizing the device of “a U.S. person.” It also prevents law enforcement from denying or delaying entry to the country if a person refuses to turn over PIN numbers, passwords, or social media account information.
Current device search policy applies to U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike and allows the federal government to search cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices at border crossings without any suspicion of criminal wrongdoing. In 2009, after concerns were raised about the legality of the policy, the DHS conducted a civil liberties impact assessment, which came to the troubling conclusion that such searches are justified. The summary reads:
“We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits.”
In other words: Fourth Amendment need not apply.
It is abundantly clear that this policy treads all over civil liberties. As the American Civil Liberties Union points out, federal authorities are granted “broader” power near border areas. But those powers do not allow them blatantly to violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
There is a growing isolationism in the modern GOP. The party is no less hawkish on foreign policy, but there is an increasing suspicious and hostility towards the outside world. This isolationism reached a climax last week, when Governor Scott Walker voiced support for a border fence separating the US and Canada.
Isolationist has long been a piercing insult in American politics. A favorite of Republican hawks, the label has been used to dismiss the foreign policy views of everyone from Obama and Clinton, to Rubio and Rand Paul.
President Obama has only increased military engagements, and there is no sign of any American withdrawal. So clearly the term has been misused. But there is more to isolationism than foreign policy restraint. Hostility towards trade, immigration, and diplomacy are all aspects of an isolationist approach. And their prevalence is increasing in the modern GOP.
Opposition to relations with Cuba, and a general hostility towards free trade, and a sheer stubbornness to contemplate any Iranian nuclear deal are just a few examples of this isolationism in the Republican Party. These positions exist despite the Cuban trade embargo costing the US an estimated $1.2 billion in annually, and America’s economy strength relying heavily on its status as the world’s largest trading nation—with $2.3 trillion goods and services exported in 2013. As for the Iranian nuclear deal, it will not turn Iran into a liberal democracy (it was never intended to), it still the best way to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.
But no policy exemplifies this isolationist streak better than the desire to literally build a wall to cut off the outside world.
As children from Central America continue to pour across the U.S. border, pundits and politicians are still searching for a scapegoat. 70,000 unaccompanied minors are expected to cross the border this year, highlighting an urgent need to fix whatever precipitated the problem. Unfortunately, the real culprit that both sides of the aisle continue to ignore is one of the federal government’s own making—the War on Drugs that has incited violence south of America’s border for decades.
Last month, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified in front of the House Committee on Homeland Security regarding the spike in immigrant children at the southern U.S. border. In his opening statement, Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Austin, argued, “This is a crisis that has been in the making for years.”