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Civil rights group hosts 'Know Your Rights Checkpoint' at Border Patrol checkpoint

By: Jesse Martinez
LAS CRUCES, N.M. Anyone wanting to drive outside of the borderland comes across a Border Patrol interior checkpoint, and a group demonstration Wednesday aimed to make sure motorists know their rights.

The Know Your Rights Checkpoint campaign had members of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights stand along the rest area north of the checkpoint on Interstate 25 between Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences to invite drivers to pull over and learn their rights.

(Know your rights: Border Patrol Checkpoints)

This is not a country where innocent people are supposed to have the answer to federal agents, but thats increasingly what were becoming, said Brian Erickson, a member of ACLU. If we cant assert our rights and have those respected by federal agents and the federal government, its not a lot different than not having rights.

The campaign takes place months after a woman said she was subjected to repeated anal and vaginal cavity searches without her consent or a warrant.

KFOX14 previously spoke to ACLU Legal Director Laura Schauer-Ives, who was filing a lawsuit against federal agents and University Medical Center on behalf of the woman.

"That our drive, or mainly law enforcement's drive, for drug interdiction and control at the border would ever led to vaginal and anal cavity searches is incredible," Schauer-Ives said in a previous interview.

In the womans case, she was subjected to involuntary cavity searches for about six hours, and she was given a bill for more than $5,000 when she refused to sign a consent form, the Huffington Post reported.

Motorists in border communities report being stopped for unnecessary questioning, subjected to unwarranted searches, and racially profiled, said Alyssa Telander, outreach coordinator for ACLU-NM. We want to know the current extent of these practices in New Mexico.

According to the complaint, the woman, a 54-year-old U.S. citizen, was crossing into El Paso from Ciudad Juarez on Dec. 8, 2012, when a drug-sniffing dog jumped on her, which lead to the searches. Authorities did not find the woman to be in the possession of any drugs or contraband.

For more information on the ACLU-NM, call 575-527-0664.