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The Rise of Vigilantism at Immigration and Customs Checkpoints

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As a conservative who dedicated my entire adult life volunteering to protect and defend this great nation, I have never been so disappointed in some of my fellow citizens. Many Americans believe they know the law merely because they have studied the U.S. Constitution. With knowledge of our Constitution, some of these individuals believe it is their right to act as vigilantes.

Some citizens are promoting vigilantism neglecting the fact that laws created in conformity with the Constitution exist and have been upheld in the Supreme Court for many years.

Recently, social media has been saturated with homemade videos of citizens demonstrating a failure to cooperate with federal law enforcement officials -- specifically at border check points.

Most of this vigilantism incubates due to the fear-based society in which we live. Many Americans fear the United States has turned into a police state ever since President Obama took office. Unfortunately, their articulation of such is misleading, often conflicting with historical reality.

It is critical to understand that cases involving vehicular checkpoints brought to the Supreme Court have been established granting law enforcement agencies to conduct vehicular checkpoints. In 1990, one of the most controversial Supreme Court cases related to vehicular checkpoints unfolded.

Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz was brought in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1990. This case has served as the forefront for all police agencies to conduct vehicular checkpoints today.

Chief Justice Rehnquist specifically explained vehicular checkpoints do not infringe upon the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

This case poses the question whether a State's use of highway sobriety checkpoints violates the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. We hold that it does not, and therefore reverse the contrary holding of the Court of Appeals of Michigan.

Fourteen years earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled similarly when they heard the case of the United States v. Martinez-Fuerte.

The Border Patrol's routine stopping of a vehicle at a permanent checkpoint located on a major highway away from the Mexican border for brief questioning of the vehicle's occupants is consistent with the Fourth Amendment, and the stops and questioning may be made at reasonably located checkpoints in the absence of any individualized suspicion that the particular vehicle contains illegal aliens.

Both of these cases discuss vehicular checkpoints within the internal sovereignty of the United States. They also clarify how not only the Fourth Amendment is not infringed by such checkpoints, but also include how the Fourteenth Amendment remains protected equally.

No matter your political flavor, it is critical to understand case laws have been established by our Supreme Court upholding the U.S. Constitution. These laws have been in place for many years long before this current administration took office.

Republicans and Democrats alike, in all three branches of government, have passed controversial laws many believe have led us into a police state.

While it is completely understood why many might not like or appreciate certain laws, it does not give anyone a right to violate them. Nor should such despise be used to unnecessarily cause greater stress to those serving in an already stressful occupation like our law enforcement officials. A little respect goes a long way.

There is no question that some law enforcement officials have abused their powers. However, the majority who wear a badge do so honorably. They perform their duties no different than the very reasons our military service members fight our enemies -- to ensure we sleep safely at night.

Taking the law into your own hands can prove extremely dangerous. There are numerous cases of vigilantism inside the United States. In fact, some could argue our Founding Fathers were vigilantes -- others would contradict such statements simply saying they were vigilant patriots.

Our Founding Fathers understood foreign and domestic threats. Today, the United States faces a plethora of threats -- many of which have been known to infiltrate the U.S. via our land borders.

Sometimes in order to protect a nation, we must all learn to give a little. Let's stop the vigilante nonsense on the border and support, by giving a little more respect, to our law enforcement who attempt to detect and detain those who wish us harm.

Kerry Patton, a combat disabled veteran, is author of Contracted: America's Secret Warriors.