The “Constitution Free Zone” and the Mexican Repatriation explained in the age of Trump
September 1, 2018 – Bill Kubota, Detroit Public Television’s One Detroit

Detroiter Jeffrey Nolish says he was racially profiled in Dearborn, Michigan, part of the 100 mile zone.

If you’re born in the United States you’re a U.S. citizen, right?

A recent report in the Washington Post tells the story of several cases where U.S. born people of Mexican ancestry have been denied passports.

While the denials are tied questionable birth certificates of babies delivered by midwives many decades ago, the Trump administration appears to be stepping up the passport denials and in some cases, passport revocations and deportations.

Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the largest law enforcement agency in the country is looking to fill hundreds of jobs.

CBP is empowered to guard ports of entry and anywhere within 100 miles of U.S. borders, geographically covering about two thirds of our country’s population.

Within this 100 mile zone the CBP operates recurring checkpoints searching for drugs and illegal immigrants, as in this report from New Hampshire shows the backups on the state’s major interstate highway.

Along with checkpoints have come searches on commuter rail and bus lines.

The American Civil Liberties Union calls the one-hundred-mile zone the “Constitution Free Zone” where rights against personal search and seizure do not necessarily apply.

A look at the ACLU map shows all of the state of Michigan lies within the “Constitution Free Zone.”

The ACLU’s 100 mile zone map. 

The actions of the Trump administration have historical precedent in government actions like “Operation Wetback” in the 1950s and the Mexican Repatriation of the 1930s.

Detroit Public Television’s One Detroit has been creating short videos to put some of these events in context.

One Detroit’s Will Glover explains the “Constitution Free Zone” with a local case of racial profiling on a commuter train while Detroiter Elena Herrada explains how the Mexican Repatriation happened, sending an estimated one million people of Mexican descent to Mexico, the majority of them U.S. citizens.

These videos will be part of DPTV’s new initiative and broadcast program One Detroit, hosted by Christy McDonald with Stephen Henderson and Nolan Finley.