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Customs and Border Patrol Agents are increasingly stopping motorists and bus passengers in Maine to question their immigration status. Know what to do if you encounter these agents, help others to know their rights, and learn more in our Q&A.


Transportation checks by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Maine have increased significantly under the Trump administration. In late June, CBP agents shut down a stretch of I-95 in Maine near Bangor to question drivers and passengers about their immigration status. And earlier the same month, an employee of Concord Coach Lines mistakenly told passengers that only U.S. citizens could ride the bus. Concord has since issued a statement clarifying that the bus line has no partnership with CBP, does not require passengers to maintain U.S. citizenship, and that the company supports passengers’ right to decline to answer CBP questions. As CBP’s presence has increased in Maine, so have efforts to ensure the agents aren’t violating individuals’ civil rights. The ACLU of Maine has filed two lawsuits against CBP and the Department of Homeland Security to force the release of public records detailing CBP’s immigration raids on buses in the state. Learn more in our Q&A below




Bus passengers

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • When in doubt, do not answer questions about your citizenship or immigration status or sign any paperwork without the advice of a lawyer.
  • If you have valid immigration papers, you can provide them. Never provide false documents.
  • You can refuse a search of your belongings by saying “I do not consent to a search.”
  • You have the right to record video of immigration agents as long as you don’t interfere with them.
  • Tell your fellow passengers they have rights and should use them.


Roadside checkpoints

  • If you are stopped at a checkpoint, you have a right to:
    • Remain silent
    • Ask if you are free to leave
    • Say “I do not consent to a search”
    • Film the encounter (just don’t interfere)
  • If you choose not to answer the question, CBP officers can briefly detain you for long enough to determine whether you’re lawfully present, but they can’t indefinitely detain you.
  • If an agent asks questions unrelated to immigration enforcement or extends the stop for a prolonged period to ask about immigration status, the agent needs at least reasonable suspicion that you committed an immigration offense or violated federal law for their actions to be lawful.




Can CBP legally ask you for your citizenship status in Maine?

Yes. CBP has the authority to question individuals, for any reason at all, within 100 miles of any national or coastal border. Nearly 2 out of 3 people in the U.S. live in this expanded border zone, which encompasses the entire state of Maine and most of New England. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld that CBP must have probable cause of an immigration violation to search someone’s car in a border zone, but only need a reasonable suspicion to stop and question drivers and passengers.


Are CBP roadside checkpoints legal?

Yes. A 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision gives agents the right to establish a checkpoint within 100 miles of a land or coastal border and stop and question drivers and passengers of vehicles who pass by about their immigration status.


Can CBP ask questions at my business?

Yes, in some areas. Within 25 miles of any external boundary, CBP has the additional patrol power to enter onto private land, but not homes, without a warrant.


Does CBP have other powers at ports of entry and airports?

Yes. CBP can examine your belongings, including your phone and devices, without a warrant. Learn more about what they can and can’t do at ports of entry.


If I am questioned by CBP or witness agents questioning someone else, may I videotape it?

Yes. In fact, the ACLU urges you to do just that (so long as you don’t interfere with agents). Videotape of recent incidents in Bangor and Nevada prompted companies such as Concord to clarify their position. They also hold CBP accountable and help others better understand their rights.

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