Tuesday, February 19, 2008

fearful population = compliant population

In response to this:

Amtrak will start randomly screening passengers' carry-on bags this week in a new security push that includes officers with automatic weapons and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolling platforms and trains.

The initiative, to be announced by the railroad on Tuesday, is a significant shift for Amtrak. Unlike the airlines, it has had relatively little visible increase in security since the 2001 terrorist attacks, a distinction that has enabled it to attract passengers eager to avoid airport hassles.

Atrios said this:

Trains are not planes, and random checks like this are pointless.

I respectfully disagree. These searches may well have a distinct purpose: immigration enforcement. Lately, I have been hearing from clients about immigration searches on trains in upstate New York, even on trains that do not cross into Canada. Undocumented New Yorkers take a risk anytime they leave the city. Any undocumented immigrant anywhere in the country takes a risk whenever he or she rides a train or a bus outside a sanctuary city, a risk that passengers will be stopped and searched and questioned about their immigration status. Those who can’t persuade officials of their lawful status may be issued a notice to appear in immigration court for removal proceedings. This constitutes another step on our national path towards a security state of the kind that would make any 20th-century totalitarian proud.

These random checks are far from pointless.

[Cross-posted at Citizen Orange]

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