Video: Confrontation Between Teacher, Border Patrol Goes Viral

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Cell phone video of a confrontation at a border patrol checkpoint is stirring up new controversy in the immigration debate.

California teacher Shane Parmely posted a video of border patrol agents detaining her at a checkpoint in New Mexico, about 35 miles from the border, after she refused to say if she was a U.S. citizen. The video has many wondering if she was within her rights or had an obligation to comply.

Border Patrol Agent: Are you United States citizens?

Shane: Are we crossing a border?

Border Patrol Agent: Are you United States citizens?

Shane: I’ve never been asked if I’m a citizen before when I’m traveling down the road.

When Parmely was stopped at the border patrol station, she refused to answer the agent’s questions.

Shane: You can ask me. I don’t have to answer…..Am I free to go or are you detaining me?

Border Patrol Agent: You are being detained ma’am.

The middle school teacher says she did it after hearing her Latino friends talk about their experiences at checkpoints.

“It made me sick to be asked, knowing what my friends have been through. It just made me physically ill,” said Parmely.

“They do more than ask that I’m a citizen. They will ask where my kids go to school, they’ll ask what grades they’re in. They’ll ask what type of job I have,” said Shane’s friend Gretyl Rodriguez.

Shane: So what’s the grounds. What’s the violation for being detained?

Border Patrol: You know what? Just for you ….U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court does allow agents to set up checkpoints within 100 miles of the border and ask questions about citizenship without warrants.

Shane: What happens to me if I refuse to answer a question?

Border Patrol: You’ll stay here until you answer.

Shane: I’m a teacher. I’m on vacation. I’ve got time.

According to the President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association she does have a right.

“She had the right to remain silent. She had the right to question why was she being detained,” said Victor Nieblas.

As for what other avenues border patrol agents could take to verify citizenship, Nieblas said, “Well they need a reasonable suspicion that the individual is either committing a crime or is here unlawfully and that’s difficult to ascertain.”

On Facebook, some applauded Parmely’s activism while others criticized her actions.

In a statement, the border patrol said they may detain a driver for a reasonable amount of time until they can make a determination about immigration status.

It says its policy is to treat all individuals with dignity and respect.

Parmely says she was let go after 90 minutes without answering the question.

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