Social media post accuses US border agent of asking Amtrak passe - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Social media post accuses US border agent of asking Amtrak passengers for citizenship

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GREAT FALLS -

A post on Facebook is gaining a lot of attention across the state of Montana. It seems to be a picture of a U.S Customs and Border Patrol Agent with a K-9 unit in Havre.

According to the woman who posted it, she was riding the empire builder Amtrak train when it stopped in the town. She said then men in uniform, accompanied by German Shepherds, began asking passengers if they were American citizens.

The original poster said she spoke with a conductor, who told her they have been doing daily checks like this within 100 miles of the Canadian border but is this legal? We reached out to the border patrol in Havre and they responded saying:

"For decades, the U.S. Border Patrol has been performing enforcement actions away from the immediate border in direct support of border enforcement efforts and as a means of preventing trafficking, smuggling and other criminal organizations from exploiting our public and private transportation infrastructure to travel to the interior of the United States. These operations serve as a vital component of the U.S. Border Patrol's national security efforts. 

Although most Border Patrol work is conducted in the immediate border area, agents have broad law enforcement authorities and are not limited to a specific geography within the United States.  They have the authority to question individuals, make arrests, and take and consider evidence. The Immigration and Nationality Act 287(a)(3) and 8 USC 1357 state that Immigration Officers, without a warrant, may "within a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States...board and search for aliens in any vessel within the territorial waters of the United States and any railcar, aircraft, conveyance, or vehicle". 8 CFR 287 (a)(1) defines reasonable distance as 100 air miles from the border.

The U.S. Border uses K-9s during a baggage inspection or "sniff" not during the questioning of passengers. Havre Sector agents have been performing these inspections daily for nearly one year."

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