LANSING, Mich. (June 29, 2022) — Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) introduced Senate Resolution 157, condemning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Egbert v. Boule. It also urges Congress to create a statutory damages remedy against Border Patrol agents for violations of our constitutionally protected rights and to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 so that it better protects our rights.

The facts of Egbert v. Boule are that a bed-and-breakfast owner sued a Border Patrol agent for violating his First and Fourth Amendment rights. The Border Patrol agent had entered the establishment without a warrant and used excessive force when he threw the owner to the ground after he told the agent to leave. The U.S. Supreme Court tossed out the owner’s lawsuit and ruled that Border Patrol agents cannot be sued for violating our rights, and Congress must decide how to make Border Patrol agents comply with the Constitution.

“This decision affects every single person in Michigan,” Sen. Irwin said. “It allows federal agents to come into our homes, disrupt our lives, and damage our property — without any recourse for us to hold them accountable. This is a direct threat to our lives, property, and constitutional rights.”

Under federal law, Border Patrol agents have an operation zone of 100 miles from the U.S. border, and within that zone they have the authority to search vehicles without a warrant. Over time, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has taken this to mean that they can access private land without a warrant if that land is within 100 miles of the border, even though federal law states that they can only access private lands within 25 miles of the border.

As all of Michigan is within 100 miles of the border, until Congress acts, or the Court overturns their decision, Border Patrol agents are free to conduct warrantless searches and seizures all over Michigan. They can enter our homes, and search our cars, places of work, and property, and if they cause damage to us, our loved ones, or our property, we cannot hold them accountable. 

“This ruling creates unaccountable Border Patrol agents, rips open the door to constitutional violations, and threatens every resident of our great state,” Sen. Irwin said. “This is just the latest in a long list, that’s getting longer, of terrible decisions handed down by the anti-freedom, anti-constitution conservative justices on the Court. Congress must act, and fix this.”