Morning Security Brief: Immigration Program Scrutinized, Medical Marijuana Mixes with Handguns, and Border Searches Questioned
Lawmakers question a federal program designed to root out illegal aliens, the Oregon high court has ruled that a medical marijuana patient may carry a handgun, and a report alleges that border searches violate the Constitution.
♦ The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will launch an investigation to determine whether officials misled the public over its Secure Communities program. Under the program, local jurisdictions work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to check the fingerprints of anyone detained for criminal wrongdoing to determine whether they are undocumented aliens. Though the program was repeatedly described as voluntary by ICE officials, some jurisdictions encountered resistance and even refusal when they tried to withdraw from the program. Later ICE admitted that local jurisdictions could not opt out of the program. The investigation comes at the insistence of Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). (See Lofgren's letter to the DHS below.)
♦ The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that a retired school bus teacher, Cynthia Willis, may obtain a concealed handgun license even though she also has authorization to use medical marijuana. The local sheriff’s office had refused to renew Willis’s concealed handgun license under a federal law that prevents criminals and drug addicts from obtaining firearms. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the federal law does not apply to medical marijuana users. The case is the latest in a round of cases seeking to clarify how medical marijuana factors into existing laws governing everything from weapons to employment.
♦ DHS should rethink its policy on seizing personal information at border crossings. This is the conclusion reached by a bipartisan think tank, The Constitution Project. In a report, the group noted that warrantless border searches often result in the seizure of laptops or other electronic devices. These devices are then sent to another location where they are searched. These searches may violate the Constitution according to the report. The report notes that the DHS policy “by permitting searches to be carried out without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing long after the traveler has crossed the border, may contravene well-established Fourth Amendment principles.” (See the report below.)