Icebreaker Pt 2 – Confidential Homeland Security Asset Forfeiture and Search and Seizure Handbooks

Unicorn Riot obtained confidential Department of Homeland Security manuals showing how DHS’s largest investigative arm, Homeland Security Investigations, advised its agents to conduct their operations. Part 2 of the Icebreaker series covers the HSI “Search and Seizure” and “Asset Forfeiture” handbooks.

Some of the material presented here has been obtained in court proceedings but is otherwise not generally available. Since the documents were created, new court cases would have forced these manuals to be replaced and updated.

Icebreaker Part 1 covered the Denaturalization Investigations Handbook of DHS-HSI. Part 3 covers Fugitive and Compliance Enforcement Handbooks.

The two manuals here, provided by an anonymous source and released today, never before published in this complete form, consist of 138 pages total.

Update 2/23: Based on this release, see also, how this search and seizure manual helps ICE avoid Constitutional challenges by Eoin Higgins in The Intercept.

According to a table of contents for 2016 vintage HSI Special Agent Handbooks, Asset Forfeiture Handbook HB 10-04, issued May 30, 2010, was still current, having been the primary policy guide for six years. The Intercept obtained an identical manual and published a report on it Oct. 13, 2017. Ryan Deveraux and Spencer Woodman wrote about the significance of the document:

“[Asset Forfeiture Handbook] offers an unprecedented window into ICE’s wide-ranging asset forfeiture operations and the premium the agency places on seizing valuable property. Forfeiture proceeds can bolster ICE’s partnerships with local police departments, which are now the subject of heightened debate given the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration agenda.” At that time “ICE confirmed to The Intercept that the handbook reflects the agency’s most up-to-date guidance on asset forfeiture. […]

Much of the handbook is devoted to describing the process of seizing real estate — homes, farms, and businesses — and it is in these pages that the dual priorities of financial gain and law enforcement objectives become most apparent. While the handbook contains little discussion on how to utilize asset forfeiture to maximize crime-fighting outcomes, there is extensive discussion of how agents should painstakingly determine whether a property is valuable enough to make seizure worthwhile.” – Ryan Deveraux and Spencer Woodman, The Intercept

The manual obtained here is HSI HB 10-05 dated August 18, 2010. Search and Seizure Handbook HB 12-04 dated 09/14/2012 was still the primary policy document in 2016. Thus this manual presented here was only authoritative for those two years. The current manual is expected to be highly similar in its contents, with added materials based on new case law.

Michelle Gross, president of the Minneapolis-based Communities United Against Police Brutality contextualized why this set of policy handbooks is socially relevant:

The significance of the [handbooks] is that it exposes the inner workings of an extrajudicial system that has destroyed people’s lives without due process. This shadow system skirts the checks and balances that have traditionally staved off at least some abuses of power and gives the elite who run this country the unfettered ability to manipulate outcomes.” – Michelle Gross, Communities United Against Police Brutality

ICE/HSI Asset Forfeiture Handbook

ICE/HSI Asset Forfeiture Handbook

The following notes are intended as a springboard to further research on the handbook. Page numbers (e.g. “p5”) are the numbers of the page as the PDF file has them numbered, not the numbers printed on the footer. Download the full PDF here.

p2: “This Handbook contains information which may be exempt from disclosure to the public under the Freedom of Information Act, Title 5, United States Code, Section 552(b), and protected from disclosure in civil discovery pursuant to the law enforcement privilege.” The main groups are Asset Identification and Removal Groups (AIRGs).
p8-10: The US Code statutes for Asset Forfeiture noting that many criminal violations have asset forfeiture provisions tucked away.
p10: HSI must follow the regulations of Treasury Executive Office of Asset Forfeiture (TEOAF) to maintain access to the Treasury Forfeiture Fund (TFF). Also the Department of Justice (DOJ), Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS) issues policies to follow.
p11-13: Definitions of asset forfeiture jargon.
p13-15: Responsibility structure.
p15: National ARIG structure. “The primary responsibility of an AIRG is to target the assets of violators within all HSI core areas of investigation for seizure and forfeiture… Ideally, assets should be seized as soon as practical to prevent their liquidation. With the creation of specialized asset removal teams, the seizure and forfeiture of criminally derived assets has become part of the ongoing investigative strategy.”
p17: Project codes for asset forfeiture: “In addition to the office codes, each AIRG has its own project code (for example, the project code for the SAC San Diego AIRG is “959”). The AIRG program also has its own unique national project code (340). Both are used for statistical reporting purposes in TECS and SEACATS. Both the national project code and the individual AIRG’s project code must be on all case records, Reports of Investigation (ROIs), and SEACATS Incident Reports. … This is important because it allows all case participants to retrieve statistical credit for the overall results of their cases.”
p18: “The TFF was established in 1992 as the successor to what was then the U.S. Customs Service Forfeiture Fund.” Many agencies are connected to this. “HSI is reimbursed tens of millions of dollars each year from the TFF for asset sharing, training, state and local police overtime, awards to confidential informants (CIs), major case initiatives, equipment upgrades, and other case-specific costs that HSI would otherwise be unable to fund.”
p18-20: “An AIRG should consist of one GS, SAs at the GS-12 and GS-13 grade levels, one or more Criminal Research Specialists, an Investigative Assistant, and contract personnel.” Requirements for training and personnel rotation.
p20: General duties of AIRG include focusing on lucre. “AIRG SAs should not waste investigative time and resources on liabilities,i.e., investigations lacking forfeiture potential or assets which do not meet legal or financial requirements for forfeiture.” … “They must also give consideration to the economic impact of each seizure, including the cost of management, storage, possible depreciation, and disposal of the seized property. An AIRG should not proceed with a forfeiture action if it will cost the Government more than the expected return, except in instances where there is an overriding law enforcement purpose.” … “SAs should check the status of their seizures in SEACATS on a quarterly basis to ensure that seized property is forfeited in a timely manner and does not create a potentially embarrassing situation.”
p21: Liason and Case management guidelines: “Not all cases referred to the AIRG will result in seizures, but it is important to document the work performed, showing that the AIRG is supporting the various criminal investigative groups within the SAC office. HQ funding is determined by the overall resource efforts of the AIRG. The tracking of statistics in TECS, which reflects both quantity and scope of cases, and in SEACATS, which allows seizure and forfeiture analysis, supports the manpower needs, the contract personnel, and the equipment expenditures of the AIRGs. ” … “AIRG SAs should periodically review open cases in their SAC’s AOR for the possibility of proactively identifying cases with seizure and forfeiture potential.”
p22: System of case referrals.
p23: AIRG Case Determination and Coordination. Includes investigative steps such as looking for income, “Illegal acts occurring on or in any real property; Properties, conveyances, or luxury items used in facilitation of the act and/or purchased with proceeds;” … “Due to time and resource constraints, some of these items might not be a priority for the criminal case agent. Therefore, there may be a need for the AIRG case agent to seek assistance from other personnel.”
p24: Collaboration on Search Warrants – digging around for safe deposit boxes, credit card records
p24-26: TECS records only created if there is potential for asset forfeiture. Case processing and evaluating seizure thresholds.
p27-28: Project codes.
p28: Investigative Steps. General Guidelines for AIRG Investigations
p29: How to justify seizing real estate using assertions by informants and contraband
p30: Divvying up the proceeds and using informants to find assets, “Identify loads of contraband or illegal aliens attributable to the target, if furnished by the CI, and calculate the estimated amount of money the target would have received for smuggling the load.” Also tax and mortgage records.
p31: Possible Defenses Against Forfeiture, Evaluation of a Property Independent of a Pre-Seizure Analysis, Using Online Real Estate Information.
p32: Requesting Mortgage and Escrow Documents
p33: Investigative Steps When the Target of the Investigation Is Not the Legal Owner. Use an informant to figure things out! Requesting a Pre-Seizure Analysis
p34-36: Pre-seizure information (market analysis). All about checking the value of delicious properties.
p37: Coordinate with US Attorneys and Filing of Lis Pendens and Service of Notice
p38: Maintenance of Real Property Files
p39-40: Seizing bank accounts and businesses
p40-42: Pre-seizure planning
p43: Calculation of Net Equity/Avoiding Liability Seizures; Special Considerations When Planning the Seizure of a Commercial Enterprise; Seizure Thresholds
p44-45: Cars, vessels, and aircraft should exceed $10,000 in value. Currency, jewelry and bank accounts should exceed $5,000 in value. Pre-Seizure Summary Report; Adopted Seizures (letting HSI take over a seizure process someone else started)
p45: Types of forfeitures (administrative forfeiture)
p46: Civil and criminal forfeiture
p47: Parallel Proceedings and Civil process.
p48: Criminal proceedings. Special considerations in AIRG investigations (Criminal Cases)
p49: Plea agreements
p50: Financial Affidavits and Out of District Actions including Real Property and Bank Accounts. Using SEACATS and TECS to track these cases
p51-52: Receiverships and Unique Court Orders, Restraining Orders, International
p52: Joint Investigations, Retention of Seized Property (keeping stuff instead of selling it off)
p53-54: Notice to Property Owners of Illegal Activity. Seizure processing, SEACATS entry, and administrative guidelines for real property forfeitures. “Real Property Pre-Seizure Planning Meeting” and “Pre-Seizure Viewing of the Property”.
p54-55: Post-and-Walk, kicking people off of seized properties.
p55: Non-Custodial Property Considerations
p56: Payment of Real Property Liens. TEOAF controls whether liens are paid. “The process for the disbursement of lien payment checks is handled jointly by the national real property contractor and FP&F. ”
p56-57: Fines, penalties and forfeitures; and “Interaction Between the COTR, the Contract Property Manager, and FP&F”. As Homeland Security has evolved HSI has taken more of this task from other agencies. Also, “Responsibilities of Seizing Special Agents”
p58: Coordination and Using SEACATS to Consign Property to the Real Property Contractor
p59-60: Accomplishing the Held by Outside Agency (HO) Disposition, Adding a Disposition to Consign Property, Releasing the Property to the Contractor
p61: Preparation of a SEACATS Incident Report
p62: Investigations Involving Multiple Seizures, Updating the Pre-Seizure Incident Report for Real Property.
p63: Payments in Lieu of Forfeiture
p64: Equitable Sharing, dividing up cash proceeds from forfeiture with other government units. Approval Authority, Filing Instructions.
p65: Filing Instructions for International Agencies, Sharing and Real Property
p66: Reverse Sharing
p66: Special considerations involving contractors working with the AIRGs
p67-68: Contractor Access to TECS and Grand Jury Materials, Testimony. “Contractors may have access to and use grand jury information while assisting AIRG SAs in the course of their investigations.” … “AIRG SAs and GSs should avoid placing contract employees in positions which would require their testimony later. For example, AIRG SAs and GSs should not place a contract employee in a position in which he or she is the primary discoverer of evidence during the execution of a search warrant.” Interaction Between the AIRG Group Supervisor and Contract Employees
p68: Work Schedule, Contractor Performance Awards, Training and Travel. “The AIRG GS is not the contract employees’ supervisor, nor do the contract employees work for HSI.”
p69: Appendix A – Superseded Documents. Replaces a lot of old policy doucments.
p70-72: Appendix B – Plenty of Acronyms

ICE/HSI Search and Seizure Handbook

ICE/HSI Search and Seizure Handbook

The following notes are intended as a springboard to further research on this handbook. Page numbers (e.g. “p5”) are the numbers of the page as the PDF file has them numbered, not the numbers printed on the footer. Download the full PDF here.

p2: “The Search and Seizure Handbook provides a single source of national policies, procedures, responsibilities, guidelines, and controls to be followed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agents (SAs) when conducting search and seizure activities within the scope of their authority.” … “The HSI Policy Unit is responsible for coordinating the development and issuance of HSI policy.”
p8-14: Definitions and search jargon (p65: Appendix has acronyms.)
p15: Responsibilities involved
p15: Fourth Amendment Constitutional Safeguards & Requirements;
p15-16: Possible Consequences of Improper Searches and Seizures, includes Suppression of Evidence, Exclusion of “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree,” Civil Liability, Employment Consequences, Criminal Prosecution,
p16: The Fourth Amendment
p17: Concept of Level of Suspicion, Articulable Facts including information from informants
p18: Totality of the Circumstances, Levels of Suspicion
p19: Elements of a Seizure
p20: Elements of a Search, Government vs. Private Intrusion, Reasonable Expectation of Privacy, including curtilage, odors, open fields, abandoned property
p22: Reasonable Expectation of Privacy and the Use of Technology, Seizures of Persons, Consensual Encounters
p23: Investigative Detentions. Fuzzy definitions are highlighted here.
p24: Frisks, Plain Touch, Investigative Detentions of Vehicles, Pretextual Stops
p25: Property Seizures, “1) property seized as evidence to be used in a criminal or administrative proceeding; and 2) contraband or other property subject to forfeiture.” Investigative Detentions of Property
p26: Seizure of Property as Evidence, Seizure of Property for Forfeiture. Pursuant to a Search Warrant, Evidence in Plain View, Pursuant to a Lawful Warrantless Search.
p26: Seizure of Property for Forfeiture
p27-30: Contraband, Determining What May Be Seized for Forfeiture. “SAs should determine what, if any, connection exists between the owner of the property and the criminal activity.” … “SAs should determine whether or not the forfeiture of the property is in the best interest of the government.” … “SAs should determine if the property is forfeitable as proceeds or for facilitation.” … “SAs should consider by which process the property is to be forfeited.”
p30: “Proportionality and the Eighth Amendment” addressing that asset forfeiture attempts may be excessive and “cruel and unusual punishment”.
p30-31: Seizure warrants.
p31: Asset Identification and Removal Groups: “AIRGs are located in the SAC offices to assist criminal case agents with seizures of property for forfeiture. If SAs need additional expertise or assistance with forfeiture questions that arise during an investigation, they may contact the local AIRG. If an investigation holds the potential for significant seizures and forfeitures of property, the SAs should enlist the aid of the local AIRG as early in the investigation as possible.
Forfeitures of real property or businesses involve additional pre-seizure planning and forfeiture considerations. Only SAs assigned to an AIRG may seize real property. If a case holds the potential for forfeiture of real property or a business entity, the criminal case agent must request assistance from the local AIRG. The criminal case agent also should contact the local AIRG if the investigation involves any asset valued at more than $100,000.”
p32: Seizures with a warrant, Obtaining a Criminal Search Warrant
p33-34: Contents of a Search Warrant Affidavit, includes no-knock warrants, Issuance of a Search Warrant, Telephonic Search Warrants
p35: Anticipatory Search Warrants for situations with a triggering event like a controlled delivery of drugs
p36: “Sneak and Peek” Search Warrants: “SAs may obtain a “sneak and peek” warrant in cases in which they wish to confirm the existence of incriminating evidence without jeopardizing the overall investigation by alerting the suspects.”
p36-37: Preparing for the Execution of a Search Warrant. Queries include “If there are any firearms registered to anyone at the location”
p37: Operational Plan development: “In some offices, SAs may be required to submit the Operational Plan to the supervisor of the local HSI Special Response Team (SRT) so that the supervisor may assess the need for SRT assistance.” Personnel Assignments
p38: State and Local Law Enforcement Notification/Participation, Pre-Execution Briefing, Notification of the National Law Enforcement Communications Center (NLECC)
p39: Executing a Search Warrant: “Unless the warrant specifically authorizes nighttime service, SAs must initiate the execution of a search warrant between the hours of 6:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M. local time. ”
p40: What May Be Searched may include The Premises, Outbuildings, and Curtilage, Vehicles Located on the Curtilage, Incoming Telephone Calls, Electronic Media/Computers. “SAs may not search an item in the personal possession of a casual visitor to the premises.” … “there is no set time limit for the duration of a search warrant execution”. Inventory and Receipt
p41: Return of the Search Warrant, Post-Execution Debriefing,
p41-43: Civil Search Warrants: Customs Search Warrants, Civil/Administrative Search Warrants Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Blackie’s Warrants (Immigration). “[T]he Blackie’s warrant and accompanying affidavit need only set forth a plausible basis for believing that there are unnamed illegal aliens present at the location to be searched.”
p43: Barlow’s Warrants: “The Supreme Court case from which Barlow’s warrants take their name involved an inspection under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, not the INA”
p43: Searches without a warrant in special circumstances.
p44: Search Incident to Arrest: “The purpose of a search incident to arrest is to protect the arresting SAs, prevent the destruction of evidence, and find specific evidence relating to the crime for which the arrest was made.” … “To go beyond a standard personal search and perform a strip search, SAs must have reasonable suspicion that a weapon or evidence is concealed on the body. Only medical personnel may perform a body cavity search; in order to request such a search, SAs must have a reasonable basis to believe that the arrestee is concealing contraband inside his or her body.” … “SAs may also search anything within the immediate control of the arrestee. This includes the arrestee’s wallet, purse, briefcase, and any other property carried by the arrestee at the time of the arrest, whether locked or unlocked. It also includes any property within lunging distance of the arrestee in which the arrestee could have hidden a weapon or other destructible evidence at the time of the arrest.” … “SAs may not search a vehicle’s trunk as part of a search incident to arrest.”
p45: Protective Sweep: “SAs may encounter evidence or contraband during a protective sweep and seize it under the plain view doctrine.” … “if SAs arrest an individual immediately outside a home and hear noises or see movements from within the home, they may have justification for a protective sweep of the home…”, Exigent Circumstances, Hot Pursuit, “the SAs’ pursuit of the suspect must be immediate and continuous”. Destruction or Removal of Evidence: “SAs may make a warrantless search of an area or item if they have probable cause to search and probable cause to believe that evidence is being, or will be, destroyed or removed in the time it would take the SAs to obtain a search warrant”.
p46: Protection or Preservation of Life, “Examples of emergency situations in which the courts have permitted a warrantless search include reports of gunshots from inside a residence, a report that children had open access to controlled substances inside a residence, and a report of a woman and child in danger inside a crack house.” Consent, Voluntariness of Consent. “When deciding whether or not SAs obtained consent voluntarily, the courts will look at the totality of the circumstances. They will take into account the age, education, intelligence, psychological stability, and sobriety of the consenting individual.”… “Consent may be granted verbally. In some cases, it may even be granted non-verbally. For example, SAs may knock on the door of a suspected narcotics stash house and ask the owner if they may enter. An individual who steps away from the door and gives the SAs a welcoming gesture is implicitly granting consent.” … “If SAs do not believe that they could obtain a search warrant for a property, they must not use the threat of a search warrant to induce a person to grant consent.”
p47: Authority to Grant Consent, The Scope of Consent, Mobile Conveyance Search: “Under the “Carroll Doctrine,” SAs may perform a warrantless search of a vehicle under two conditions: 1) the SAs must have probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime or contraband is located within the vehicle; and 2) the vehicle must be “readily mobile.” ”
p48: Inventories, Procedures for Inventory Searches
p49: Detector Dog Screenings. “SAs may enlist the aid of other law enforcement agency canine enforcement officers, including CBP’s, to use dogs to sniff the outside of vehicles or other property in a public place. Generally, such a canine search is not a “search” under the Fourth Amendment and requires no warrant or probable cause. Furthermore, a positive alert by the qualified canine constitutes sufficient probable cause to support an additional search or seizure.” … “SAs may not use canines to sniff dwellings or the curtilage of a dwelling without a search warrant or consent.” Regulatory Searches (i.e. TSA searches)
p50: Administrative Searches. “The one that is most relevant to SAs is an administrative search of a government employee’s workspace.”
p50: Customs Border Search Authority: “The Supreme Court has long recognized the right of the government to conduct searches and seizures at the borders of the United States without probable cause or a warrant. The reasons given for this authority are protection of the revenue through the collection of duty, reduced expectation of privacy at the border, and national self-protection against the introduction of prohibited, hazardous, or dangerous merchandise. Note: The terms “customs officer” and “customs border search” predate the creation of DHS and ICE and are codified in Title 19 of the U.S. Code. Although the USCS no longer exists, “customs” is used in this chapter to draw a distinction between the ICE SA’s customs authority under Title 19 and the SA’s border authority under the INA, which is discussed in Chapter 10.” Customs Border Search, Customs Officer definition.
p51-52: Merchandise, Actual Border, Functional Equivalent of the Border (FEB). “Border nexus (see Section 3.6) is defined as a situation in which: 1) Either the person or thing to be searched crossed the border, or 2) The person or thing to be searched had meaningful contact with someone or something that crossed the border. B. The SA has reasonable certainty that no material change occurred since the border nexus. This means that any merchandise present at the time of the search was present at the time of the border nexus (i.e., there has been no opportunity to acquire domestic merchandise since the border crossing). The search occurs at the first practical detention point after the border nexus…. such searches may occur anywhere in the United States where all the conditions establishing the FEB are met. The important thing that SAs must remember is that the FEB search must occur before the conveyance, cargo, or travelers enter into the general commerce of the United States.” … “If a person enters a secure customs area, such as a bonded warehouse or the Federal Inspectional Services area at an international airport; comes in contact with a person or object that has just crossed the border; or comes in contact with a conveyance that has just crossed the border, such as an arriving international aircraft, that person is subject to a border search.”
p52: Functional Equivalent of the Border Outbound: “SAs use these “outbound” searches most frequently in cases involving currency reporting violations or the illegal export of arms or other sensitive technologies.”
p53: Extended Border: “the most common situations involving an extended border search are controlled deliveries or cold convoys. In these situations, SAs deliberately allow contraband or other evidence of a criminal violation to pass further into the United States for investigative purposes.” “A dwelling is never subject to a border search.” Scope of a Customs Border Search
p53-54: Personal Border Searches directed at “merchandise”
p55: Customs Border Searches of Conveyances: “Any search that is destructive, however, requires reasonable suspicion on the part of the SAs that merchandise is concealed in the vehicle.”
p55-56: Border Searches of Documents, Electronic Devices, and Electronic Media: “On July 16, 2008, ICE issued ICE Directive 7-6.0 entitled, “Border Searches of Documents and Electronic Media.” On August 18, 2009, ICE issued ICE Directive 7-6.1 entitled, “Border Searches of Electronic Devices,” which superseded the portions of the earlier directive pertaining to electronic devices.” Policy, Timeliness of Review. “SA must also enter the seizure into the Seized Asset and Case Tracking System (SEACATS) via the completion of a SEACATS Incident Report.”
p56-57: Requesting Assistance with a Documentary Search: “For the purpose of obtaining subject matter expertise, SAs may create and transmit copies of information to other federal agencies or non-federal entities. Any original documents and media should be transmitted only when necessary to render the demanded assistance.”
p57: Sharing with Outside Agencies; Travel and Identification Documents: “Even without any suspicion of illegality, for legitimate government purposes, SAs may copy, retain, and share (1) identification documents such as U.S. or foreign certificates of naturalization, seaman’s papers, airman certificates, driver’s licenses, state identification cards, and similar government identification documents; and (2) travel documents that relate to the person’s mode and date of travel into or out of the United States.”
p58: Attorney-Client Privilege: “Although legal materials are not necessarily exempt from a border search, they may be subject to special handling procedures. Correspondence, court documents, and other legal documents may be covered by attorney-client privilege. If SAs suspect that the content of such a document may constitute evidence of a crime or otherwise pertain to a determination within the jurisdiction of ICE, the SAs must seek advice from the local OCC or the appropriate USAO [US Attorney’s Office] before conducting a search of the document.” Border Searches of Foreign Mail: “International mail must pass through a CBP international mail facility before entering the general mail delivery stream of the U.S. Postal Service. SAs should coordinate any search of foreign mail with CBP officers working at an international mail facility.” … “Additionally, the U.S. Postal Service requires that it be notified and present at any border search of letter class mail.”
p58: Immigration Border Authority: “The INA grants SAs the statutory authority to conduct certain types of border searches and seizures. While the purpose of a customs border search is to look for merchandise, the purpose of a border search under the INA is to examine aliens regarding their admissibility, search for aliens who are being transported into the United States, and search for documentary or other evidence of the alienage and admissibility of persons seeking entry into the United States.”
p59: Questioning and Routine Searches at the Functional Equivalent of the Border: “An applicant for admission who claims to be a U.S. citizen must establish that fact to the SA’s satisfaction.”
p59: Access to Lands Within 25 Miles of the Border: ” SAs are authorized to enter private lands located within 25 miles of the border for the purpose of patrolling the border to prevent the illegal entry of aliens into the United States. If SAs must enter onto private lands under this authority, they should make every attempt to notify the owner or occupant in advance. If the owner or occupant challenges the SAs’ authority to enter the lands, SAs should notify their first- line supervisor. The authority to enter private lands applies to the land only.”
p60: Vehicle Stops and Searches: “immigration officers may also board and search any conveyance within a reasonable distance of the border to search for aliens. Federal regulations (8 C.F.R. § 287.1(b)) state that a distance of 100 air miles is considered “within a reasonable distance of the border.” While this provision statutorily grants SAs the ability to conduct warrantless searches of conveyances, this is one case in which the courts have determined that constitutional limitations restrict the authorities granted by the statute. In effect, to stop and search a vehicle within 100 air miles of the border for the purposes of the INA, Fourth Amendment safeguards apply, and SAs must have reasonable suspicion that the vehicle contains illegal aliens.” Stoppage reasons include “The characteristics of the area where a vehicle is encountered, such as its proximity to the border, the usual patterns of traffic on the particular road, previous experience with alien traffic, and information about recent illegal border crossings;” … “The appearance of the occupants, including whether their mode of dress appears to be foreign; Information from outside sources, such as reports of illegal border crossings, police reports, or informant information;”
p60-61: Customs Maritime Authority and Aviation Smuggling: Customs Waters, Inland Waters, High Seas, Authority to Hail, Board, and Check Documents: “During the course of the document check, SAs may seize any evidence or contraband that they encounter in plain view. By checking the documents and speaking with the master and crew, they may also ascertain whether or not the vessel has a nexus to the border and is subject to a border search.”
p62: Protective Sweeps of Vessels, Hovering Vessels, Vessels Failing to Display Lights, and Vessels Subject to Pursuit, Aviation Smuggling
p63: Authority to Request Documents Under Federal Aviation Regulations
p63-64: Diplomatic Identification and Treatment of Diplomats, Foreign Embassies and Diplomatic Missions, Diplomats Employed by the U.S. Government
p65-66: Appendix, Acronyms

Video footage of the warrantless raid with HSI officer during the 2016 Republican National Convention courtesy of Rod Webber. (Youtube interior & exterior clips)

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Unicorn Riot will continue the Icebreaker series with more confidential law enforcement manuals in the weeks to come. If you have information or comments to share about ICE either on the record or on background please contact [email protected] with “ICE” in the subject line.

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