Saturday, June 23, 2018

Surrounded by the Pale

Via American Civil Liberties Association.

I'm obsessed with this map (h/t emptywheel), which is being promoted by the ACLU, to make an important point: There are parts of the United States where the Fourth Amendment doesn't fully apply, where the Customs and Border Patrol is authorized to establish checkpoints where they can stop and search anybody without a warrant, on "reasonable suspicion" of an immigration violation or crime, and of course in practice
Border Patrol agents routinely ignore or misunderstand the limits of their legal authority in the course of individual stops, resulting in violations of the constitutional rights of innocent people. These problems are compounded by inadequate training for Border Patrol agents, a lack of oversight by CBP and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the consistent failure of CBP to hold agents accountable for abuse.
It's just what sounds like a very small part of our enormous country, everyplace that's less than 100 miles from an external border, but it turns out that, as the map illustrates, that covers almost two thirds of the population. Thus the Constitution fails to protect most Americans, a pretty large majority, from these kinds of abuse.

But the map also dramatically corroborates all your suspicions about the craziness of American political geography, as you recognize what's in that 100-mile band: all of Michigan, New England (except a fragment of Vermont), New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, Florida, and nearly all of Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, California, and Washington; and how little there is in the vast interior. That "Flyover Country" they tell us about really is flyover country, in that nobody wants to go there, or has any reason to go there, with the exception of a dozen or so urban areas (themselves probably mostly in a 250-mile band, like Phoenix, Atlanta, Raleigh, Cleveland, I think Minneapolis, though not Denver or Dallas or Kansas City). Otherwise it's truly a kind of nowhere, dotted with tiny white-people shtetls, surrounded by the pale of settlement.

You could feel sorry for them, as the judicious newspapers are always begging us to do, with their isolation and lack of economic opportunity and increasing sense of representing a community in decay, but the thing is, the states with, say,  more than 1.75 representatives in Congress for every million people wield ridiculous amounts of political power! Maybe that's what's the matter with Kansas.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

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