Traffic checkpoints during the holidays for drunk drivers are fairly common, but since Sept. 15 the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has set up checkpoints in the Rio Grande Valley, which is located in the southern part of the state.
In an article today for TheMonitor.com, DPS director Steve McCraw wrote:
We have established temporary traffic regulatory checkpoints in the Rio Grande Valley designed to promote compliance with the laws governing driver license, insurance and vehicle safety regulations... This short-term effort was conceived as a response to various criminal activities and unsafe driving behaviors identified in South Texas.
However, not all Rio Grande valley residents support the checkpoints. Some believe they are targeting undocumented immigrants, which the DPS denies:
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It is important for everyone to know that these regulatory checkpoints have not and will not be used to ascertain immigration status. Moreover, reports that Border Patrol agents are present at these checkpoints are blatantly false. Such false allegations do a disservice to the public by spreading inaccurate information to their communities and unnecessarily alarming the public.
A Facebook page, "Alerta de Retenes 956," was recently set up to share information about where the random checkpoints are set up. The page has 51,000 "likes" since being set up last Tuesday.
"I think they're using them as an excuse to not only look for drug traffickers but to find other infractions," said Immigration attorney Carlos Garcia.
Garcia says the checkpoints allow authorities to get around accusations of "profiling" because they stop everyone who passes through. He adds that the checkpoints are set up in rural poor communities, reports ValleyCentral.com.
Some Rio Granda Valley residents support the checkpoints because they crackdown on drivers with no licenses and no insurance.