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Vermont Sen. Leahy Seeks To Limit Border Search Zones

Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont has introduced a bill that would shrink the "border zone" within which border agents can stop drivers and others and question them on their immigration status.

Under current rules, agents have broad authority to stop cars and search private land, under the auspices of patrolling the border, so long as they are within 100 miles of a land or water border.

The distance, which includes sea borders, means that most of New England, and two-thirds of the population of the United States, falls into the category.

Leahy's measure, co-sponsored by Democrat Patty Murray of Washington, would reduce that to 25 miles. It would also prohibit vehicle stops at immigration checkpoints farther than 10 miles from the border, without reasonable suspicion that an occupant is in the United States illegally.

In an email, a Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson said the agency doesn't comment on proposed legislation.