U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is inviting public comments on a proposal to construct eight surveillance towers in northern Vermont, at sites across the towns of Derby, Franklin, Highgate, Richford and Troy, along with two sites in Champlain, New York.  Similar surveillance towers have already been erected in other border communities, including in the southwest, with profound, negative impacts on local communities.  

 ACLU of Vermont Executive Director James Lyall: “Vermonters value their privacy and are proud to live in vibrant, welcoming, and tightknit communities.  CBP’s proposed surveillance towers would accelerate the gradual militarization of our region and threaten the privacy, civil liberties, and safety of countless local residents. This proposal should be forcefully rejected.

 Anyone who doubts the impact that surveillance towers would have on Vermont communities can look to other border regions where similar towers – accompanied by Border Patrol checkpoints, roving patrol stops, surveillance drones, and other increasingly intrusive measures – have profoundly deteriorated quality of life and resulted in widespread abuses, to the point that those communities are virtually unrecognizable. Vermonters should not allow the federal government to do the same thing to our communities under the false pretense of “border security.”

 Even putting aside the many grave problems with the construction of surveillance towers in Vermont communities, Vermonters could not find a less trustworthy federal agency to undertake this proposal.  We must not forget that CBP has a toxic internal culture, is responsible for heinous, widespread and continuing human rights abuses nationwide, and operates with no meaningful oversight or accountability.  

 We have witnessed Border Patrol agents abducting protesters off of American streets, forcibly separating thousands of children from their parents, and routinely violating the rights and liberties of countless travelers.  Rather than constructing surveillance towers and militarizing our communities, we should be dismantling and replacing a rogue agency that in no way represents our laws or our values.”

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