DPS checkpoints get mixed reviews by Valley residents

Viewer photo of a DPS checkpoint north of Alamo

Random checkpoints for driver licenses, insurance and registration are getting mixed reviews by Rio Grande Valley residents.

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) state troopers set up the checkpoints on rural state highways starting back in Sunday, September 15th.

Since that time state troopers have set up random checkpoints across the Valley.

State troopers have been checking passing motorists for driver licenses, insurance, vehicle safety and registration requirements.

But many Valley residents told Action 4 News that they oppose the checkpoints while others say they support them.

One person even created a Facebook page named "Alerta de Retenes 956" to share information about where the random checkpoints are set up.

The page, which was set up on Tuesday morning, already has more than 14,100 fans who post in both English and Spanish.

Another page named "Reportes de Retenes en 956" has more than 25,000 Facebook fans.

Attorney Speaks

The South Texas Civil Rights Project in Alamo has received numerous complaints and calls about the checkpoints from area residents.

No legal action has been taken against the checkpoints but McAllen-based immigration attorney Carlos M. Garcia who said they are already having a negative effect on parents and businesses.

Garcia said one local children's therapy clinic reported that some parents cancelled appointments due to fear of driving through the checkpoints.

"I think they're using them as an excuse to not only look for drug traffickers but to find other infractions," Garcia said of the checkpoints.

The McAllen attorney said that the checkpoints allow authorities to skirt "profiling" because they stop everyone who passes through.

Garcia said the checkpoints have largely been placed on rural roads near colonias and poor neighborhoods where residents have few resources.

"I don't see them setting up on North 10th Street," the McAllen attorney said.

Viewer Support

But many Valley residents said they support the checkpoints because they crackdown on drivers with no licenses and no insurance.

"The only people complaining about this are the ones who refuse to pay for insurance or who don't have a drivers license for a reason," wrote Action 4 News viewer Katrina Gonzalez on Facebook.

Viewer John Cruz wrote on Facebook that he went through a checkpoint and it was just a quick check for a driver's license and insurance.

"Those whining about this more than likely have no insurance nor drivers license, expired tags and basically driving illegal at law-biding insurance carriers cost," Cruz wrote.

Viewer Enrique Amar supports the checkpoint and wrote on Facebook that he believe they are great idea.

"I have insurance on six vehicles," Amar wrote. "If I'm involved in an accident the other party is protected. I would expect nothing less from anyone else. They need to be consistent and keep this program going."

Viewer Opposition

But many Valley residents expressed concern about the legality of the checkpoints and whether or not state troopers whether or not they were being used to unfairly target illegal immigrants.

Viewer Isaac Ramirez quoted former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson on Facebook about the checkpoints.

"Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one," wrote Ramirez.

Viewer Virginia Flores Lopez said the checkpoints unfairly target poor people.

"They are cracking down on poor people," she wrote on Facebook. "No insurance. Your car gets impounded. When you are poor, insurance is something you wish to have!"

Viewer Jeremiah D. Lopez said he believes the checkpoints are setting a dangerous precedent.

"This is just like Nazi Germany before the war," Lopez wrote on Facebook. "And all of you people are gladly giving up your rights."