MILITARY

ACLU accuses Border Patrol of constitutional violations at Arizona checkpoints, seeks probe

FILE - This July 29, 2010 file photo shows a Border Patrol agent checking the identification card of a bus driver at a checkpoint in Amado, Ariz. The American Civil Liberties Union reported Wednesday Jan. 15, 2014 that border patrol agents at checkpoints across southern Arizona are routinely violating the constitutional rights of U.S. residents, including unjustified detentions and illegal searches as a pretext to investigating other criminal activity in violation of the agency's mandate that stops be limited to inquiring about citizenship and visually inspecting vehicles.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, file)

FILE - This July 29, 2010 file photo shows a Border Patrol agent checking the identification card of a bus driver at a checkpoint in Amado, Ariz. The American Civil Liberties Union reported Wednesday Jan. 15, 2014 that border patrol agents at checkpoints across southern Arizona are routinely violating the constitutional rights of U.S. residents, including unjustified detentions and illegal searches as a pretext to investigating other criminal activity in violation of the agency's mandate that stops be limited to inquiring about citizenship and visually inspecting vehicles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, file)  (The Associated Press)

The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking a federal investigation into allegations of constitutional abuses by Border Patrol agents at checkpoints in Arizona.

In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General on Wednesday, the ACLU cites 12 cases in which the group says U.S. citizens' rights were violated. The ACLU says agents are conducting illegal searches and prolonged detentions, outside the agency's mandate of immigration enforcement.

The National Border Patrol Council, the union for agents, balked at the allegations, noting agents aren't limited to immigration enforcement, and can investigate crimes including trafficking of guns and drugs.

The group says agents may stop drivers based on suspicions that they're committing a crime, and that checkpoints serve as a vital tool to secure the nation's borders.