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Thread: Broad Jurisdiction Of U.S. Border Patrol Raises Concerns About Racial Profiling

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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Broad Jurisdiction Of U.S. Border Patrol Raises Concerns About Racial Profiling

    October 11, 2017
    Kathleen Masterson

    Some civil rights advocates have raised concerns that U.S. Border Patrol may be infringing on people's civil rights as it carries out stops in its vast jurisdiction.

    Within 100 miles of the border and the coastline, Border Patrol agents have broad authority to stop cars and people for immigration questions. For example, over the past few months the agency has set up checkpoints in New Hampshire, stopping hundreds of cars and arresting more than two dozen unauthorized immigrants.

    On a recent drizzly morning, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brad Brant took me and another journalist along the United States-Canada border to see areas where they've apprehended human smugglers and drug traffickers.

    The first stop is a place in Highgate, Vermont, that agents have nicknamed the "tree farm" because there's a maple sugaring operation there.

    "What we'll have is people will come here and either pick up people that have walked into the U.S., or they'll drop off people that will to walk into Canada through here, because it's about a 10- or 15-minute walk to the border," Brant says.

    And the location is just a stone's throw to Interstate 89.

    "If they get picked up on the interstate, they're about four-and-a-half hours from Boston," Brant says. "We don’t have a lot of time to intercept an event like that."

    This area is covered by a border patrol office in Swanton, Vermont. They patrol a stretch of the northern border from upstate New York through Vermont and all the way to New Hampshire’s border with Maine. That’s 295 miles of dense woods, farmland, roads and lakes.

    In their work along the 100-mile zone along the border, U.S. Border Patrol agents serve multiple roles: They work as immigration agents, they work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), they set up checkpoints. And frequently they also serve as backup for local police.

    The Swanton sector apprehended around 300 people last year, though only about 40 percent of those cases were ever brought to court.

    Back in the patrol car, we head over to another backcountry road where sometimes people attempt to sneak over the border.

    "What we're looking for, in general, up here is just something that doesn't belong," Brant says. "The guys come out here and they work, and they get to know the area and the people that live in it and what they do and when they do it, and they basically are patrolling for something that doesn't fit the pattern that they know of, and that's worth a second look."

    But just what — and who — is worth a second look raises some red flags for civil rights advocates, particularly the farther one gets from the physical border.

    Since the agency can stop and question any car or person within 100 air miles of the border, including 100 miles from the coastline, nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population falls under Border Patrol jurisdiction — and that includes basically all of New England.

    Unlike local law enforcement, U.S. Border Patrol agents can pull over a vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion its occupants are of "illegal alienage" — that basically means someone who is in the country illegally.

    I ask Brant how agents could determine “illegal alienage” without racial profiling?

    "We're not allowed to do racial profiling, so we use, we develop articulable facts," Brant says. "You know, I have 18 years doing this, so I can kind of tell, regardless of somebody's race, whether or not they're — I can look at you, the way you're dressed, the way you act, the way you walk; you're probably from Vermont. If you were dressed a lot differently, that didn't fit in, that would be an articulable fact."

    But James Lyall, executive director of the ACLU of Vermont, says these descriptions alone — without other evidence — wouldn't hold up in court.

    "None of those things by themselves would constitute reasonable suspicion of alienage," says Lyall.

    The ACLU has documented instances of racial profiling occurring, specifically in Arizona and along the southern border where it's done extensive research.

    But when it comes down to it, even the courts aren't clear on whether race can be used as a factor for stopping a person.

    "It's not a settled issue. It's one that's hotly contested," says Lyall. "There's actually conflicting circuit law on whether agents can even consider race in making stops, or whether that's racial profiling."

    Earlier this spring, two dairy farm workers were returning home to their farm after an activist event when their car was pulled over. The car had Vermont plates, and was not pulled over for any traffic violations. It was pulled over because an agent suspected the occupants were not legal U.S. residents.

    The two workers were Mexican nationals who were residing in the U.S. undocumented, so they were arrested and handed over to ICE. However U.S. Border Patrol wouldn’t reveal what evidence led them to believe the car contained foreign nationals.

    "I can't really tell you the specifics on how the reasonable suspicion of illegal alienage was developed, but they were coming on a road that approaches the international border ... in the area of East Franklin," Brant said, speaking about the arrests back in June.

    Even the way a recent U.S. Customs and Border Protection policy description explains when race and ethnicity can be used leaves much open to individual interpretation. The Aug. 10 description walks a fuzzy line, saying racial profiling is not allowed, but an agent could use race and nationality as an indicator in certain situations.

    "CBP has on its website what it will be looking at, and it does say that again they want to not use racial profiling, but it then goes on to say that some of these things might be indicators," says Leslie Holman, an immigration attorney in Vermont, and a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

    Holman says the priorities of the presidential administration weigh heavily on just how these nuances are interpreted.

    "And CBP doesn't operate on its own, but they are given direction from the administration," Holman says.

    U.S Border Patrol won’t say whether they have been given new directives by the Trump administration. Steven Cribby of the Swanton sector wrote via email that "U.S. Border Patrol priorities and guidance are driven by the administration and we carry those out locally as directed."

    But there have been sweeping policy changes for ICE, memos directing that agency to prioritize the deportation of any undocumented person in the U.S.

    This map depicts the U.S. Border Patrol's sector boundaries and station locations. New England states fall within the Swanton Sector or the Houlton Sector. (Courtesy U.S. Border Patrol)

    And the ACLU's Lyall says the opaqueness with which the U.S. Border Patrol operates is also concerning.

    "The fact that the agency doesn’t collect data on its own operations, which is a standard law enforcement practice — Vermont police collect extensive data on stops and searches — why is it that the largest law enforcement agency in the country, CBP, can't do the same?" Lyall says.

    But even assuming U.S. Border Patrol agents aren't racially profiling most of the time, just the perception that they are can be damaging to communities that fall within their jurisdiction.

    Holman says in light of national policy and rhetoric, there is grave fear among immigrant communities — including people who are living legally in the U.S.

    "And what is the ultimate effect of that? I mean, it can be horrible," Holman says. "People won't go to the police if they’re victims of a crime. They may not seek medical care, they may not do things that they should doing for their own safety or that benefit the community, which is an ultimate loss to us."

    Communities inland from the border are already feeling the presence of U.S. Border Patrol. In recent months, checkpoints set up in New Hampshire stopped hundreds of residents.

    At a recent checkpoint in Lincoln, New Hampshire, more than two dozen immigrants were arrested, including students from a Massachusetts charter school.

    The U.S. Border Patrol has said it plans on using more checkpoints in northern New England in the future.
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  2. #2
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006
    "illegal alienage"
    Now there's one I haven't heard before.
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  3. #3
    Moderator Beezer's Avatar
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    Apr 2016
    Well, it's not exactly blond haired, blue eyed people pouring over our border!


  4. #4
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    Some civil rights advocates have raised concerns that U.S. Border Patrol may be infringing on people's civil rights as it carries out stops in its vast jurisdiction.
    Well, concern yourself no more, because here's the deal. Border Patrol along with ICE and any state and local law enforcement officers responsible for or willing to enforce US immigration law have obligation to protect the civil rights of US citizens and those in our country legally.

    All legal immigrants from temporary visa holders to multi-year visa holders to green cards are required by US immigration law to carry their immigration documents with them at all times for the express purpose of separating them from citizens and illegal aliens, so there is no possible civil rights violation with regards to them. Citizens are not required to carry citizenship documents but most have driver's licenses and numerous other ways to verify their status if need be so no chance for their civil rights to be violated since the whole purpose of the process is to protect their civil rights from being violated by illegal aliens. So, the only possible "victims" of enforcing US immigration law are the perpetrators themselves: illegal aliens. Thus, there is no possible way for anyone in the United States to be a victim of racial profiling by anyone enforcing US immigration law to seek out and remove illegal aliens from our country.

    This "racial profiling" stunt has been a fabricated bogus argument against enforcing our laws from the git-go, so it's time for the common sense men and women of the United States to call out this absurdity for the charade it is and scream out at the top of our lungs:


    That's not to say there won't be mistakes along the way due to convoluted immigration paperwork or complex involved processes of naturalization that have occurred throughout the years. We don't want mistakes, because we don't like mistakes, but mistakes in law enforcement occur in every mode of law enforcement just as they do in every other walk of life, so a few mistakes along the way of such a massive undertaking as we have at this point, just goes with the territory of human functions.
    Last edited by Judy; 10-11-2017 at 05:42 PM.
    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
    Save America, Deport Congress! - Judy

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