Agents accused of racial profiling in Wayne County

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 1:07 PM CDT

Submitted photo by JOHN GHERTNER - Border Patrol agents seen at Sodus’ Mi Ranchito parking lot Aug. 29, according to photographer John Ghertner, have been accused of harassing migrant workers who stop at the store.

SODUS — The Border Patrol is again being accused of racial profiling in Wayne County, this time at the dawn of the annual apple harvest that brings thousands of migrants to the area.

According to Migrant Support Services organizer John Ghertner — who was there taking photos — and Mi Ranchito owner Primitivo Vasquez, Border Patrol agents blocked off the two entrances to Vasquez’s store Aug. 29, demanding identification from customers before allowing them in.

Mi Ranchito is a specialty grocery store that sells Mexican foods, calling cards and other items targeted at migrant workers. Vasquez was born in Mexico but lives in Oswego and has operated his business for about 15 years.

Ghertner and Vasquez alleged that two Border Patrol vehicles pulled into the parking lot, blocking one of the store’s two entrances. Vasquez’s son, Jairo, asked the Border Patrol agents to leave.

Ghertner said one agent moved his car to the other entrance, and the other agent parked on the road, slightly to the west of the parking lot.

A few minutes later, Jairo Vasquez again asked the other agent to leave, and the agent then parked to the east of the parking lot, Ghertner and Vasquez said.

“Basically, it prevented anyone from coming into his business that were Mexican,