Thursday, September 16, 2021

Michigan border patrol agents accused of racially profiling Latinos

Two House Democrats demand answers from the Biden administration after a recent report accused Border patrol agents in Michigan of targeting Latino residents from 2012 to 2019.

The two representatives, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan have asked Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to address the “serious allegations of discrimination by Michigan Customs and Border Patrol agents” spanning across multiple administrations.

While only 5.3% of the state’s overall population identifies as Latino, they account for more than 96% of CBP arrests across the entire state, even during stops unrelated to border violations. Yet, data from more than 13,000 daily apprehension logs obtained by the report’s authors show that more than 70% of people arrested in the process of entering the U.S. from Canada were either Canadian or European.

According to the report, “19.2% of patrol and transit arrests, the fact that a person speaks Spanish, or any other language is used as the basis for establishing reasonable suspicion”, which is what border patrol agents need to justify their intervention.

Geoffrey Alan Boyce, an academic director at Earlham College’s border studies program and one of the report’s main authors stated, “Speaking Spanish in public is not, and should never be, a suspicious thing to do or an arrestable offense. But yet, that’s what you see actually initiating these enforcement accounts. I think it’s just really a dangerous set of practices for the border patrol to be responding to.”

Border patrol agents detained 64% of people for routine traffic stops and reasons other than border violations. In an overwhelming majority of these cases, agents cite a person’s alleged reaction to seeing a marked border patrol agent or vehicle as a basis for suspicion, a practice Boyce described as “shockingly arbitrary and contradictory.” An evaluation shows that no matter how drivers reacted, whether they looked and acknowledge an agent or whether they didn’t or sped up or slowed down, the action was recorded as “suspicious” and was used to justify an investigatory vehicle stop.

CBP’s Grogan stated that, “border patrol agents in Michigan conduct enforcement actions away from the immediate border in direct support of border enforcement efforts and as a means of preventing trafficking, smuggling and other criminal organizations from exploiting our public and private transportation infrastructure to travel to the interior of the United States.”

“If you were not born in the United States, that by definition, means you crossed a border at some point in the past. But that doesn’t mean you crossed in Michigan, that doesn’t mean you crossed unlawfully. Lots of people naturalize; their immigration status changes as they’re just going about their lives,” Boyce said.

NBC