Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Border Patrol Agents Are Allowed to Check People's Immigration Status on Buses, Trains But It's Still Racial Profiling

Posted By on Tue, Mar 3, 2015 at 12:30 PM

Yes, Border Patrol agents are very much allowed to roam a bus or train station and check people's IDs and immigration status, even if the location isn't an official checkpoint or border. As long as the place is within 100 miles of the border, it's game, which I did not know until I posted something quick about it yesterday, and many of you sent a lot of information my way. Thank you.

The New York Times wrote an article about it in 2010, focusing on Amtrak stations in northern border towns, a few miles away from Canada, where (after 9/11) it became routine for passengers to see armed Border Patrol agents interrogating people, "fueled by Congressional antiterrorism spending and an expanding definition of border jurisdiction," the article says. 

It's also a tactic to combat human and drug smuggling, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. They say it's been effective.

All of that is understandable. However, why are only certain people checked and not all? And by certain, I mean people of color with "foreign-sounding" names and accents.

From the article:
The journey also highlights conflicting enforcement policies. Immigration authorities, vowing to concentrate resources on deporting immigrants with serious criminal convictions, have recently been halting the deportation of students who were brought to the country as children without papers — a group the Obama administration favors for legalization.

But some of the same kinds of students are being jailed by the patrol, like a Taiwan-born Ph.D. candidate who had excelled in New York City public schools since age 11. Two days after he gave a paper on Chaucer at a conference in Chicago last year, he was taken from his train seat and strip-searched at a detention center in Batavia, N.Y., facing deportation for an expired visa.

For some, the patrol’s practices evoke the same fears as a new immigration law in Arizona — that anyone, anytime, can be interrogated without cause.

On Sunday night, only four people were interrogated and all of them happened to be Hispanic/Latinos. Why weren't the other passengers checked?

These type of policies are a huge open door to racial profiling.

In the state, at least with SB 1070, we knew it was coming—we know what it does, how it does it, and so on. But this method I learned about recently has been going on for years and in a very quiet manner. 

Opponents say it's a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which "prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause." I agree. How are these searches not violating that? Sitting in a bus or train is "probable cause?" Having darker skin is "probably cause?"

I understand the justifications on paper, but when you target a certain group of people, that's just racist.

It's not just these bus visits, but the checkpoints, too.

I travel to Tubac, Bisbee, Nogales, and Sonoita often. The times I've driven through checkpoints and my Swedish, non-citizen, legal resident, blond-haired, green-eyed, tall, beautiful friend is in the car with me, Border Patrol agents don't even ask her if she is a citizen. The other day, she was driving, and had to answer that no, she isn't a U.S. citizen. The agent smiled and asked where she was from. "From Sweden," she said. "Oh, wow, beautiful. Well, have a great day!!!!" She could have been undocumented, but I guess in the eyes of many people, only those with darker skin should be scrutinized. 

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