A recent story in Jalopnik revealed that the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is stopping drivers along our northern borders for allegedly looking at them funny.
“Most people are stopped while driving and in 77 percent of cases, an agent cites a person’s alleged reaction to seeing a marked Border Patrol agent or vehicle as a basis for suspicion.”
As the Detroit News pointed out, “border patrol agents are conducting warrantless vehicle searches throughout Michigan and have normalized racial profiling while working with local and state law enforcement.”
What I find appalling is the CBP’s response to stopping drivers because someone looked at law enforcement funny.
“It is the policy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prohibit the consideration of race or ethnicity in law enforcement, investigation, and screening activities, in all but the most exceptional circumstances. As such, CBP is fully committed to the fair, impartial and respectful treatment of all members of the trade and traveling public,” CBP spokesman Kris Grogan said.
What this statement reveals is that the Feds think it is “fair and impartial” to stop and question drivers for looking at government agents.
The ACLU’s report “The Border’s Long Shadow” is a disturbing look into how the Feds and police have justified stopping 13,000 motorists based mostly on suspicion over nine years.
“The report is the first-ever investigation of Border Patrol’s Michigan operations, and is based on thousands of CBP documents, spanning nine years, including records of over 13,000 stops detailing which police agency initiated the stop, location of the stop, and the skin tone of the person apprehended.”
As the ACLU noted, the CBP, which is supposed to patrol the U.S. border between land ports of entry, is in actuality engaged in racial profiling and the over-policing of communities of color.
It appears that the CBP and local police could care less about recent BLM protests and think nothing of harassing and targeting people of color because they are within 100 miles of our borders.
“People of Latin American origin throughout the state are subjected to the constant fear that Border Patrol will single them out for harassment and arrest based on their appearance. Border Patrol agents are, in this way, terrorizing Michigan communities.””
The CBP Engages in Blatant Racial Profiling
According to the ACLU, “the agency [CPB] uses complexion codes to describe people they arrested. Tellingly, more than 96 percent of those apprehended are recorded as being Black, Dark Brown, Dark, Light Brown, Medium Brown, Medium, or Yellow.
The report shows that just 1.3 percent of those arrests involved people attempting to enter the country illegally.
None of this matters to law enforcement, who use the 100-mile border as a means to justify searching vehicles without a warrant.
“Relying on outdated regulations, Border Patrol agents claim the authority to conduct warrantless vehicle searches within 100 miles of any international border or waterway. CBP claims that the entire state of Michigan falls within this 100-mile zone. CBP defines each of the Great Lakes as an international waterway, thus asserting the right to measure its 100-mile jurisdiction beginning at each lakeshore.”
Police really don’t care if motorists look at them funny or refuse to turn their heads because to them everyone is suspect.
“A close evaluation of narratives in the records shows that no matter how drivers of color react — whether they look at and acknowledge an agent, or do not look at or acknowledge an agent, or whether they speed up or slow down — that action is recorded as “suspicious” and is used to justify an investigatory vehicle stop.”
In DHS’s everyone is a suspect America, citizens are encouraged to report their neighbors for doing something suspicious. And according to the ACLU report, that is exactly what is happening.
“An additional small but alarming 4.2 percent of records describe either a citizen complaint or a roving patrol stop that explicitly cites a person’s or a group of people’s appearance as Hispanic to be a basis for suspicion.”
CBP agents can stop and interrogate motorists for gripping their steering wheel tightly or refusing to look at them as described on Page 17 of the ACLU report,
“When the agents pulled alongside the van, the driver, a U.S. citizen, appeared to be gripping the wheel tightly. Neither the driver nor the front-seat passenger looked at the agents.
“The message this data sends is disturbingly clear: If you are a person of color, any reaction to the sight of a Border Patrol vehicle can be deemed suspicious and used to justify a traffic stop.”
Because the CBP refuses to follow basic law enforcement record-keeping practices around documenting stops, Americans will never know how many innocent people have been stopped and searched for simply driving within 100 miles of the Great Lakes.
The ACLU acknowledged that they were only able to obtain a portion of the I-213 records. But what they uncovered is deeply troubling.
“The fact that state and local law enforcement called Border Patrol agents to investigate more than 1,100 U.S. citizens suggests that these referrals were made based on assumptions about a person’s citizenship that were based on that person’s race, ethnicity or language abilities, rather than on any evidence that the person was in violation of immigration law.”
What is happening in Michigan is a microcosm of what is happening across the country.
America has become a country where neighbors and concerned citizens are encouraged to report suspicious people and law enforcement thinks nothing of detaining questioning, searching and arresting anyone they deem suspicious.
This article was originally published at MassPrivateI.
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