NYCLU decries Border Patrol public transportation raids
Raids conducted by Customs and Border Protection agents on public transportation in upstate New York have come to play an outsize and unconstitutional role in Border Patrol activity, says the New York Civil Liberties Union.
In a report released Nov. 9, the NYCLU says arrest statistics it received from the Rochester Border Patrol Station from 2006 through 2009, obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request, show arrests made through identity checks on public transportation jumping from 42 percent of the station's total in 2006 to around 63 percent in 2007 through 2009.
The raids, during which Border Patrol agents board trains and buses "nowhere near the border to question passengers about their citizenship" typically occur many miles from the Canadian border or other port of entry, the NYCLU says.
"They do little to protect the border, but they threaten constitutional protections that apply to citizens and immigrants alike, invite racial profiling, tear apart families and burden taxpayers with the cost of detaining individuals who were arrested while innocently going about their business," the report says.
Federal regulations permit CBP to operate within 100 miles of the international border, but the NYCLU says Border Patrol agents don't have the right to conduct routine searches without probable cause or warrant within that 100 mile area, as they do in permanent checkpoints on the border itself. CBP officials have said their questioning of bus and train passengers is consensual--and, in fact, 95 percent of the 2,743 arrest records obtained by FOIA include a statement that the arresting officer initiated "consensual, nonintrusive" contract or engaged in a "consensual conversation" with the arrestee, the report says.
But the consent is not real and the language is employed to circumvent constitutional protections, the report adds.
"When an armed agent questions passengers on a train or bus, sometimes in the middle of the night with a flashlight glaring at the rider's face, few individuals would feel that they have the right to refuse to answer the agent's questions," it says.
- download the report, "Justice Derailed; What Raids on New York's Trains and Buses Reveal about Border Patrol's Interior Enforcement Practices" (.pdf)
Drones increase along borders
Cost of military deployments along the southwestern border depend on legal authority, says GAO
Border enforcement has unintended prices, says think tank