Lawfully present immigrants and U.S. citizens have been harassed by Border Patrol agents in New York State, with a disproportionate impact on people of color, according to a report by RWG member Families for Freedom. According to data collected through FOIA litigation in Rochester, New York, Border Patrol’s “show me your papers” policy and aggressive immigration enforcement tactics in the interior of the U.S. led to the questioning, harassment, and arrest of people of color, often being forced off buses and trains in the middle of the night.
The report uses real cases documented in Border Patrol paperwork to illustrate the civil rights and civil liberties consequences of Border Patrol’s harsh interior enforcement policies.
Some of the troubling findings in the report include:
· Closely monitored arrest numbers are the only numerical data collected at the station level, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gift-card awards are given out to border patrol agents on a discretionary basis based on “quality of work.”
· “Papers please” enforcement disproportionately impacts people of color. Of those wrongfully arrested, the majority were of African, Caribbean, South Asian and East Asian backgrounds.
· Flawed immigration databases do not contain accurate information on status adjustments, extensions, or pending court or asylum cases, leading to hours of wrongful detention of lawfully-present immigrants.
· Border Patrol records show that Border Patrol agents are not familiar with immigration law or the many types of lawful status documents and special USCIS programs, and they overestimate their legal authority to demand “papers” of any individual.