Federal Lawsuit Exposes Racial Profiling by Border Patrol in Ohio

A group of five Latinos filed a lawsuit in federal appeals court earlier this month alleging that they were profiled by the Sandusky Bay U.S. Border Patrol in Ohiom the Sandusky Register reported.

The lawsuit also alleges widespread racial profiling of Latinos by the border patrol agency throughout the region of Ohio under the agency's jurisdiction.

Although the Sandusky Bay region of Ohio along Lake Erie is only 3 percent Latino, Latinos comprised 85 percent of those arrested by border patrol in 2009. In 2010 and 2011, Latinos comprised 67 and 62 percent of those arrested.

The Sandusky Bay Border Patrol agency is situated along the Canadian border, yet, only 0.2 percent of those arrested by border agents were Canandian.The suit alleges that Latinos were significantly more likely to stopped by law enforcement and interrogated about their immigration status than people of other racial and ethnic groups. Alleged minor traffic violations led to much longer detentions of  Latinos than other groups.

Emails obtained through the lawsuit indicate that the man in charge of the Sandusky Bay Border Patrol agency, Cory Bammer, used racial slurs to refer to Latino workers when discussing farms that he believed needed to be monitored. The five plaintiffs in the case were going about their business when they were stopped by border agents, walking down the street, pumping gas or travelling by bus, the Sandusky Register reported.

The plaintiffs were assisted in filing the litigation by the Ohio Immigrant Worker Project and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee of the AFL-CIO.

--Keith Rushing