TSA, ICE, and Local Police Collaborate on Surprise "Sweeps"


This story points out an ACLU employee's surprise when he witnessed Latinos being pulled aside and questioned by federal agents at a bus station in Iowa. As it turns out, federal agents with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) partner with local police to conduct 8,000 of these "routine sweeps" in airports, bus stations, train stations, and even subway systems each year. 

While TSA's VIPR website claims that these sweeps "introduce an element of unpredictability to disrupt potential terrorist planning activities," it seems that by partnering with ICE they also have immigration enforcement goals. The report from an Iowa bus station is especially troubling because racial profiling is likely to happen in these sweeps. And like many of these collaborations between federal and local law enforcement, like Secure Communities and other information sharing programs, safeguards protecting civilians against racial profiling are sorely lacking. 

If programs like the eerily-named VIPR do not protect civilians from racial profiling and if agents target Latinos and other people of color like agents did in Iowa, they will, in fact, make our communities less safe.