border patrol car1.jpg
It's been another bad week for the Border Patrol. At the same time that the agency got hit over the head in court, it faced

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Border Patrol's Bad Week: Federal Judge and 11 Congress Members Deliver Blows

border patrol car1.jpg
It's been another bad week for the Border Patrol. At the same time that the agency got hit over the head in court, it faced a bunch of politicians calling for an official investigation. Both developments, as readers of SW's past coverage likely know, relate to charges of racial profiling.

The legal blow came in the form of a ruling by U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle in Seattle. The Border Patrol had asked the judge to dismiss a class action lawsuit against the agency filed by three Olympic Peninsula residents--all U.S. citizens and two of them correctional officers--who said they had been stopped and questioned by Border Patrol agents for no discernible reason other than their dark skin.

By law, agents are required to have "reasonable suspicion" of illegal activity before such an interrogation.

Rather than grapple with the facts of the case, the agency contended in its motion for summary judgment that the three plaintiffs lacked the "standing" to sue because they couldn't show a likelihood of immediate harm--in other words that they would be stopped again.

The Border Patrol relied on a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals case that denied two Arizonans standing in a similar lawsuit against the agency. The two individuals suing in that case drove frequently on roads along the southern border, yet had only been stopped once in 10 years, the judges in that case noted.

Yet, Settle opined, the Washington state case is different because at least one of the plaintiffs has already been stopped three times in as many years. Which raises the strange possibility that the Border Patrol is even more aggressive--or bored-- here than it is along the southern border.

It's reports like these that have 11 Congress members calling for an investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The Northern Border Coalition, an immigrant advocacy group that includes Seattle's OneAmerica, announced this week that 10 of the 11 lawmakers - including Washington's Jim McDermott and Adam Smith - had signed onto a letter written to the office's comptroller general. (The 11th, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, sent his own letter.)

"Reports suggest that Border Patrol agents may be targeting individuals on the basis of race or religion for extra scrutiny during border crossings and wrongfully stopping, interrogating and arresting legal U.S. residents who are many miles from the border," the letter reads.

Find the full letter on the following page.

An 11 the

GAO Audit Letter MOC

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