Traveling While Latino -- Immigration Agents on NY Trains

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NEW YORK -- Instead of routing out security threats, transportation raids are netting immigrants with long roots in our state.

In the last few years, U.S. border agents from the Canadian line have been reaching deep into New York state in search of unauthorized migrants on trains and buses.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says agents are permitted to monitor people who recently crossed the border for as far as 100 miles.

But data obtained via the Freedom of Information Act by the NYU School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic show that CBP is overextending its reach and scope: 76 percent of the 2,743 immigrants questioned and arrested in trains or buses in upstate New York between 2006 and 2009 had been in the country for more than a year, and 12 percent for more than 10 years. The large majority of people questioned and detained were Hispanic.

The report, coauthored by the NYCLU and Families for Freedom, warns that border authorities are increasing their presence in communities upstate and that "Latino citizens face a consistent pattern of harassment by CBP."

The report includes troubling testimonies of Hispanic legal residents who were singled out, asked to show papers, and detained for hours –even though Americans have the constitutional right to move freely within the U.S. territory and have never been required to carry papers.

CBP's approach is consistent with this administration’s massive deportation policy. Far from protecting the border, our border safety agency is contributing to an effort to increase arrests and deportations of immigrants who pose no threat in light of unprecedented funding for border security.

The report points to flaws in arrest procedures that lead to unnecessary and costly detentions and the violation of civil rights.

Recently, CBP announced that it will reduce transportation raids. This is not enough because what appears to be the case is CBP is out of bounds and profiling Latinos. The same approach at a reduced scale is unacceptable. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman should heed the report’s recommendations and monitor CBP operations to ensure that the rights of New York residents are protected.