Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Border Focus on Olympic Peninsula

The New York Times ran an article yesterday about an unlikely new focus for immigration...Forks, Washington. The town of a little more than 3,000 people in the site of a $10,000,000 new Border Patrol facility. The article reports that there are many immigrants in the small Northwest town that get work in the winter picking salal, a wild shrub used for flower arrangements. But residents have noticed that routine traffic stops will suddenly turn into Border Patrol encounters. Last month, the ACLU and the Northwest Immigration Rights Project joined together in filing a lawsuit in Seattle against the Border Patrol claiming that the Border Patrol is engaged in unconstitutional racial profiling in the Western District of Washington. It has become a practice of the Border Patrol to join local law enforcement, often under the auspices of acting as an interpreter, in routine traffic stops. The plaintiffs of the lawsuit include a Forks resident of Latino descent who is a corrections officer for the State of Washington. The corrections officer, a US Citizen, was stopped for having windows with too dark of tint; however, questioning by Border Patrol Agents quickly turned to the correction officer's citizen status. The lawsuit is worth following and mentioning when dealing with traffic stops that appear to have a pretext.
The lawsuit seeks a declaration that the Border Patrol’s suspicionless stops violate the Fourth Amendment and exceed the agency’s legal powers. The suit seeks to prohibit Border Patrol agents from stopping vehicles without reasonable suspicion that an occupant has entered the U.S. without approval. It also seeks to prohibit stops altogether until each agent on the Olympic Peninsula has received training regarding what constitutes reasonable suspicion for a stop. The suit would have the court require that Border Patrol agents prepare documentation recording the basis of their suspicion that justifies each stop. Furthermore, the documentation should be easily accessible to a court-appointed special master to monitor compliance.

No comments: