Study Proves Customs and Border Police Claims of Racial Profiling
An ACLU study substantiates the racism claims in a lawsuit filed by three Black border patrol officers last April.
The Michigan ACLU study accuses the Michigan branch of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which operates throughout the state, of using racial profiling and over-policing “to instill fear in Michigan’s immigrant communities,” according to the Washington Post.
The study is based on a “close evaluation” of thousands of pages of documents, including 13,239 Detroit-sector daily apprehension logs from 2012 to 2018. It found that the Border Patrol in Michigan often stops people just for driving while Brown or Black. “Whatever people of color do when driving near a Border Patrol vehicle is used as a pretext to pull them over,” it reads.
The April lawsuit, filed by three Black CBP officers in Port Huron, MI, charged the agency with targeting African American drivers. It also claimed that the agency discriminated and retaliated against Black officers who protested that treatment.
The report included a 2015 CBP chart that has 13 categories of skin color. The report says that “more than 96% of those apprehended” were nonwhite, identified as “Black,” “Dark Brown,” “Dark,” “Light Brown,” “Medium Brown,” “Medium,” or “Yellow.” For roving patrols and transit checks, 98 percent of those stopped had “Medium” or “Medium Brown” complexion.
The report also found that, in more than three-quarters of roving patrol arrests, “no matter how drivers of color react — whether they look at and acknowledge an agent, or do not look at or acknowledge an agent, or whether they speed up or slow down — that action is recorded as ‘suspicious’ and is used to justify an investigatory vehicle stop.”
Researchers also found that, between 2012 and 2018, 85 percent of noncitizens apprehended by the Border Patrol in Michigan were from Latin America. This is despite the fact that more than 70 percent of those arrested attempting to enter the U.S. without authorization from Canada were either Canadian citizens or originally from Europe.
A Border Patrol statement in response to the report said it is agency policy “to prohibit the consideration of race or ethnicity in law enforcement, investigation, and screening activities, in all but the most exceptional circumstances. As such, CBP is fully committed to the fair, impartial and respectful treatment of all members of the trade and traveling public.”
ACLU attorney Monica Andrade, a co-author of the report, told the Washington Post that the ACLU and CBP have discussed ACLU recommendations to combat racial profiling, which include developing constitutional guidance for agents on reasonable suspicion for traffic stops.
“No one should have to live in fear of being targeted by law enforcement agencies because of the color of their skin or the language they speak, but, as the report reveals, that is exactly what’s happening in Michigan because of Border Patrol’s rampant use of racial profiling,” Andrade said.