DETROIT – Michigan Border Patrol agents have been accused of “routine racial profiling” of Latinos.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, people are being stopped just for speaking Spanish.
Michigan’s border with Canada extends for more than 700 miles. While that’s where we normally think of Border Patrol, the ACLU said they actually patrol the entire state and have been engaging in serious misconduct while doing it.
In its new report, the Michigan ACLU accuses the Michigan branch of Customs and Border Protection of “blatant racial profiling” and making people of Latino or Hispanic descent a “primary suspect.”
According to the findings from 13,000 apprehension logs, the report claims CBP used “complexion codes” to describe those apprehended and more than 96% of individuals apprehended were reported as being “black,” “dark brown,” “dark,” “light brown,” “medium brown,” “medium” or “yellow,” -- a racially insensitive term for Asian American skin tones.
The organization said the root cause is an abuse of the 100-Mile Zone, which gives CBP jurisdiction within a 100 miles of a U.S. border. In Michigan, the 100-Mile Zone covers the entire state.
“Whatever people of color do when driving near a Border Patrol vehicle is used as a pretext to pull them over,” reads the report. “A person’s ‘Hispanic’ appearance frequently leads to investigation and arrest.”
The report claims that nearly 20% of all stops were because a person was speaking Spanish or another foreign language.
In response, CBP released the following statement, that reads in part:
The report gained the attention of Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who sent a letter -- along with Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, who chairs the subcommittee on civil rights -- to Department of Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. An excerpt from the letter can be read below.
Tlaib and Raskin called for a briefing -- which can be done in writing -- in-person, behind closed doors or in an open meeting. The two representatives said they want that done by Sept. 1.
The full report from the ACLU of Michigan and the full letter to Mayorkas can be read below.