- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - An American Civil Liberties Union report alleges that border patrol agents have engaged in racial profiling and intimidation tactics along southern New Mexico’s border with Mexico.

The ACLU of New Mexico’s Regional Center for Border Rights on Thursday released the report entitled, “Guilty Until Proven Innocent.”

The report cites unjustified detentions and searches, intimidation, racial profiling, among other accusations of abusive behavior by border patrol agents, reported The Albuquerque Journal (https://bit.ly/1LLzocw).

The Border Patrol, a division of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said that racial profiling goes against its policy and checkpoints are used as an enforcement tool to intercept smugglers intent on illegally moving people, drugs or other contraband into the U.S.

According to the report, U.S. citizens reported 50 complaints of abuse by border agents and officers to the ACLU last year. Another half-dozen complaints came from lawful permanent residents or unauthorized immigrants. Most of the alleged abuse occurred at interior border checkpoints or during roving patrols in the U.S., the report stated.

Border Patrol spokesman Ramiro Cordero said the allegations were never brought to the attention of Border Patrol. He said border agents stop millions of people a year at its New Mexico checkpoints, and at times find drugs or immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

But, the ACLU argues that the Border Patrol operates with little meaningful oversight or accountability.

The report provides a look at the 100-mile zone in southern New Mexico where a majority of families consider themselves Hispanic or Latino and about half speak a language other than English.

New Mexicans who live in the area face checkpoints where border agents stop all traffic, ask for U.S. citizenship and immigration status and occasionally search vehicles looking for illegal drugs or unauthorized immigrants.

“People feel they are treated differently based on the way they look in southern New Mexico,” said Brian Erickson, policy advocate at the ACLU of New Mexico’s Regional Center for Border Rights.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Roger Maier said the organization strives to act professionally in all interactions with community.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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