Wednesday, May 2, 2012
From the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project:
Breaking News: NWIRP Challenges Local Law Enforcement Use of U.S. Border Patrol Agents as "Interpreters"
Yesterday, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. The complaint challenges the illegal practice of local law enforcement agencies calling in U.S. Border Patrol agents as "interpreters" for routine matters. The complaint is filed on behalf of six brave individuals.
The Problem: Law enforcement agencies who attempt to use Border Patrol for alleged "'interpretation assistance" during routine matters are targeting our community members for deportation. In doing so, they are also violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which ensures that all persons have access to government services, regardless of limited English skills. Getting put into deportation proceedings by your interpreter is not equal access.
Local Border Patrol officials have made various public statements denying that they actively seek to deport community members while acting as interpreters. Just weeks ago, a Border Patrol spokesperson told a public radio reporter: "We're strictly there for translation in that type of request."
A disturbing video released yesterday actively shows that agents do in fact question and detain individuals who were witnesses and bystanders. The video also captures Border Patrol agents using racial slurs (a longer excerpt includes more inflammatory language).
Just last week in another effort, NWIRP joined ACLU of Washington in filing a lawsuit challenging unconstitutional stops and interrogations by Border Patrol Agents on the Olympic Peninsula. NWIRP and its non-profit partners have raised these concerns with federal officials, but still the racial profiling of the Border Patrol continues.
Through this official complaint we ask the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to take steps to stop this illegal practice.