Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nearly 300 wrongful arrests by Border Patrol and almost $1 million in cash and other incentives

Today, the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic and Families for Freedom released a report on the impact of Border Patrol policies on persons with lawful status. The report, which draws from documents and testimony obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, provides the first release of information about Border Patrol’s cash bonus system as well as a statistical portrait, based on internal Border Patrol documents, of persons with lawful status who have been arrested by Border Patrol and in many cases held for hours in the middle on the night.

The report makes three main findings: 1. The Border Patrol distributes cash award bonuses, time off awards and gift certificates in a system that does not require any written justification and is therefore not subject to oversight.

2. Despite telling a federal court that it did not even maintain annual arrest statistics at a station by station level, Border Patrol operates on an arrest driven culture in which arrest rates are monitored and reported on a daily basis by each station in the Buffalo Sector.

3. In one program (train and bus arrests) in one station (the Rochester Station of the Buffalo Sector) Border Patrol documented the arrest of almost 300 persons with a form of legal status between 2006 and 2010. Those arrested included US citizens, lawful permanent residents, holders of work and student visas, asylees, refugees, recipients of TPS and tourists. The overwhelming majority of those arrested were from countries that are predominantly made up of persons of color. There were persons arrested from over eighty countries. The report provides detailed accounts drawn from Border Patrol documents of the persons arrested and held for hours before Border Patrol concluded that they had proper status.

In addition, the report shows that Border Patrol presumes that it can arrest any noncitizen who is not carrying a passport or a permanent residency card and fails even to acknowledge an Employment Authorization Document as sufficient proof of status. Thus, for example, the report document instances in which a recently arrived tourist traveling domestically was arrested for failure to carry passport. The report traces the history of the registration laws and regulations to show the fallacy with Border Patrol’s assumption that it can arrest on nothing more than a noncitizen’s failure to carry a passport. Co-authors of the the report are Anna Schoenfelder (NYU ’13), Natasha Rivera Silber (NYU ’13), and Professor Nancy Morawetz (NYU).


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