Border Patrol may stop public transit sweeps
Immigrants rights advocates in Michigan say they are hopeful about reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has ended a policy of arbitrarily searching mass transit in the interior of the country.
Over the weekend the Associated Press reported that Border Patrol field offices around the country have received orders to stop routine bus, train and airport checks in the northern part of the country.
Halting the practice has baffled the agents, especially in some stations along the northern border – from Bellingham, Wash., to Houlton, Maine – where the so-called “transportation checks” have been the bulk of their everyday duties. The Border Patrol is authorized to check vehicles within 100 miles of the border.
The order has not been made public, but two agents described it to the AP on condition of (sic) because the government does not authorize them to speak to the media. The union that represents Border Patrol agents planned to issue a news release about the change Monday.
“Orders have been sent out from Border Patrol headquarters in Washington, D.C., to Border Patrol sectors nationwide that checks of transportation hubs and systems located away from the southwest border of the United States will only be conducted if there is intelligence indicating a threat,” the release says.
“We still need more detail, but this could be a strong step in the right direction,” said Ryan Bates, director of the Alliance for Immigrants Rights and Reform – Michigan said in a statement. “The Obama Administration long spoken about their commitment to smart border enforcement and strong civil rights protections.This change is exactly the sort of concrete action we need to implement those goals.”
Civil rights groups have criticized the Border Patrol practice of questioning people inside the country and argued that it violates the constitutional rights of more than 190 million people who live within 100 miles of an international border.