Sunday, September 25, 2011

Immigration Rights | Border Patrol Interpretation Services for Local Law Enforcement

Six pro-immigrant groups with ties to northern Washington counties signed a letter to Washington Senators and Representatives that documented their concerns about a controversial interplay with local law enforcement and Border Patrol agencies.
The groups reported discriminatory tactics against community residents, primarily against Latino community members. The groups identified the following situations:
1.     Border Patrol agents frequently stopped vehicles away from the border under a pretext or for no reason. These vehicles were primarily full of Latino passengers. Legally there are no 4th Amendment rights against searches and seizures for US citizens or noncitizens at the border. But, here, Border Patrol is not stopping vehicles at the border. Additionally, they do not have authority to arrest people for traffic violations.

2.     Local law enforcement is calling Border Patrol interpreters also ask questions about reported criminal activity, like for domestic violence reports. It has been reported that Border Patrol officers are conducting their own immigration investigations when they are called to interpret non-immigration issues. The consequence is that more immigrants will fear calling the police because they will fear that the police will be in contact with Border Patrol, and more crimes will go unpunished.
I would add that Border Patrol agents who conduct criminal investigations will likely produce inadmissible evidence that the courts will not consider in a trial. A police officer cannot legally just uncover any stone to find incriminating evidence, else a person’s 4th Amendment reasonable expectancy of privacy will be violated.
The letter offers a solution to forbid DHS from providing interpretations assistance in routine law enforcement matters, unless in emergency circumstances. As an immigration lawyer, I favor this proposal.

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