Today, the ACLU’s Border Litigation Project released a damning report on the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection “interior operations” that should serve as a wake up call for Washington policy makers.
Titled “Record of Abuse: Lawlessness and Impunity in Border Patrol’s Interior Enforcement Operations”, the 31 page report is supplemented by hundreds of pages of documents obtained through an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The ACLU Arizona chapter’s summary of the report noted the following:
Border Patrol’s records contain recurring examples of agents terrorizing motorists far into the interior of the country; detaining and searching innocent travelers after false alerts by service canines; threatening motorists with assault rifles and other weapons; destroying personal property; and interfering with attempts to video record agents. These abuse records substantially outnumber the annual complaint totals DHS oversight agencies disclosed to Congress.
Border Patrol does not record stops of motorists that do not result in arrest, or false canine alerts that lead to searches of innocent suspects. Substantive investigations into civil rights violations are rare and almost never result in disciplinary consequences. Despite numerous reports of abuse and corruption, the records contain only one example of disciplinary action of any kind.
Border Patrol’s own data undermines the agency’s public claims that checkpoints are efficient and effective: in 2013, Tucson Sector checkpoint apprehensions accounted for only 0.67 percent of the sector’s total apprehensions. The same year, Yuma Sector checkpoint arrests of U.S. citizens exceeded those of non-citizens by a factor of nearly eight (and in 2011, by a factor of eleven).