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Latino Daily News

Monday August 30, 2010

Border Patrol Questioning Passengers on Trains and Buses

Border Agents in the north routinely board Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains to check the immigration status of riders. Typically two questions are asked of passengers, “Are you a US Citizen? “And “What country were you born in?”  The agency says that although answering an agents questions are voluntary, passengers are not notified of this.

Hundreds of immigrants are taken to detention from trains and buses along our northern border each year. Border agents have jurisdiction to enforce immigration laws with-in 100 miles of the border. On a train from Chicago to New York, that never crosses any country border are often boarded in western New York State.

“At least in Arizona, you have to be doing something wrong to be stopped,” said a passenger who is a citizen of Chinese-American descent who said her Mexican boyfriend was sleeping when an agent started questioning him. “Here, you’re sitting on the train asleep and if you don’t look like a U.S. citizen, its ‘Wake up!’ ”

“I was actually woken up with a flashlight in my face,” recalled Mike Santomauro, 27, a law student who encountered the patrol in April, at 2 a.m. on a train in Rochester. Santomauro said it reminded him of travel through the old Communist bloc.

Immigration experts say the practice is coercive, unconstitutional and tainted by racial profiling.