Photo: Border Patrol
Activists in the U.S. Southwest are offering tips to local Hispanic populations on what to do when stopped at one of the Border Patrol’s internal checkpoints.
“The border communities are tired of suffering abuses by border agents at the checkpoints. We’ve received many complaints about civil violations,” James Duff Lyall, an attorney for ACLU of Arizona, told Efe on Wednesday.
Lyall said that several volunteers in the border community of Arivaca have spent months documenting the abuses committed by the agents, and the main complaints are of unjustified searches and arrests and the use of immigration as a pretext to look for signs of possible criminal activity.
In representing the border communities, the ACLU has presented several complaints to the Department of Homeland Security about these practices, but so far a satisfactory response has not been received.
“The main problem is that there is nobody who supervises the actions of the Border Patrol,” Lyall said, adding that he feels that the federal agents in charge of the checkpoints “don’t understand” the limits of their authority.
Organizations like Border Action Network recommend that any person who feels their civil rights have been violated try to obtain the name or identification number of the official in question.
They urge immigrants not to hand over false documents or to claim that they are U.S. citizens, and - if possible - to use their cell phones to tape their conversation with the agent.
“It’s illegal for the agent to make a decision based only on a person’s race or skin color,” Juanita Molina, the director of the Arizona-based network, told Efe.
This problem equally affects the communities along the border with Mexico, where informational events were held simultaneously on Wednesday in Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico.
“A strong message is being sent to the federal government about the irregularities that are occurring at the checkpoints,” Brian Erickson, the representative of the ACLU’s Regional Center for Border Rights in New Mexico, told Efe.