FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Northern Border Coalition
Feb. 7, 2012
Contact: Ruth Lopez-McCarthy, (773) 458-0459, ruth@northernbordercoalition.
Northern Border Coalition States Fed Up With Border Policies
Many Organizations Demand Changes in Border Patrol
[Detroit] – For the first time ever, northern border states have united to urge the Department of Homeland Security to reform the Border Patrol division of Customs and Border Protection. For years, northern border residents have endured civil and human rights violations, documenting a long history of racial and religious profiling, harassment, abusive interrogation, searches without probable cause, road checkpoints and sweeps of public transit. In response, many residents and advocacy groups, organized under the Northern Borders Coalition, have signed on to a major position statement, which calls on Secretary Janet Napolitano to take back control of her rogue department. This Sign-On letter will be delivered to Sec. Napolitano Tuesday, February 7th, in coordination with several other events during the month of February that call attention to the fundamental problems with the way DHS patrol our nation’s northern borders.
The sign-on letter was put together by northern border organizations that work with, for, and in the communities that suffer abuses by border patrol agents. These organizations included Alliance for Immigration Reform- Michigan and New York Immigration Coalition, among others. In addition to the sign-on letter to be delivered to Sec. Napolitano, additional organizing efforts include a Northern Border Conference in Detroit on February 23 & 24th, and a “We Are the Border” National Day of Action on February 28th. That day of action marks the one year anniversary of the death of Alex Martinez, a US Citizen, who was shot and killed by U.S. Border Patrol and Local Law Enforcement in Washington State. His story is just one of thousands of people who’ve been mistreated in border communities. It’s clear that U.S. Border Patrol is abusing their authority and our communities.
“The letter details various incidents where CBP has subjected both US Citizens and non- citizens to several violations” said Ryan Bates, executive director of Alliance for Immigration Reform- Michigan. “Sec. Napolitano must understand the urgency in reigning in the staff and officers of the Border Patrol. Changes must be made immediately in the northern border regions in order to avoid further human rights violations.”
For example, in 2011 at a family birthday party in Nooksack, Washington, a small girl had an accident and fell in the driveway. Her mother called 911 for an ambulance. In addition to medical help, firefighters, Sheriff’s Deputies, and Border Patrol agents all arrived at the home. Border Patrol agents walked around the party asking people for names and other information. Many guests ran inside the home and closed the door. The residents of the home were U.S. Citizens with the last name of Martinez (different family than the example listed above).
“Racial profiling, aggressive interrogation, and questionable collaboration between Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and state and local law enforcement have become the norm along the northern border in New York,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “Such enforcement tactics fail to secure our border and violate constitutional safeguards that apply to U.S. citizens and immigrants alike. While CBP maintains that these enforcement practices are necessary to prevent unauthorized entry into the U.S., the reality is that CBP’s actions have drifted inland, many miles from the border, tearing apart families and burdening taxpayers with the cost of detaining individuals who pose no threat to our national security.
The Northern Border Coalition will take the next step in its organizing efforts at a national conference in Detroit, Michigan.
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To learn more about The Northern Borders Coalition, please contact ruth@northernbordercoalition.