In a new report, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan said the U.S. Border Patrol in Michigan uses racial profiling to target immigrants from Latin America throughout the state.
According to the report, more than 96% of those arrested by the Border Patrol in the state are recorded as non-white.
The report also said that nearly 84% of all non-citizens detained in Michigan by the Border Patrol are from Latin America originally. In comparison less than 17% of Michigan's foreign born population falls in that category.
"Border Patrol is constantly in our neighborhood, and we're constantly living in fear," said Cindy Gamboa, community organizing and advocacy director of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation. "And 'Driving while Brown,' speaking Spanish or simply appearing Latino makes us a target, and long-standing community members, including U.S. citizens, have experinced this unfair treatment repeatedly."
"They're able to do this in part because local and state law enforcement are deeply entangled with Border Patrol," said Monica Andrade, an attorney with the Michigan ACLU and a co-author of the report along with Goeff Alan Boyce, academic director of Earlham College's Border Studies Program.
Andrade said nearly half of Border Patrol apprehensions start with a traffic stop by police who frequently reach out to Border Patrol for language translation and other assistance that she said should be handled internally by law enforcement agencies.
The report also said that Border Patrol's mandate is to police the border, and yet it operates far from the border.
Andrade noted that only 1.3% of the agency's arrests are for illegal crossings from Canada.
The Michigan ACLU disputes the Border Patrol's assertion that it can operate across the entire state, including conducting warrantless searches of vehicles and other forms of transportation.
The Michigan ACLU is calling on lawmakers to restrict Border Patrol enforcement to the immediate border, to stop state and local police from collaborating with federal immigration officials, to end racial profiling of immigrants, and to allow non-citizens to obtain drivers licenses in Michigan.
The Border Patrol responded to the report with a statement that said in part that its policies prohibit discrimination by race and ethnicity and that its agents have the legal authority to operate throughout the state.