Racial Profiling and Harassment in Southwest Detroit, Downriver alleged
Detroit, June 11, 2011: 50 community members rallied in Southwest Detroit today against “racial profiling and harassment” by agents of Customs and Border Protection (Border Patrol)
Testimonies were given by Lidia Reyes, Director of the Latino Family Services agency, and Ramón Morales, a victim of profiling.
“Border Patrol has harassed clients, staff, and even my husband outside of our community center,” said Reyes, “It’s not right to target us just because we are Latino. This isn’t law enforcement – it’s racial profiling. Border Patrol should be watching the border, not bothering people on the streets of Detroit.”
Reyes detailed two instances where Border Patrol agents had accosted her husband on his way to and from the center; one instance where her sister, an employee of the agency, had been harassed; an instance where Ms. Reyes herself and a client were targeted; and a final instance where a convoy of agents mounted on bicycles circled her agency repeatedly during a Cinco de Mayo event.
Reyes’ was joined by Ramón Morales, who told his story of profiling—Morales was driving down Fort Street in Detroit when he was stopped without explanation by Border Patrol agents. The agents searched the car, and subsequently detained Morales for an immigration violation. At the time, Morales was recovering from kidney surgery. While in detention at the Dearborn City Jail, Morales was denied access to his kidney medication and given filthy water to drink.
Leaders at the rally called on Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who oversees Border Patrol, to immediately rectify the situation. “Clearly the Department of Homeland Security is either unable or unwilling to properly control their operations in Detroit. First, ICE agents were surrounding elementary schools and conducting illegal searches, now Border Patrol agents are harassing immigrants at community centers. Instead of going after criminals, Border Patrol and ICE seem more interested in targeting immigrant workers and families. This endangers the civil rights of our communities and seriously hampers public safety,” said AIR Director Ryan Bates.
Customs and Border Protection at the Detroit/Windsor Border is already the subject of an official investigation resulting from reports of religious profiling made by Council on American Islamic Relations - Michigan. Agents aggressively and unnecessarily detained and questioned innocent Muslims at the border regarding their religion, worship practices, and where and with whom they worship.
On the Internet: www.michiganimmigrationreform.org
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