House Democrats are asking the Biden Administration for answers after a report accused Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents of racially profiling Latinos in Michigan.
In a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasFederal officers detail abuse described by asylum seekers Senate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation Ending worksite raids is a show; focus should be on employer compliance MORE dated last week, Reps. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben Raskin'You're a joke': Greene clashes with Cheney, Raskin on House floor Cheney becomes GOP's Trump foil Jan. 6 panel votes to hold Bannon in contempt MORE (D-Md.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibIlhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' Who's the boss? Pelosi's legacy sealed after kowtowing to 'the Squad' Democratic civil war hits new heights MORE (D-Mich.) asked for a briefing on efforts to “respond to serious allegations of discrimination and misuse of taxpayer resources” by agents on Michigan’s border with Canada.
“We are deeply troubled by what appear to be discriminatory abuses of authority and misuse of taxpayer funds. DHS must provide a full explanation of exactly how it is addressing the problems laid bare by the ACLU,” the lawmakers wrote.
The letter comes after an analysis from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan found that Border Patrol agents “routinely spend their time and resources targeting people of Latin American origin who are long-term Michigan residents.”
In a statement, a CBP spokesperson said its Detroit sector "prioritizes enforcement efforts on criminal aliens and targeting and dismantling Transnational Criminal Organizations."
"It is the policy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prohibit the consideration of race or ethnicity in law enforcement, investigation, and screening activities, in all but the most exceptional circumstances. As such, CBP is fully committed to the fair, impartial and respectful treatment of all members of the trade and traveling public," the spokesperson said.
ACLU looked at apprehension records from 2012 to 2019 that a federal judge ordered CBP to disclose.
The report found that 85 percent of noncitizens apprehended at the border were from Latin America, despite the fact that people of Latin American origin make up only 16.8 percent of the state’s foreign-born population.
ACLU said it was “even more striking” that the vast majority of people arrested while entering or attempting to enter the northern border without authorization are “either citizens of Canada or originally from a European nation.”
In instances where arrests were made during traffic stops, CBP agents cited drivers' reactions to seeing a Border Patrol vehicle or officer as a reason to be suspicious, the report said.
“Taken together, these findings suggest that CBP’s operations in Michigan are focused less on its lawful enforcement priorities than on harassing longtime residents of Michigan in a way that appears to systematically and disproportionately target those of Latin American origin,” the lawmakers wrote.
ACLU said in a statement that it looks forward to DHS’s response to the report and “the reforms that come from this briefing.”
--Updated at 11:59 a.m.