Published February 01, 2013
It's money for migrants at the U.S. Border Patrol, according to two immigrant rights groups.
A report by New York-based immigrant rights group Families for Freedom (FFF) and New York University’s Immigrant Rights Clinic claims the Border Patrol encourages its agents to apprehend undocumented immigrants through various incentive programs that include cash bonuses, vacation awards, and gift cards from stores like Home Depot and Macys.
“There has long been anecdotal evidence that USBP’s ‘show me your papers’ policing results in the harassment, arrest and detention of many individuals who are lawfully present,” according to the report. “Those caught in USBP’s dragnet include U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, tourists, student visa‐holders and persons with proper authorization to work in the United States.”
The Border Patrol vehemently denied the allegations.
"No such practice of paid incentives and awards for specific human targets or enforcement actions has ever occurred within the Border Patrol, nor will it ever occur within the ranks of any CBP component,” according to a CBP statement.
Looking into cases in the Border Patrol’s Rochester, New York and the Buffalo sectors, FFF found that agents received bonuses of up to $2,500 a year per agent if they detained undocumented immigrants. In the Buffalo sector alone, the total cash awards allotted in 2003 was $6,000 while it sky rocketed to $194,890 in the fiscal year 2011.
There were also 300 cases of wrongful arrests reported; with the majority of detentions occurring with people of color from Africa, South and East Asia, and the Caribbean.
“Every one of these people arrested suffers the humiliation and inconvenience of being taken from trains and buses carrying their belongings, often in the middle of the night and holding the hands of small children,” The report stated. “Because of this arrest, they will have official, permanent “arrest” records attached to their names and fingerprints, even when the arrest was due to USBP error.”
But CBP insists it does not tolerate racial profiling.
“Our officers and agents are trained in how to recognize people and situations that present a potential threat or violation of law without regard to race,” it said in a statement.
The FFF argued for a shuttering of the Border Patrol’s bonus system and that the Department of Homeland Security needs to watch over the Border Patrol for any unnecessary and wrongful acts.
“These programs are not tied to any enforcement priorities and impose hardship on all persons, and especially persons of color who seek to live and travel throughout the United States,” the report states.