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Border Patrol to Share Records in Racial Profiling Settlement

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on September 26, 2013 3:33 PM

The U.S. Border Patrol settled a racial profiling lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit that alleged agents were racially profiling people in a rural area of Washington state.

As part of the settlement, the Border Patrol agreed to share records of every traffic stop it makes in Washington's Olympic Peninsula for 18 months.

Racial Profiling Lawsuit and Settlement

The lawsuit in Washington state was borne by mounting tensions between immigrants and Border Control agents on the Olympic Peninsula, reports The Associated Press.

Many immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala moved to the rural area to work in the forests picking salal, an ornamental leaf.

Racial profiling violates the principles of equal protection and the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures. Such profiling violates federal law in a variety of situations.

Complaints typically occur when a person suspects she is being stopped solely because of her race, which is repugnant to the Fourth Amendment's reasonable suspicion requirement.

In this case, Border Control agents allegedly stopped and interrogated three American citizens (on separate occasions) about their immigration status. In each instance, the agents never provided a reason for the stop, reports the AP.

The government's attorneys sought a settlement after a judge denied their motion to dismiss the case.

Though a settlement was reached, much to the dismay of immigrants' rights advocates, the Border Patrol admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.

Settlement Requirements

Pursuant to the settlement, every six months for 18 months, the Border Patrol will provide the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project copies of the forms its agents must fill out after every traffic stop in the Olympic Peninsula, reports the AP.

The agency also agreed to retrain its agents in the Peninsula region on the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and requires warrants.

Like writing on a chalkboard in detention, the agency will also write a letter reaffirming the rule that agents must comply with the Fourth Amendment's requirements while on patrol.

Matt Adams, legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, hopes "that the reporting requirements and the additional training will ultimately provide greater accountability, and restore a measure of dignity for folks who live in this region," reports the AP.

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