Posted on May 12, 2005

ACLU Scrutinizing Border Patrol Arrest Documents

Brenda Gazzar, San Bernardino County Sun, May 11

The American Civil Liberties Union is reviewing several hundred Border Patrol records from last June’s arrests of undocumented residents in inland areas including Ontario and Corona.


The documents include forms by arresting agents detailing how, where and when persons were apprehended, their country of origin and how quickly they were processed.


“They will try to make the case that Border Patrol engaged in racial profiling or some wrongdoing, but they are really grasping at straws here,’ said T. J. Bonner, spokesman of the National Border Patrol Council.

Last June, the Temecula Station’s 12-member mobile patrol group arrested more than 400 people on the streets of cities in San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.

Such arrests, dubbed “sweeps’ by the community, stopped after the former undersecretary of border and transportation security said the group acted within its legal authority but without prior approval from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Headquarters.

The Border Patrol documents reveal that people were processed for arrests and agreed in writing to return to their home country in less than one hour, Natarajan said. Some appear to have been processed in 10 or 15 minutes, and the vast majority of the nearly 400 people arrested between June 2 and June 15 were voluntarily deported, she said.

“I think it’s very hard to believe that people were really apprised of their rights in such a short time,’ Natarajan said, who is still analyzing the documents.


Some records suggest agents believed someone could be undocumented because they spoke Spanish, Natarajan said. If that’s the only basis, then that’s “not good law enforcement.’

Bonner argued that someone’s inability to speak English is one factor that can be used in the equation, but cannot be the only factor since it does not prove whether someone is illegal.

“It raises legitimate questions about why they don’t speak English,’ he said.