Riverside Border Patrol Office Among Those to be Closed — Was Investigated in 2009 Racial Profiling and Quota Scandal

In 2009 the Border Patrol office in Riverside, California,  was accused of racial profiling in order to meet their performance quotas.  Border Patrol agent Tony Plattel, who helped blow the whistle on the illegal racial profiling, was fired shortly thereafter in early 2009 for “insubordination”.

Press Enterprise:  IMMIGRATION: Border Patrol to close Riverside office  (July 10 2012)

Immigration rights activists lauded an announcement that the Riverside office of the U.S. Border Patrol will be closing within six months, while critics of the plan said the absence of Inland agents will leave the region open to drug running, human trafficking and other criminal activity  …  The Riverside office has attracted controversy, including protests in 2009 amid accusations of arrest quotas by agents and racial profiling  …

The 2008 quota system — which the agency denied existed — prompted the detention of almost 300 people over several months, most of them day laborers who didn’t have access to legal services or family support, Amaya said.  Amaya was among the protesters who rallied at the Riverside office in 2009 after Border Patrol agents boarded a bus and arrested five passengers on immigration charges, and after allegations that the Riverside office had arrest quotas.

Protests also were held in 2009 after Riverside police called the Border Patrol following the arrest of 12 day laborers on relatively minor charges. Eleven were detained on immigration charges.  “Most of the people that would be apprehended were not the criminals they were supposed to be looking for. They were members of the community, with family who were U.S. residents,” Amaya said.

Lake Elsinore – Wildomar Patch:  Local Border Patrol Office To Close: Impact On Illegal Immigration Unclear  (July 11 2012)

The Riverside office was among nine CBP stations placed on a closure list released last week  …  The Riverside CBP office has come under fire in the past for what pro- immigrants’ rights groups criticized as overzealous enforcement practices. In 2009, the Justice for Immigrants Coalition held protests outside the station, displaying videos of raids in which agents made random detentions and chased people into homes and markets to arrest them.  The group alleged the Riverside-based agents were trying to meet monthly arrest quotas, which the CBP adamantly denied.

Fontana Herald:  Riverside office of Border Patrol will be shut down (July 25 2012)

In 2009, the station’s reputation was questioned when rumors began that its agents committed racial profiling to meet quotas. The rumors were corroborated by Lombardo Amaya, president of border patrol agents in the region, but federal administrators categorically denied the charge.  The reports that agents had to arrest at least 150 undocumented immigrants per month caused panic in the region. Defenders of immigrants quickly gathered and protested the action.  Suzanne Foster, executive director of the Center for Economic Opportunity in Pomona, which fought the alleged quotas, said the closure is a victory for the community.

Background (2009):

L.A. Times:  Border Patrol to investigate quota allegations at Riverside office (Feb. 3 2009)

The issue surfaced last week when some of the office’s nine agents told their union representative that they were ordered to make 150 arrests in January or risk having their job schedules rearranged, said Lombardo Amaya, president of Local 2554 of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents the Riverside office.

“Quotas are unfair,” Amaya said. “You cannot tell my members that they need to generate this number of apprehensions and if they don’t, they don’t get their days off or they get their shift changed. I have received complaints from almost the entire office.


 

Press Enterprise (via officer.com):  Inland Latinos say Border Patrol engages in racial profiling

In an effort to show U.S. Border Patrol agents how to spike up arrest numbers, the head of the agency’s Riverside office recently went to a gas station and interrogated the first Latino man he saw, an official with the Border Patrol agents’ union said.  After the man proved he was a legal resident, the agency head walked up to another Latino man, who was pumping gas, the union official said. That man was arrested on immigration charges.

As the Border Patrol steps up its enforcement in the Inland area, Latino and immigrant organizations are increasingly worried that agents are randomly pulling over Latino drivers on area roads and interrogating Latinos on city sidewalks.   Agents say they are being pressured by supervisors to increase apprehensions.

U.S.-born Luis Espinoza said he was driving down Main Street in Lake Elsinore several months ago when he was pulled over by a Border Patrol agent.  Emilio Amaya, executive director of an immigration-assistance group, said when Border Patrol agents go to the San Bernardino Greyhound station, they only query Latinos.  Riverside activists allege racial profiling in a Jan. 29 Border Patrol sweep of streets surrounding a day-labor site.

Former Riverside agent Tony Plattel said pressure to increase arrests that started in December 2007 caused agents to randomly question Latinos who they believed looked like recently arrived immigrants.  Plattel estimated that up to half of the people agents stopped were legal residents or citizens. He said he never saw an agent question a non-Latino.  Plattel was fired last month for insubordination.

Lombardo Amaya, president of Local 2554 of the National Border Patrol Council union, said the patrol agent in charge of the Riverside office, Ramon Chavez, was accompanied or followed by other agents and supervisors when he interrogated Latinos at the Riverside gas station, telling them “this is what you need to be doing.”

Ahilan Arulananthan, immigrant rights director of the Southern California ACLU, said the 2004 incidents, and recent allegations of random stops, appear to show that the Border Patrol repeatedly violates the constitutional rights of Inland Latinos.  “They interrogate and arrest people first and then try to develop reasonable suspicion about them afterward,” he said.  Agents can only legally stop people if they have reasonable suspicion they are illegal immigrants, Arulananthan said. Ethnicity and use of Spanish are not enough.

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