Action against Rampant Racial Profiling and Rights Violations Must Be Taken Near U.S. Borders


As the immigration issues grab headlines across the nation, congressional leaders have resorted to racial profiling and wasteful, military-style tactic reactions along the southern border, reflecting the deep misunderstanding that Capitol Hill has of communities on U.S. borders.

The nation’s largest law enforcement agency, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), has issues that these efforts have failed to address. They have failed to offer solutions that will move us forward together.

The corruption and unchecked abuse within CBP must be a part of any discussion regarding the US southern border and it seems the time is now to address reforming the agency. The Obama administration has the means to move forward and should do so immediately.

The administration released a report earlier this summer calling for a significant reform to CBP to help prevent widespread corruption and expand over-sight. CBP has come under critical observation as a nationwide debate continues around law enforcement’s relationship to communities, especially those of color.

For years, Customs and Border Protection has failed to hold its officers accountable when using excessive force against unarmed civilians and even killing. The agency fails to document and report racial inequalities and to detect and deter counterproductive racial profiling that undermines values of fairness and equality.  Individuals living their daily lives about 100 miles of the border experience CBP permanent checkpoints and patrols in their neighborhoods. A recent report was based on approximately 50 complaints in New Mexico and Texas discovering abuse such as racial profiling, unjustified searches and detentions, verbal and physical abuse. Approximately ninety percent of the people who were abused were US citizens and 81 percent were Latino.

A review of a mass of complaints provided by CBP’s Office of Internal Affairs revealed that officers were not held accountable in 97 percent of these cases by CBP. In May, the former Chief of Internal Affairs, James Tomsheck, came forth as a whistleblower, saying that he witnessed a “spike” of more than 35 sexual misconduct cases between 2012 and 2014 and an agency culture that ignored and swept away corruption.

The Obama administration stated its willingness to reverse the worst and most inhumane excesses of immigration enforcement. The administration established the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing to improve the relationship between police and communities. Despite this, the situations for many residents who call the region home show a dire need for action. In its last year and a half in office, the Obama Administration should move aggressively toward accountability, due process and human rights.