FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUCSON—The ACLU of Arizona and two University of Arizona law professors filed a public information lawsuit today against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for records relating to U.S. Border Patrol’s interior enforcement operations in southern Arizona.
DHS has completely ignored two requests (here and here) for public information relating to Border Patrol’s roving patrols and checkpoints in the Tucson and Yuma sectors. The requests were filed in January by attorney James Lyall, of the ACLU’s Border Litigation Project, and Derek and Jane Bambauer, professors at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.
“It’s outrageous that the leaders of the nation’s largest law enforcement agency think that they can simply ignore lawful requests for public information,” Lyall said. “For Border Patrol to be held accountable they have to be transparent. But the agency consistently refuses to share basic information with the American people while rights violations are rampant.”
Border Patrol conducts extensive and wide-ranging interior enforcement operations far from the border in southern Arizona. The ACLU believes many of these operations are unlawful. The lawsuit filed today seeks agency policies, stop data and complaints, among other things, about checkpoints and roving patrols.
The ACLU has documented numerous cases of civil liberties abuses by Border Patrol agents at checkpoints and in roving patrols in southern Arizona: unlawful vehicle stops and searches, excessive use of force, racial profiling, destruction of private property and trespassing.
Past public information requests, in Washington and New York, have uncovered widespread abuses by Border Patrol agents, including racial profiling and detention of lawfully present individuals. A review of public information about Border Patrol operations in southern Arizona is necessary to better understand the extent of the civil liberties violations along the Arizona border.
“We shouldn’t have to go as far as filing a lawsuit to get these records,” said Professor Derek Bambauer. “This is public information about a matter of pressing public concern. We cannot allow DHS and Border Patrol to continue operating in our communities without being subject to public scrutiny.”