1.01.2011

La Migra de Obama

Outside of Las Cruces, NM, an agent interrogates a Vietnamese exchange student about his immigration status.  The bus was filled to capacity with about 55 riders.  I was only one of about 5 white persons aboard.





I take the bus between Louisiana, New Mexico, and California often.

Since the early days of the G.W. Bush administration Border Patrol agents have been boarding buses and creeping around stations trying to detain and deport undocumented immigrants.  The Obama administration actually seems to have stepped up these activities with more aggressive methods.

On a recent trip from Louisiana to California my bus was stopped and searched twice by teams of Border Patrol agents.

After ordering passengers off Border Patrol agents used a canine unit to search the bus.  One of the officers demanded I erase these pictures immediately after snapping this one, claiming that it was illegal to document their activities.
The first stop was between Las Cruces and Deming, NM, where the bus was pulled over and all 55 passengers were first interrogated about their citizenship and immigration status aboard the bus, and then ordered off while agents searched our luggage with dogs.

The second stop came in Blythe, CA, where agents detained three young Latinos who boarded the bus in Las Cruces.  The three young men had taken seats at the back and were trying to remain inconspicuous, but one of the agents homed in on them using racial profiling tactics.  When the three Spanish speakers couldn't provide proof of US citizenship one agent called to the others toward the front of the bus, "we've got three more of them here!"  They were taken away in the night, hands binded, placed in the back of a converted cabbed pickup truck to be transported to a holding facility awaiting deportation.

Thanks Google Car
Thanks Google Car
At the first stop in Deming I photographed the Border Patrol team aboard the bus and as they search it without passengers aboard.  I was nearly detained for taking the second photograph.  One agent yelled at me to "delete that picture," claiming I was endangering him, his family, and that it was illegal to take photos at this particular federal facility.  Whether it is, or is not, I believe there's a public service to be performed in posting these.  And besides, Google has already made excellent 360 degree photos of the facility along with satellite views of it available on the web.


Questions:

1.  Is it constitutional for federal agents to demand proof of our citizenship, immigration status, and identifying documents if we're not crossing a border?  Do these activities not constitute an illegal search and seizure?

2.  Why has Obama seemingly escalated Border Patrol activities targeting immigrants on domestic public transport like Greyhound, Amtrak, and other carriers?

3.  I've noticed that passengers on the Greyhound buses, at least in the Southern and Southwestern US, are 90% people of color, whereas in airports whites constitute a much higher percentage of passengers.  If Border Patrol claims to not racially profile in order to police travelers' immigration status, should not Border Patrol also be in airports, boarding airplanes and lurking about terminals?

4.  How would you respond to seeing fellow human beings dragged off the bus in the night to be incarcerated in some corporate immigrant prison and finally deported?  I ask because I'm seriously at a loss to express my outrage and opposition to this state sponsored xenophobia.

2 comments:

Maguro said...

Many of the children and their parents I work with travel during the holidays to be with their families, some going to Mexico, others to Fresno, Bakersfield, etc.

Most make the days-long journey in their own cars, rather than on public transportation. But I often think about them traveling and wonder how they do it as it surely becomes increasingly difficult year after year to make it back safely. Thanks for another great eye opening post.

The Bohemian Teacher said...

Thanks for sharing. That was a real eye opener on racial profiling in the US! And to answer your question, we can do nothing when our fellow human beings are dragged off the bus in the middle of the night. That's how our system works, either favoring one class or silencing another! x
Caro