The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) and the ACLU of Washington, along with Perkins Coie LLP, announced today that they filed a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Border Patrol’s practice of stopping vehicles and interrogating people without legal justification.
NWIRP hopes that the federal courts will step in and ban the Border Patrol from these abusive practices. NWIRP sent out this press release, which details the lawsuit and compelling stories of three of its plaintiffs. These three plaintiffs represent the not uncommon situations that many residents of the Peninsula have experienced with Border Patrol agents. The stories of Jose Sanchez, Ismael Ramos Contreras, and Ernest Grimes, are excerpted below from NWIRP’s press release.
Jose Sanchez is a resident of Forks and a U.S. citizen who works as a correctional officer for the Olympic Corrections Center. In 2011, Mr. Sanchez was stopped by agents because his “windows were too dark”, even though the driver’s side window was not tinted. Mr. Sanchez was asked about where he was from. In an earlier incident, Mr. Sanchez was stopped for his windows being too dark. The agents never asked for insurance or registration, but when Mr. Sanchez produced them, they did not inspect them. Finally, in a third incident, Mr. Sanchez was followed to his home by Border Patrol agents, who then approached him. When Mr. Sanchez started recording with his cell phone, the agents left. When Mr. Sanchez called to complain about the incidents, he was told “We have certain cars that we need to pull over.”
Ishmael Ramos Contreras is a resident of Forks and serves as student body president at Forks High School. In 2011, he was stopped with friends by four Border Patrol agents, one of whom tried to take the key out of the ignition. The agents did not say why they stopped the car, but they interrogated Mr. Ramos Contreras about his immigration status. In 2010, Mr. Ramos Contreras was leaving the Clallam County Courthouse with his mother when a person approached him, addressed him by name, and started asking questions about where he lived and where he was from. The person turned out to be a Border Patrol agent who was in plain clothes wearing their badge backward.
Ernest Grimes is a Neah Bay resident and works as a correctional officer at Clallam Bay Corrections Center and as a part-time police officer. In 2011, Mr. Grimes was stopped by a Border Patrol agent, who approached his vehicle with a weapon in hand and yelled to roll down the window. The agent provided no reason for a stop, but interrogated Mr. Grimes about his immigration status. Mr. Grimes was wearing his correctional officer uniform at the time.