Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08), the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), a Member of the Subcommittee, sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, seeking a briefing and information about serious allegations of discrimination by Michigan Customs and Border Patrol agents across administrations.

The letter comes after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan published a report, which concluded that CBP’s activity in the state “produces few tangible results related to its officially mandated mission in Michigan” and that CBP agents “routinely spend their time and resources targeting people of Latin American origin who are long-term Michigan residents.”   

The report was based on more than 13,000 CBP apprehension records from 2012 to 2019, which revealed disturbing patterns of discrimination and wasteful spending.  More than 85% of noncitizens detained by CBP in Michigan during that timeframe were of Latin American origin, even though only 5.3% of Michigan’s population identify as Hispanic or Latino.  At the same time, 70% of illegal crossings on the United States’ northern border are committed by individuals of Canadian or European origins, but less than 4% of the CBP’s overall detentions involved white individuals.

“Taken together, these findings suggest that CBP’s operations in Michigan are focused less on its lawful enforcement priorities than on harassing longtime residents of Michigan in a way that systematically and disproportionately target those of Latin American origin,” the Members wrote.

In the letter, the Members also pointed out that CBP considers the entire state of Michigan to fall within a 100-mile “border zone,” where federal agents have the power to conduct stops and searches without a warrant.  Nearly two-thirds of the American population reside within this area, which one scholar has called a “zone of diminished constitutional protections.”   

Chairman Raskin and Rep. Tlaib requested a briefing on efforts by DHS to respond to the findings of the ACLU’s report and its plans to reform the power of federal agents within the 100-mile “border zone” by  September 1, 2021.  They also requested documents and information related to CBP’s activities in Michigan and across the country.

Click here to read the letter to Secretary Mayorkas.