In New England, undercover Federal agents are following people into stores and interrogating them simply because they are speaking a foreign language.
Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit claiming that the U.S. Border Patrol is sending undercover agents into stores to interrogate and arrest suspected illegal immigrants because they were speaking Spanish.
Exhibit C of the complaint gives a detailed account of how two Border Patrol agents, James Loomis and Brendan Burns, followed a few alleged illegal immigrants from Vermont into a thrift shop in West Lebanon, New Hampshire.
On March 20th, 2019, agents Loomis and Burns were in an unmarked service vehicle in plain clothes with no badges or weapons visible when they followed Carlos Avila-Lucas and his friends into a thrift shop and interrogated them.
“Loomis asked Avila, how are you today? Avila responded in broken English, Good, thank you. Loomis then responded to the subject saying, They have some good stuff in here don’t they? Avila appeared confused as if he didn’t quite understand what Loomis had said.”
DHS claims that Avila, “appeared uninterested with conversing with Loomis so the conversation ended.” And that should have been the end of it right?
But it wasn’t.
According to Exhibit C, Loomis moved over to another part of the store and began to question the second subject (later identified as Batz-Tzul) whom he had seen exit the Chevrolet Suburban.
“Loomis observed Batz pick up a small speaker and asked Batz, Hey sir, is that a speaker? Batz replied in very broken English, Yes, this speaks. As he motioned his hand to imply a mouth talking. Loomis then asked Batz, I’m looking for a microwave, do you know where they keep those? Batz looked confused and stated, No speak English. Loomis then asked Batz, You don’t. speak English, what. language do you speak? Batz replied, Spanish. Loomis then asked Batz, Where are you from? Batz replied, Guatemala.”
In the Exhibit, DHS referred to these interrogations as “consensual encounters”,
“At approximately 1330 hours, James Loomis informed me that he had engaged in a consensual encounter with two (2) adult males (later identified as Avila-Lucas, Florentin ****, Batz-Tzul, Miguel Antonio ****.”
How are these “consensual encounters” with law enforcement? How would anyone know that they are really Federal Agents masquerading as everyday people asking questions?
Is this what it means to be a part of law enforcement today? Hiding one’s identity hoping to get someone to admit that they are here illegally?
Border Patrol agents use facial recognition to identify bus passengers
According to an article in The Press Herald, Border Patrol agents are using facial recognition to identify bus passengers.
Border patrol agents stopped travelers to ask about their citizenship at the Brunswick transportation station in Maine last week, a move which American Civil Liberties Union officials say “erodes basic Fourth Amendment rights.”
“Agents used a mobile biometric device, which uses fingerprints, facial recognition and voice recognition to identify a passenger. Emma Bond, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Maine, said in an email that the checks, which she called bus raids, erode basic Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches.”
Border Patrol follows people into stores for speaking Spanish
According to the New York Times, Border Patrol agents have been following people into stores for speaking Spanish since at least 2018.
“Ana Suda does not recall what they discussed while they browsed the store, but she knows they conversed in Spanish.”
That was all it took for a Border Patrol agent also in the store to interject. “He looked at us and said, Where are you guys born? ” Ms. Suda said. (To find out about Suda’s lawsuit click here.)
As recently as four days ago, WGME 13 in Bangor, Maine revealed that Border Patrol agents followed a family into a store because they looked Central-American.
The family “appeared to be of Central-American origin,” a Border Patrol agent wrote in federal court records, and the agents “overheard several people speaking Spanish” inside the store. Then, the agents approached the people and asked where they were from.
Undercover federal agents following people into stores based solely on speaking a foreign language turns America into a quasi-police state.
If DHS is allowed to use the Patriot Act to target people for speaking a foreign language, what’s to stop them from taking it a step further?
What’s to stop Federal agents from targeting activists and anti-government protesters or anyone else the government wants to make an example of?
How long before Border Patrol agents start targeting journalists and accuse them of being propaganda writers? Oh right, that is already happening.