Border Patrol and Ohio Law Enforcement Engage in Racial Profiling in Northern Ohio, New Report Finds

Border Patrol and Ohio Law Enforcement Engage in Racial Profiling in Northern Ohio, New Report Finds

By American Immigration Council Staff | Immigration Impact

ABLE and the American Immigration Council published a report on March 19 analyzing data suggesting that the collusion between U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Sandusky Bay station and Ohio law enforcement led to racial profiling. The report also highlights troubling practices used by Ohio local law enforcement officers to detain immigrants in their jurisdictions so that Border Patrol agents could conduct immigration investigations.

Through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, ABLE and the Council obtained and reviewed a systemic sample of I-213s (akin to arrest reports), Border Patrol’s Apprehension Log, and other records related to the Border Patrol’s enforcement activities near the northern U.S. border in Ohio. The Council and ABLE analyzed the data and confirmed what community organizations in the area experienced and reported—racial profiling and problematic apprehension practices by both Border Patrol and local law enforcement.

The report included the following key findings:

  • Almost 68% of the I-213s sample were males, classified as laborers of Latin American origin between the ages of 18 and 55, deemed to have darker skin.
  • More than half of the arrests noted in the I-213s sample were initiated by Ohio local law enforcement.
  • 69% of all I-213s in the sample had no noted criminal history.
  • Ohio law enforcement officers frequently requested that Border Patrol agents assist them with identification checks even though the vehicle occupants already provided valid identification.

The report also revealed that Border Patrol agents and Ohio law enforcement agencies often used troubling tactics to initiate the detention of suspected immigrants. Law enforcement agencies like Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) used traffic stops to initiate suspects’ detention that led to immigration investigations.

Numerous I-213s showed a common pattern of conduct: an OSHP trooper stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation such as speeding; the driver showed the trooper identification from another jurisdiction, such as a valid out-of-state license; the trooper contacted Border Patrol to “assist” in identifying the driver. All too often, Border Patrol agents investigated and detained not only the drivers, but the passengers as well. These detentions led to arrests, immigration detention, and likely removals.

The collusion between local law enforcement agencies and Border Patrol is well-known to northern Ohio communities. State and local law enforcement agencies like the OSHP often work in concert with Border Patrol agents in constructing a dragnet that serves as a force multiplier for Border Patrol to funnel immigrants—mostly Latinos without a criminal history—into deportation proceedings. These enforcement practices often go unchecked despite accounts suggesting a pattern of potentially unconstitutional practices.

This unchecked enforcement upends the lives of immigrants who have developed deep ties to the United States and often impacts U.S. citizens and immigrants with lawful status who are part of mixed status families. It also makes Latino residents and people of color who are U.S. citizens or lawful immigrants undue targets of enforcement. Immigrants of color, including those of Latin American origin who live, travel, or work in Ohio, often bear the brunt of these disproportionate and discriminatory immigration enforcement practices.

The report includes recommendations at the state and federal level to ameliorate the harmful impact these tactics have on communities. The recommendations call for limiting the circumstances when local law enforcement officers can request identification assistance from Border Patrol, including a request for local law enforcement agencies to cease the practice of asking passengers for identification when there is no probable cause of criminal activity.

ABLE and the Council also call for greater transparency and oversight, including ways by which victims of racial profiling can report complaints. Immigration judges and the government’s lawyers in removal proceedings should also be keenly aware of the information in the report so that they may consider it in making case determinations for individuals who have been victims of these practices.

The report confirms stories from ABLE’s Latinx and farmworker client communities who have been targeted by Ohio’s local law enforcement and Border Patrol’s unjust collaboration for over 15 years. The data in this report suggests what ABLE clients have always known: this collusion unfairly targets Latinx individuals and people of color. It also underscores the importance of transparency and data collection to hold immigration enforcement agencies accountable when they violate individuals’ civil rights and ensure meaningful oversight.

Thousands of miles away from the southern border, families are being separated and individuals discriminately fast-tracked through the deportation pipeline. It is crucial that these tactics come to light so that communities can fight against them.

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