U.S. Border Patrol agents are increasing surprise inspections on domestic trains, buses and ferries, arresting illegal immigrants far from the border, says USA Today. In Vermont, Washington, Louisiana, New York and elsewhere, the agents, who have authority to search any mode of transportation within 100 miles of the border, are working routes that don’t cross into Canada or Mexico. Most checks are at bus and train stations and ferry terminals. In February, agents began checking passengers on the ferry between Washington’s San Juan Islands and the terminal in Anacortes, Wa. So far they have caught 59 illegal immigrants, two with criminal records, and eight U.S. citizens, most on drug violations.
Civil liberties advocates argue that the agents focus on certain passengers based on skin color and accent. “They will see a white person and ask, ‘Where were you born?’ Then they will see a person of color and ask, ‘Do you have ID?’ ” says Caroline Kim of the Detainment Task Force in Syracuse, which helps detained immigrants through the legal process. The Border Patrol says it does not engage in racial profiling.