U.S. Border Patrol agents in western New York have been rewarded with cash bonuses and Home Depot gift cards, an incentive program that has grown at the same time as has an overly aggressive enforcement culture, reports the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. A new study by the New York University School of Law does not definitively link the incentive program and the enforcement practices, but it says that the Border Patrol culture — especially at the Rochester bus and train stations — is one that “maximizes arrest rates.”
Between 2006 and 2010, close to 300 immigrants with legal status were arrested by Rochester-based Border Patrol agents then released, according to the study. The rewards program in the Buffalo office of the Border Patrol, which oversees Rochester enforcement, was “ramped up from a few thousand dollars in 2003 to nearly $200,000 in 2011,” states the study, which NYU did in conjunction with the immigrant rights group, Families for Freedom. “Part of the problem here is that the Border Patrol has adopted a way of looking at the law that is they think that everybody has to be carrying (immigration papers) all the time unless they are a citizen,” said NYU law professor Nancy Morawetz, one of the researchers.