DETROIT – Citing growing concerns over border patrol’s persistent targeting and ongoing detention of individuals at the border based on their race, ethnicity or religion, a coalition of concerned advocacy agencies in Michigan announced the creation of a border complaint hotline today in honor of International Human Rights Day. Individuals with complaints are encouraged to call 313.578.6832.
“For two hundred years, America has shined as a beacon of personal freedom and justice. These last eight years have taken a toll on our national reputation,” said Kary L. Moss, American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan Executive Director. “Once a leader in the human rights arena, the U.S. has wavered in its commitment to upholding the values it puts forth. The racial and religious profiling that is allowed by the FBI and Border Patrol is only one example of how we have let our own protection of basic human rights and dignities degrade.”
The hotline, is designed for people to report law enforcement profiling based on race, ethnicity or religion, unreasonable detention at the border and airports, random stops by border patrol agents inland from the border, and seizure of electronic equipment at the border. It is a project of the ACLU of Michigan, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Detroit Branch NAACP, Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength and the Arab American Institute. The coalition is particularly concerned with the FBI’s new guidelines, the electronic device seizures and the collection of data at U.S. borders.
On Dec. 1, the FBI instituted new guidelines that would authorize the FBI to engage in a wide range of intrusive investigative activities without any evidence of wrongdoing. The coalition is gravely concerned with the controversial change that would allow the FBI to use a person’s race, religion or ethnic background as a factor in opening an investigation.
“For the last 8 years, our civil liberties have been under attack,” said Noel Saleh, ACCESS board member. “We’re afraid that the implementation of these FBI guidelines will only make the situation worse. This is why it’s imperative that we come together and collectively work to ensure that we uphold our core American values of civil liberties and human rights for all.”
In addition, the groups are concerned with the racial profiling, electronic seizures and the massive amounts of information that the federal government is collecting on all U.S. citizens crossing land borders. The information collected can be stored for 15 years and may be used in criminal and intelligence investigations.
In addition to launching the hotline, the coalition partners asked elected officials to:
- Exercise oversight of the FBI’s new guidelines that permit investigations to be opened on the basis on one’s race, ethnicity, religion or political activity;
- End the repeated detentions at airports of U.S. citizens re-entering the United States from the Middle East;
- Hold Congressional hearings on and pass legislation to end violations of Americans' civil and human rights at the border and the 100-mile inland zone defined by the Federal Government as part of the “external boundary.”
- Ensure equal treatment and due process for all people at the Canadian border;
- End the seizure of laptops and cell phones at the border without any suspicion of wrongdoing.