Today, there is broad reason to be concerned that ICE and CBP may be engaging in racial profiling in Washington state—and that local and state government agencies, in their efforts to collaborate with federal law enforcement, are aiding in this discrimination. While local law enforcement lacks the legal authority to enforce immigration law—there are no 287(g) partnerships in the state—our research has shown that police sometimes notify ICE or CBP about the mere presence of latinx people in their communities. What’s more, we discovered that some local law enforcement agencies rely on policy manuals that permit the use of race or language as a basis for detaining an individual on “reasonable suspicion” that s/he entered the country illegally.
Federal immigration enforcement agencies are frequently accused of selectively targeting certain individuals for enforcement activity on the basis of their their physical appearance, skin color, or language fluency. When carried out by regular law enforcement, such practices have been found to be violations of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment (which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures) and/or Fourteenth Amendment (guaranteeing equal protection of the laws). Yet federal immigration enforcement has been held to a lower standard, and even in cases where courts have found that ICE or CBP engaged in racial profiling, it was deemed insufficient to stop the deportation of those racially profiled.
Concerned that such practices violate the U.S. Constitution and international human rights standards, we are continuing our effort to document cases where they occur and identify patterns that could be corrected through improved policy. Everyone should be treated equally under the law.