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Border Patrol Settles With Two Men Over Racial Profiling, Unlawful Detainment Claims

Hikki Nagasaki - Public Domain

The U.S. Border Patrol has settled with two men who sued the agency for racial profiling and unlawful detainment, after they were detained in separate incidents at the Intermodal Center in Spokane.Andres Sosa Segura and Mohanad Elshieky were detained in 2017, and 2019 while trying to transfer Greyhound buses. They were represented b the ACLU and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

Each man will receive $35,000 and the settlement did not include an admission of fault. 

Aaron Korhuis , a Northwest Immigrant Rights Project Attorney who was involved in the case, said he hopes the settlement will deter the agency from bus checks and racial profiling.

“It is something that evokes a lot to fear in people, especially people of color as Mr. Sosa’s and Mr. Elshieky’s cases demonstrate, they are frequently the targets of Border Patrol's activity that often crosses the boundary into unlawful activity.”

According to a news release, Sosa was trying to get home to Montana and was in pending immigration proceedings when he was confronted by Customs and Border Patrol Agents in 2017. They demanded to see his papers and Sosa invoked his right to an attorney. He was arrested, interrogated and held for several hours. 

“The hours I spent detained for no reason were terrifying, and all I wanted was to be with my family,” said Sosa according to the press release. “I hope nobody ever has to go through something like this again. I hope that this case sends a message that CBP agents need to respect the rights of people like me.”

Elshieky, who is a comedian and an asylee from Libya, was returning home to Portland when agents ordered him off a Greyhound Bus during a layover In Spokane in 2019.

Agents accused him of carrying fake documents and detained him.

“To have the same government that is supposed to protect me accuse me of lying and being here illegally really shook me and undermined my hard-fought sense of safety,” said. Elshieky, according to the press release. “I’ll never forget the harassment and humiliation by the officers when it was clear I belonged in the United States and on that bus. I hope my experience can at least be a wake-up call for others, and a lesson for CBP and its agents to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and to honor their rights.”

Border Patrol in the past has argued that the Intermodal Center is within 100 miles of the border, therefore a port of entry where they can board and search buses.

Korthuis noted that Border Patrol activity at the Intermodal Center has lessened during the pandemic. He hopes the settlement will incentivize the agency to stop the practice altogether.

“They can’t treat the Intermodal Center as a port of entry like at the border, where they can simply ask folks, and detain them without any reason to do that. The Constitution applies there as it does anywhere else in the interior of the United States and they have to respect folks' rights.”

The Spokane Customs and Border Patrol Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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