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Politics & Government

Protesters Rally Against Customs and Border Patrol Raids on Central New York Transit

Scott Willis

Local activists want Customs and Border Patrol out of Central New York transit.  About two dozen members and supporters of the Immigrant and Refugee Defense Network rallied in front of the Regional Transportation Center today demanding that companies deny Customs the ability to raid buses and trains for undocumented immigrants.  Attorney Herve Comeau says Customs enforces raids selectively, targeting people they think “look foreign.”

“So Customs and Border Patrol gets onto a bus, looks for brown folks, and then asks them for ID. They don’t get on and ask everyone to show their ID. It’s not happening to Polish immigrants, it’s not happening to Eastern European immigrants right now. Who’s being targeted? Brown folks.”

Comeau finds such raids have become more frequent and intense in the last year and a half, but officers often do not have warrants.  He says the Immigrant and Refugee Defense Network hears of such incidents nearly every week and that community leaders in particular are targeted.

Scott Willis
Racial Profiling plays a role in bus raids, protesters say.

“If we’re looking at what’s fundamental to this, the rhetoric coming from on high is incredibly racist, xenophobic—it doesn’t make sense. DACA beneficiaries, they came here as children, they get dragged off buses, and they’ve been an economic boon to this community.”

NYCLU Director Yusuf Abdul-Qadir says companies like Greyhound do not have to comply with Customs unless officers have a warrant. He says it’s crucial such companies exercise their Fourth Amendment right to protect their commuters from racial profiling and deportation.

“You’ve seen videos across the country where the same things have happened on Amtrak. What it does is instill a sense of fear in communities, a lack of ability to feel that you’re welcome. And there isn’t a requirement to do so, and I think problematic policies are coming down upon communities from both Washington and across the country.”

The Immigrant and Refugee Defense Network also rallied in support of DACA and the Green Light Campaign, which advocates for legislation to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for drivers’ licenses.