U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced new legislation on Friday that would establish a formal record keeping process for all stops and searches.
Gillibrand said there is no existing required record-keeping process for officers making a patrol stop or inspection, except in cases of arrest or use of force by an officer. She also noted that border patrol agents have broad authority to question anyone within 100 miles of a U.S. land or coastal border about their immigration status, and that covers most of the population of the United States.
Furthermore, Gillibrand says border patrol agents routinely question passengers on Amtrak and passenger buses about their immigration status without having to keep a formal record of the majority of these stops.
"Keeping our country safe cannot come at a cost to basic human rights. When border patrol agents stop and question people in New York and in many places across the country, they aren't keeping data about why they targeted a particular person or what happened during their encounter," said Senator Gillibrand. "Congress has a responsibility to make sure our border patrol agencies are transparent and accountable, just like every law enforcement agency in our country should be. I am proud to introduce the Department of Homeland Security Accountability and Transparency Act, which would require that our border patrol agencies start collecting detailed records about every stop they make, so we can ensure that our agents are serving the public as effectively as possible and that no one's rights are being violated."
Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security Accountability and Transparency Act would do the following:
- Require any officer or agent of CBP or ICE, and any other state or local law enforcement official enforcing U.S. immigration laws, to collect data when a patrol stop, secondary inspection, or search occurs at a non-international port of entry checkpoint.
- Require the data collected during these stops to consist of a number of key points, including identifying characteristics of the individual; the date, time, location, and duration of the stop; the basis for the stop; whether or not a search was conducted or force was used; if an arrest was made; and the badge number of any law enforcement officer present.
- Require CBP to collect data on the number of permanent and temporary checkpoints utilized by officers of CBP, including the location of and description of other law enforcement agencies or resources utilized at each checkpoint.
- Require DHS to compile and submit in a report all data collected by law enforcement officials to Congress. This report must also be made available to the public.
This legislation is cosponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). record-keeping process would require accountability and transparency within Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
This legislation is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Immigration Coalition, the National Immigration Forum, the Southern Border Coalition, the Asian American Federation, Make the Road New York, and the Niskanen Center.