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CAIR report: Spike in anti-Muslim bias complaints, especially against federal agencies

Apr 24, 2018

Customs and Border Protection officers at a port of entry
Credit CPB

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says its 2017 annual civil rights report shows a spike in complaints of discrimination against Muslims - especially against federal agencies, like Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The report says incidents in which people were inappropriately targeted and harassed by CPB were the second most frequent type of abuse and constituted 13% of cases.  

"This is the first time that CBP has ranked within the top five," says the report, "and it is possible to attribute this to the unconstitutional Muslim Ban executive order."

Amy Doukoure of CAIR says part of the problem is an increase in activity by CPB in neighborhoods, rather than just at the border. In Michigan, she says agents have stopped people as far from the border as Lansing to ask them questions about a recent border entry - and that's after they were also questioned at the border.

She says CPB agents are also increasingly pulling people over for traffic stops.

"Instead of being encountered by a police officer, you could be  pulled over for a traffic citation by a Department of Homeland Security truck," says Doukoure, "given a traffic citation, and also then they may question you about your immigration status or about religion." A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson sent the following statement in response to the allegations: 

The United States has been and continues to be a welcoming nation. U.S. Customs and Border Protection not only protects U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents in the country but also wants to ensure the safety of our international travelers who come to visit, study and conduct legitimate business in our country. CBP does not discriminate on the entry of foreign nationals to the United States based on religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.  

CBP is committed to the fair, impartial and respectful treatment of all members of the public, and has memorialized its commitment to nondiscrimination in existing policies, including the February 2014 CBP Policy on Nondiscrimination in Law Enforcement Activities and all other Administered Programs.  This policy prohibits the consideration of race or ethnicity in law enforcement, investigation, and screening activities, in all but the most exceptional circumstances. CBP’s Standards of Conduct further highlights CBP’s prohibition on bias-motivated conduct and explicitly requires that “Employees will not act or fail to act on an official matter in a manner which improperly takes into consideration an individual’s race, color, age, sexual orientation, religion, sex, national origin, or disability, union membership, or union activities.”

CBP officers process more than a million travelers a day at U.S. Ports of Entry and are thoroughly trained to enforce U.S. laws and regulations fairly and uniformly

The CAIR report also says the fourth most frequent type of abuse involved incidents in which the FBI harassed or otherwise inappropriately targeted an individual.  There were 270 reported cases involving the FBI, ten percent of the total number. The FBI did not respond to a request for a statement.

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