Plaintiffs, individuals who allege they were stopped and interrogated by U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Olympic Peninsula without reasonable suspicion, filed suit under the Administrative Procedures Act against the Border Patrol on April 26, 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. Claiming that the patrol officers were stopping vehicles solely due to the race/ethnicity of the occupants, Plaintiffs asserted that their Fourth Amendment rights were being violated, and that the officers were acting in excess of their authority under 8 U.S.C. §1357 and 8 C.F.R. §287.8(b)(2) (generally requiring officers to have a reasonable suspicion that an occupant of the vehicle is illegally present in the United States in order to stop the vehicle).
The Plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU of Washington and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NIRP), asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, Plaintiffs requested that patrol officers be trained on what "reasonable suspicion" entails, and that the patrol office keep complete and accurate records of officer training and testing, as well as every vehicle stop. Plaintiffs also requested a master to oversee the implementation of these policies. Class certification is still pending.
In challenging the Border Patrol's interrogations of Plaintiffs without reasonable suspicion, Plaintiffs cite Nicacio v. INS (IM-WA-0011)
, in which the court stated it was unlawful for INS to stop vehicles occupied by persons of "Hispanic appearance" without particularized reasonable suspicion based on specific articulable documented facts. 595 F. Supp. 19, 26 (E.D. Wash. 1984).
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction on July 12, 2012. Defendants asserted that Plaintiff did not have standing and that there was no private cause of action under 8 U.S.C. §1357. Judge Benjamin H. Settle of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington denied this motion on August 27, 2012, stating that Plaintiffs were likely to suffer substantial and immediate irreparable injury (further stops without reason), and that Plaintiffs properly made a claim under the APA, 5 U.S.C. § 551, which provides a private cause of action. Sanchez v. U.S. Office of Border Patrol, No. 12-5378 BHS, 2012 WL 3715719 (W.D. Wash. 2012).
The parties then began settlement negotiations, and reached a settlement in September 2013. The case was voluntarily dismissed. The settlement agreement provided:
1) Border Patrol issued a letter to the ACLU of Washington and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project acknowledging that reasonable suspicion is required for investigative stops, including near the border, and that Border Patrol is "committed to [comply] with applicable Department of Homeland Security guidance, including with respect to the use of race or ethnicity in law enforcement activities." (Oddly, the letter referenced 2004 guidance, rather than stricter 2013 guidance
2) One refresher training session for Border Patrol personnel on the Fourth Amendment.
3) Every six months for eighteen months, CBP agreed to produce to plaintiffs' counsel Field Contact Data Sheets issued by agents at the Port Angeles, Washington Station, redacted to protect personal information.Dan Osher - 03/09/2013