Arrest logs cited as evidence of patrol bias

June 19, 2015


Arrest logs cited as evidence of patrol bias

Trial claims agents profiled Hispanics


Hispanics are over-represented in the apprehension logs kept by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, according to expert testimony given Thursday in the federal trial to determine if Border Patrol agents are targeting Hispanics at the Sandusky Bay station.

On the third day of testimony, attorneys for the organizational plaintiffs, Farm Labor Organizing Committee and the Immigrant Worker Project, attempted to show bias through apprehension statistics.

A significant portion of Thursday’s testimony was from Kara Joyner, a professor of statistics and demography at Bowling Green State University, who was called by the plaintiffs. 

She testified about two reports she conducted that analyzed the representation of Hispanics in Border Patrol apprehension logs.

She used logs from the Sandusky Bay station in Port Clinton documenting more than 2,800 apprehensions from March, 2009, to June, 2014, and compared them with demographic data from the U.S. Census and data from the Pew Research Center.

She used benchmark data, including estimates of the unauthorized resident population and the foreign-born population within the Border Patrol’s jurisdiction to compare the rate Hispanics appear on the log with the overall population composition.

She testified that 69 percent of those in the logs were identified as Mexican, whereas 34 percent of the unauthorized population in Ohio — those deemed “at risk” to be apprehended by agents — is Mexican, she said.

Mexicans have twice the representation in the log than what would be expected based on their representation in the unauthorized population in Ohio, she said. The odds of reaching that level of representation without agents using ethnicity as a factor in apprehensions was “less than one in 1,000,” Ms. Joyner said.

She concluded that Sandusky Bay agents “targeted individuals for stops on the basis of Hispanic appearance.”

Defense attorneys questioned how she could determine appearance from a nationality listed in a log. The defense also questioned how stops initiated by outside law enforcement agencies and then taken over by Border Patrol could show bias by the Border Patrol, to which Ms. Joyner said she found high percentages of stops regardless of which agency initiated the stop.

Ms. Joyner referred several times to the federal investigation of Ferguson Police Department conducted by the Department of Justice, the same department that is representing the Border Patrol in this profiling trial. The Ferguson report determined that African-Americans were over-represented in the criminal justice system, and Ms. Joyner used the report to explain her findings and process.

Next week the defense will call its own expert witness, Brian Withrow, a professor of criminal justice at Texas State University, who is expected to give a critical analysis of Ms. Joyner’s findings. Ms. Joyner is expected to return for additional testimony at that time. The trial continues today, with Judge Jack Zouhary presiding.

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