USDA: Using Border Patrol as translators is discriminatory


Forks Forum staff

Using Border Patrol agents as translators is discriminatory against Hispanics stopped by National Forest agents on the Olympic Peninsula, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) civil rights office has ruled.


News of the announcement of the recent ruling was released Thursday, May 31, by the Seattle-based Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP).


Use of the Border Patrol as law-enforcement support in routine matters also is wrong, the ruling states.


“The USDA’S Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, known as OASCR, also ordered the Forest Service to make significant policy changes at the national level to remedy its discriminatory policies and practices,” the news release states.


“In addition, the office directed that additional steps be taken at the Olympic National Forest offices in Washington State.”


The ruling was in response to a complaint filed by the NWIRP on behalf of the woman who was stopped for a check in 2011 about 20 miles east of Forks along a Sol Duc River bridge with Benjamin Roldan Salinas.


Salinas, an illegal immigrant and forest worker, who had a crop of salal in his possession, fled from Border Patrol agents who were called to the scene by Forest Service law enforcement agents.


Salinas reportedly jumped into the Sol Duc River fleeing the scene. After weeks of searching, his body was found on June 4, 2011, in a root wad located in the river downstream.


More recently, a lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and NWIRP aimed at barring Border Patrol agents from making traffic stops on the Olympic Peninsula. 


The suit claims that drivers and passengers are being pulled over and then questioned without reasonable suspicion based on what they look like.


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