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Federal judge denies motion to dismiss ACLU suit against US Border Patrol

A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma [official website] on Monday denied [order, PDF] a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the US Border Patrol [official website] alleging that agents are routinely stopping vehicles to check the immigration status of Latinos without legal justification. The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU-WA) and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) [advocacy websites] filed the lawsuit [JURIST report] in April on behalf of three individuals who claim they were stopped and interrogated based solely on their ethnicity. In its motion to dismiss, the US government argued that the court did not have jurisdiction hear the claim because there is no private cause of action pursuant to 8 USC § 1357 [text] under which the claim was brought. In denying the motion, the judge ruled that the court has jurisdiction pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) [text], to review agency action in violation of § 1357. The denial of the motion allows the case against the US Border Patrol to move forward.

In March Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] accused the US Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] of discrimination and rights abuses [JURIST report] along the border between Mexico and the US. AI claims that discriminatory practices and harsh policies responding to immigration by US officials results in the deaths of hundreds each year, and that as many as 5,287 died crossing the border between 1998 and 2008. The report comes as a general movement has been sweeping the country toward tougher enforcement of immigration policy. The trend began with a controversial law in Arizona [JURIST news archive], and similar legislation has passed in Alabama, Georgia, Utah, South Carolina and Indiana [JURIST reports]. The US Supreme Court partially upheld [JURIST report] Arizona's law in June.

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