On the heels of Obama’s plan to expand border enforcement, New Report uncovers nearly 300 wrongful arrests by Border Patrol and almost $1 million in cash and other incentives


January 30, 2013 (New York, NY) – A new report released Families for Freedom in collaboration with New York University (NYU) Immigrant Rights Clinic entitled, “Uncovering USBP: Bonus Programs for United States Border Patrol Agents and the Arrest of Lawfully Present Individuals” reveals crucial information about the incentives and consequences of USBP practices. Using detailed new data from the USBP station in Rochester, New York and the Buffalo Sector that were obtained through a Freedom of Information lawsuit, the report reveals the existence of various incentive programs provided to Border Patrol agents in their quest to apprehend individuals of color, many of whom have legal status.  The report also documents the broad array of persons with lawful status who suffer at the hands of USBP.

The report contains the first data on U.S.. Border Patrols’ (USBP) discretionary bonus programs that include cash bonuses, vacation awards, and distribution of gift cards to border patrol agents. Data shows bonuses reached up to $2,500 a year per agent.  This program has been ramped up from a yearly budget of a few thousand dollars in 2003 to nearly $200,000 in 2011. In total, from 2003 to 2011, close to $1 million dollars were allocated for cash awards for the Buffalo Sector alone. “The bonus program is especially troubling because it lacks any articulated criteria for determining which agents receive an award, and the size of that award.” said NYU Professor Nancy Morawetz.

 The report also provides evidence that the vast majority of those wrongfully arrested were from South Asian, East Asian, African, and Caribbean backgrounds.  Initially USBP claimed they did not maintain data on wrongful arrests. However, later USBP disclosed that these arrests were being monitored on a daily basis.  “It’s unacceptable for a federal agency to lie about these records. This is a rogue agency that is terrorizing and arresting people of color in exchange for cash or a gift card to Home Depot,” said Families for Freedom Executive Director Abraham Paulos. “We have every reason to believe that these injustices are happening to people around the country.”

The report’s analysis is based on detailed documents obtained by Families for Freedom through a Freedom of Information lawsuit.  These documents provide concrete evidence of the wide array of persons of lawful status who are arrested by USBP, including tourists, persons with work or student visas, lawful permanent residents and United States citizens.  In just one program in one USBP station from 2006 to 2011 there were almost 300 documented cases of arrest and detention of persons with lawful status.  The actual number is probably far higher because USBP did not formally instruct its agents to document these arrests until June 2010. “It is time for USBP to abandon its misguided program of internal immigration enforcement” said Anna Schoenfelder, a NYU law student who co-authored the report.

This report comes at a pressing time when Congress and President Obama begin debates around Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR), which calls for the expansion of a failed and costly Border enforcement program that as this report indicates has not generated positive outcomes and in fact incentivizes and encourages the wrongful arrests of individuals of color who are legally present in the country. Families for Freedom along with groups who work on border issues will call for a national investigation on all border incentive programs and wrongful arrest records for USBP stations across the nation.

Report and upcoming events are available at Uncovering USBP

 Families for Freedom is a New York-based human rights organization by and for immigrant families facing and fighting deportation.

NYU School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic engages in direct legal representation of immigrants and community organizations in litigation and in immigrant rights campaigns.


 Contact: English: Abraham Paulos abraham@familiesforfreedom.org 773-425-6944


                Español: Esther Portillo-Gonzales esther@familiesforfreedom.org 347-585-7462


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