POLITICS

Civil rights group suing Border Patrol for records on so-called 'roving' agents

MCALLEN, TX - MAY 27:  Border Patrol agents Robert Sanchez (L) and Hugo Moya search for undocumented immigrants believed to be hiding in the area along the north shore of the Rio Grande River which forms the border between the U.S. and Mexico May 27, 2010 near McAllen, Texas. During the 2009 fiscal year, 540,865 undocumented immigrants were apprehended entering the U.S. along the Mexican border.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Hugo Moya;Robert Sanchez

MCALLEN, TX - MAY 27: Border Patrol agents Robert Sanchez (L) and Hugo Moya search for undocumented immigrants believed to be hiding in the area along the north shore of the Rio Grande River which forms the border between the U.S. and Mexico May 27, 2010 near McAllen, Texas. During the 2009 fiscal year, 540,865 undocumented immigrants were apprehended entering the U.S. along the Mexican border. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Hugo Moya;Robert Sanchez  (2010 Getty Images)

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Border Patrol's parent agency Tuesday for records on its activities away from the nation's border with Mexico.

The federal lawsuit seeks records on the agency's so-called "roving patrols" in the San Diego and El Centro sectors in Southern California. The plaintiffs say agents work a considerable distance from the border with Mexico and have reportedly stopped farm workers and residents for questioning in Fallbrook, about 70 miles north of Mexico, and Laguna Beach, nearly 90 miles north.

The complaint is the latest to question the Border Patrol's activities away from the border, whether at highway checkpoints or on roving patrols.

According to the ACLU, federal law allows the Border Patrol to make warrantless stops and seizures within a "reasonable distance" of the border. Regulations have defined that distance as 100 miles from land and sea borders, which encompasses about two-thirds of the nation's population and nine of the country's 10 largest cities.

The lawsuit names the Department of Homeland Security and its Customs and Border Protection unit, which includes the Border Patrol. It said the agencies haven't produced records requested under the Freedom of Information Act in July, including and internal guidance on roving patrols and stops made since 2011.

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CBP had no immediate comment.

The plaintiffs are the ACLU Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties and the University of California, Irvine School of Law's Immigrant Rights Clinic.

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