U.S. Forest Service Accused Of Discrimination Against Latinos

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
US Forest Service discriminationSeattle – The Forest Service is under fire for alleged discrimination against Latinos due to the use of Border Patrol agents as interpreters and law enforcement in stops involving Latinos on Washington state's Olympic Peninsula.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights within the USDA, which oversees the Forest Service, has ordered the agency to establish a new national policy so non-English speakers can use national forests and parks without an "escalated risk of harm," The Seattle Times reported. The USDA's decision, made public Thursday, is the result of an investigation into a complaint filed by a Latino woman in Forks.

The woman, unnamed in the report, and a man were picking salal together last year when a Forest Service officer approached and asked to see their IDs and permit to pick the ornamental leaf.

When a Border Patrol agent arrived a short time later, the two - both Latinos - ran. While the woman was quickly apprehended, the man jumped into the fast-moving Sol Duc river and drowned.

The ACLU and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project filed the lawsuit on behalf of three peninsula residents who have been stopped by Border Patrol agents.

Jorge Barón, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which filed the case on the woman's behalf, said the decision vindicates complaints made by many about discriminatory practices of the Forest Service on the Olympic Peninsula.

In April, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Border Patrol seeking to bar agents from making traffic stops, saying people are being pulled over and questioned for the way they look and without reasonable suspicion. The lawsuit stemmed from tensions between immigrants and the expanded presence of Border Patrol agents on the Olympic Peninsula, which shares no land border with Canada.

The ACLU and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project filed the lawsuit on behalf of three peninsula residents who have been stopped by Border Patrol agents.

Border Patrol spokesman Richard Sinks said at the time that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection "strictly prohibits" profiling on the basis of race or religion.

The Thursday USDA decision said discrimination is heightened by the Forest Service's use of Border Patrol agents as interpreters but can be mitigated by "well-designed practices and policies."

The Forest Service, the decision said, "has no specific policy regarding the use of Border Patrol as a backup to provide guidance or safeguard against discrimination."

The decision requires the Forest Service to post in its offices throughout the Olympic National Forest a notice acknowledging that it violated nondiscrimination laws and providing directions for how those who believe they have faced discrimination may file a complaint.


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dneil55859

So because they ran from officers and one was stupid enough to jump in a river trying to get away and drowned the forest service officers are restricted in what they can do? The officer had every justification to ask for their permit because they could not speak English he needed someone to translate. What happened after that is entirely the fault of the woman and her freind. If they were here legally why did they run?

June 05 2012 at 12:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dtmatcri

What crap - why don't these aholes speak English?? If you don't speak the primary language of the country you live then you are either just lazy or ignorant.

June 04 2012 at 11:10 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
arnie

What ever happened to the best guy gets the job

June 04 2012 at 10:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
wrwck

This is no more discriminatory than me being asked for my burn permit and my ID in my own backyard. We all live in a police state so get used to it, whatever your race.

June 04 2012 at 10:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
exoticdoc2

Sounds like they were illegals, and on top of it no permit for what they were doing. They paid the price for being criminals and brought it all on themselves. Those who move here legally need to learn to speak the language, assimilate into American society, and obey the laws of the land. LEGAL immigrants have rights. ILLEGAL ones have none.

June 04 2012 at 8:34 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Mayhem

I believe in conspiracy against minorities as much as anybody but this is ridiculous. Quit picking crap out of the National Park and if you decide to and have done nothing wrong, stop running. Please let there be more to this stupid story.

June 04 2012 at 8:10 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Mayhem's comment
Trudy405

I totally agree....

June 04 2012 at 8:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
vayon

the problem is that so many have ben mistreated even when they are legal, it's hard not to duck

June 04 2012 at 10:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joey

ACLU - American Communist Liberals Union - PRICELESS

June 04 2012 at 7:59 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
robthebl0gger7

Let's just give all the illegals dual citizenship. Face it, we'll never solve the problem as long as there are lawyers and the aclu. They won; we lost.

June 04 2012 at 7:50 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
sirbosk1

I'm ashamed I used to send money to the ACLU.

June 04 2012 at 7:47 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
sirbosk1

It's time we profiled and started catching these invaders. I am kicking myself in the ass for sending money to the Scum at the ACLU when I was younger. Instead of helping to protect our borders from invaders, the SOBs are helping them Treasonous bastards that they are. I hope the fool that jumped into the river and died, was an invader and not an idiot legal foreign visitor.

June 04 2012 at 7:01 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

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