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Muniz-Muniz v. United States Border Patrol and Border Protection

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

August 24, 2017

Maria Muniz-Muniz, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
United States Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Defendant-Appellee. Ohio Immigrant Worker Project; Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

          Argued: March 16, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Toledo. No. 3:09-cv-02865-Jack Zouhary, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          John T. Murray, MURRAY & MURRAY CO., L.P.A., Sandusky, Ohio, for Appellants.

          William C. Silvis, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          John T. Murray, Leslie O. Murray, Michael Stewart, MURRAY & MURRAY CO., L.P.A., Sandusky, Ohio, Mark Heller, Eugenio Mollo, Jr., Aneel L. Chablani, ADVOCATES FOR BASIC LEGAL EQUALITY, INC., Toledo, Ohio, for Appellants.

          William C. Silvis, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Appellee.

          Before: MERRITT, KETHLEDGE, and WHITE, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judge.

         The Plaintiffs in this case-now only two organizations that represent migrant farmworkers-claim that the United States Border Patrol allows agents at its Sandusky Bay, Ohio station to target persons of Hispanic appearance for questioning. After a bench trial, the district court found that the Plaintiffs had not proved their claim. We affirm.

         I.

         The Border Patrol's mission includes enforcing the Nation's immigration laws, as well as preventing terrorism and combatting border-related crimes like human smuggling and sex trafficking. The agency's Sandusky Bay Station lies near Lake Erie, about an hour west of Cleveland. Agents from Sandusky Bay patrol a roughly 30-mile swath of land along 150 miles of the Ohio shoreline of Lake Erie, including Interstates 80 and 90 and the rest areas there. In the course of their duties, agents often initiate consensual conversations with people they encounter. Sometimes those conversations lead to information that gives an agent probable cause to think that a person is present in the United States illegally, in which case the person is arrested. The Station records all arrests in an "apprehension log, " which includes information about each arrestee's nationality and specifies whether the Border Patrol or some other law-enforcement agency originally approached or stopped the person.

         The Plaintiff organizations-the Ohio Immigrant Worker Project and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (collectively, "Plaintiffs")-brought this lawsuit in 2009, claiming among other things that the Border Patrol's policy at its Sandusky Bay Station was to allow its agents to target persons of Hispanic appearance when deciding whom to approach during the agents' patrols. Eventually the district court held a two-week bench trial on that claim, after which it found that the Plaintiffs had not shown that ...


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