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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/23/17

ACLU Investigation Reveals Texas Troopers Are Turning Traffic Stops of Immigrants into Deportations

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A shocking new investigation by the ACLU of Texas and The Intercept reveals how state troopers are essentially acting as deportation officers. After poring through public records of traffic stops by the Texas Highway Patrol, the ACLU of Texas uncovered what amounts to a deportation machine operated by the state's Department of Public Safety. State troopers stop drivers for minor traffic infractions, and if they are unable to produce a driver's license, they are taken into custody and turned over to Border Patrol. Several DPSdashboard camera videos show immigrants being detained for trivial traffic violations and then carted away by Border Patrol. We speak with Debbie Nathan, investigative reporter for the ACLU of Texas.

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NERMEEN SHAIKH: We end the show in Texas, where a shocking new investigation has revealed how state troopers are essentially acting as deportation officers. After poring through public records of traffic stops by the Texas Highway Patrol, the ACLU of Texas has uncovered what amounts to a deportation machine operated by the state's Department of Public Safety, or DPS. State troopers stop drivers for minor traffic infractions, and if they are unable to produce a driver's license, they're taken into custody and turned over to Border Patrol. The Intercept, working with the ACLU of Texas, obtained several DPS dash cam videos that show immigrants being detained for trivial traffic violations and then being carted away by Border Patrol.

This is a clip from a video produced by The Intercept of dash cam video of a traffic stop, and features Debbie Nathan, investigative reporter for the ACLU of Texas, our guest today.

TEXAS STATE TROOPER: I'm at a traffic stop. Can you send a Border Patrol agent over here?

DRIVER'S WIFE: No, they're going to take him, sir! They're taking everybody!

TEXAS STATE TROOPER: Who said that?

DRIVER'S WIFE: Everybody's saying that. They're taking everyone and deporting them!

DEBBIE NATHAN: When the dash cams started coming in, I realized, "Wow! This is really a record of a deportation machine, of state troopers fishing for people on the highways and then turning them in to federal immigration officials."

DRIVER'S WIFE: [translated] Please, Jesus, please!

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we are joined by Debbie Nathan, investigative reporter for the ACLU of Texas, her report for The Intercept headlined "'They're Taking Everybody' -- Videos Show Texas Troopers Ripping Apart Immigrant Families During Traffic Stops."

Debbie, welcome to Democracy Now! I'm glad you're in New York today to explain what is happening in Texas and what you found, right where you live.

DEBBIE NATHAN: I live in Brownsville, Texas, which is right on the border, at the easternmost part of the border. It's a 1,200-mile border that goes all the way to El Paso. And for the past three years, the state of Texas has been funding, mega-funding, to the tune of like -- right now it's like $800 million a year, to have like a lot of state troopers down on the border. They're like brought in on tours. And they are empowered to stop people on the roads, as they traditionally have, doing traffic enforcement.

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