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ACLU Responds After Officers Question Spanish-speaking People Outside Bangor Goodwill

Civil liberties advocates say they are concerned about the arrest of a man in Bangor by federal border agents last month.

According to an affidavit filed in federal court, agents stopped several people who, "appeared to be of Central-American origin" and were speaking Spanish at a Goodwill store in the city. Eventually, the affidavit says, officers arrested one of them after learning he did not have immigration documents and had arrived illegally. The affidavit doesn't list any other reasons for the stop.

"All of our rights are at risk when we don't stand up against federal agents targeting people on the basis of their race and national origin," says Emma Bond, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.

Bond says the case is similar to others she's heard, but adds: "This case is somewhat unique in that the CBP agent is admitting that he approached people based on the color of their skin, and the fact they were speaking Spanish.”

A regional spokesperson for U.S. Customers and Border Protection said he could not comment due to pending litigation. Border agents have routinely made stops throughout Maine, and are allowed to conduct checks within 100 miles of the border, which encompasses all of Maine, and they have made stops in various places, including buses.

Updated Oct. 4, 2019 5:07 p.m.