EL PASO — As thousands headed to the polls on Election Day, the ACLU of Texas and the national ACLU sent a letter today to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting an investigation into a potential Voting Rights Act violation by the U.S. Border Patrol.
The letter was sent in response to the El Paso Sector of the Border Patrol scheduling a “crowd control” exercise less than a mile from the polling location in a historically Latinx community.
“The Trump Administration must answer for its decision to plan a military-style exercise—coupled with armored vehicles and Border Patrol agents within a short walking distance from the nearest polling location,” said Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas. “The right to vote is fundamental and must be protected. The first step in doing so is through transparency as to why these intimidating actions were planned on Election Day and their ultimate impact on voters.”
Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act prohibits the intimidation of voters through words or actions. After ACLU and public outcry, U.S. Border Patrol cancelled the “crowd control” exercise shortly before it was set to begin. However the letter cites news reports of heavy armored units, horseback riders and other mobile units in the neighborhood.
“Voter intimidation has no place in our elections and is illegal. Yet the Border Patrol was planning to proceed with this intimidating crowd control exercise for no good reason on Election Day,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, staff attorney for ACLU Voting Rights Project. “We are asking that the DOJ investigate that decision, particularly in light of President Trump’s menacing tweet yesterday calling for law enforcement to aggressively monitor supposed concerns about mythical illegal voting.”