Does the Federal Employee Appeals Process Inhibit an Effective, Efficient Government?





While the CSRA certainly changed the appeals process by creating agencies such as the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the new law didn't do much for simplifying or speeding up the process of appeals available to federal employees.

In theory, one appeal will suffice for one action. For example, a federal employee who is fired would be able to appeal the action through the negotiated grievance procedure and to arbitration, assuming the employee being fired is in a bargaining unit and the union is willing to take the case to arbitration. The disadvantage for the union is that in many cases the cost of arbitration may be prohibitive and the union may not want to take a case because it could be expensive.

An employee could also file an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). It is free in the sense that neither the employee nor the agency will pay the cost of the appeal. The MSPB is supported by taxpayer dollars and its staff, offices, etc. are available to handle appeals such as those from a federal employee who is fired.

Depending on the circumstances, an employee could also file an appeal with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). For example, if the employee being fired was active in the union or filed a number of unfair labor practices or had engaged in some legitimate union activity, he may contend the agency is getting rid of him for exercising his right to form or assist a union.

And, as most readers know, virtually anyone working for the government today can file an equal employment opportunity complaint (EEO) for some reason whether the reason is based on factors such as age, religion, color, race, or ethnic origin.

It is also possible our hypothetical fed being fired has been a whistleblower in the recent past and he may also choose to contend that he is being fired for having saved the agency and the taxpayer a boatload of money which the agency was squandering on illegal or improper projects or objects. This would also open a potential avenue of appeal with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).

Keep in mind that these various avenues of appeal are not just a one shot deal. That is, an original decision can usually be appealed to a higher level. In each instance, the case may go from the original hearing officer or arbitrator or admnistrative judge to the next higher level and possibly to court or some other level of review.

In effect, it is possible for a person who understands the system, has a lot of time and energy (or is just really mad) and has a very bright lawyer/union representative, to ensure that all avenues of appeal will not be exhausted for months or years.

The appeals process takes a lot of time, a lot of money and a thick skin. A supervisor who embarks on this process may find he or she spends more time working with agency representatives outlining the facts, preparing for hearings, testifying in hearings, or defending his or her actions up and down the agency chain of command. And, if the representative is good and wants to create a better settlement scenario, it is possible the supervisor will be mentioned in the local press in some unflattering way as being involved in the firing of an employee who will be portrayed as a local hero fighting for truth and justice.

Depending on the agency's level of frustration, it may decide that trying to fire an employee (even one who really should be fired) just isn't worth it. It may transfer the employee, put him in a job where he can't be seen or heard or cause as many problems, or try to make his work life miserable enough so he will resign and forego any right of appeal.

In the meantime, while this process is being played out, the morale and effectiveness of the organization where the employee works may be spiraling down. Anger, frustration, tension, and a sense of inability to control the situation will frustrate everyone indirectly concerned with the case.

And, keep in mind, from the agency's perspective, it can win every appeal except one and the employee who was fired may be back on the agency's payroll from winning that one appeal.

From a taxpayers standpoint, this process does not seem to contribute to an effective, efficient government. In some cities with a substantial federal presence, one can stand downtown and see separate offices for the FLRA, MSPB, EEOC and OPM and, possibly, the OSC since some employees are apparently being shipped out of Washington, DC.

No doubt the federal government is a gargantuan operation. Some will argue that an organization that spends as much as Uncle Sam spends each year can afford to have several separate agencies handling different complex appeals processes for federal employees at a cost of $50-$100 million a year in order to maintain the expertise necessary to handle these appeals with their complicated rules and procedures.

A reasonable guess is that the Bush Administration has decided that the current appeals process is expensive, inefficient and ensures some people remain on the federal payroll who do not deserve to be there. And, rather than just creating one appeals board to handle all federal appeals, a more radical approach is about to descend on the executive branch.

It is too early to know how the final structure will look in the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. There is little doubt that one goal of this administration, as it was with the Carter administration back in 1978, is to create an appeals process that will be quicker, faster and more efficient. Jimmy Carter enlisted the support of the American Federation of Government Employees and went around the country with AFGE's National President touting the advantages of the new law. Since the 1970's, federal employee unions have gone out of their way to portray most Republicans as political enemies and President Bush has not displayed President Carter's personal interest in reforming the civil service. The federal employee unions are now paying the price for their approach to playing politics at the national level. Without a doubt, the Bush administration has taken a much different approach with regard to the unions than the Carter administration took as the CSRA guaranteed stronger unions that are virtually impossible to remove from power once selected by a majority of employees voting in an election. The Bush approach will strip away much of that power gained by the unions 25 years ago.

The Carter approach failed in creating as it did not create an appeals system that is simpler, faster or more efficient. The CSRA approach seemed radical at the time much as the new changes in the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense seem radical now.

No one knows if the Bush approach will be more successful. One thing is certain, however. Any new system will create considerable litigation designed to modify or tear down the new structure. The ultimate winner may be the lawyers who get paid to challenge and litigate the new process.

http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/newjersey/ny-bc-nj--monmouthsmood0511may11,0,6170948.story?coll=ny-region-apnewjersey

At vulnerable New Jersey Army base, a palpable sense of dread
By JOHN CURRAN
Associated Press Writer

May 11, 2005, 12:24 PM EDT

EATONTOWN, N.J. -- Around here, they've taken to calling it "BRAC Friday."

That's BRAC, as in Base Realignment and Closure commission, the federal panel that decides whether the U.S. Army finally calls it quits on Fort Monmouth.

And Friday, as in the day when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reveals his recommendations for closing or downsizing dozens of U.S. military bases.

In the offices on the post, the stores off the post and in surrounding communities, there is a palpable sense of dread, a gnawing feeling that Fort Monmouth _ which has dodged this bullet before _ won't be as lucky this time around.

"Everybody's on pins and needles awaiting the announcement," said John Poitras, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1904, which represents 3,000 civilian workers on the post. "I've talked to many employees, they're all scared. They're shaking. They know this base is vulnerable."

Founded in 1917 and later adopted as the home of the Army's Signal Corps, Fort Monmouth today is a small, bustling community whose diverse tenants include Army research-and-development agencies, an FBI information technology center, a prep school for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a military police detachment, an explosives-handling company and other agencies.

Set on 1,126 tree-lined acres that look more like a college campus than a traditional army base, it employs about 6,000 people _ most of them civilians.

Targeted for closing twice before, the base has remained open, its $478 million annual payroll providing an economic boon to neighboring communities, where businesses share in $864 million in contracts awarded by the base's agencies and organizations.

But defense experts say the post, which has lost some jobs following previous commission announcements but maintained its core functions, could be targeted again. And employees are nervous.

"I've been praying, 'Don't close!' Everybody is," said Margie Corbin, 42, an executive secretary at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School and former employee at CECOM, the Army's lead agency for communications and electronics research and development.

"My friends at CECOM, they say: 'What am I going to do?' 'I've got a mortgage.' 'How will I find a new job?' It's going to be really hard, especially if you just bought a house, like a couple of my friends did," she said.

Corbin, of Neptune, is married to an Asbury Park police officer and has three children, the oldest 17 and about to go to college. She tries not to think about what she'll do if the base closes.

"I'd go back to school and start looking for a part-time job, to put food on the table," she said.

Willie Sanders, 55, of Long Branch, who has worked as a civilian contractor on post since 1976, said he feels helpless worrying.

"So far, everybody's taking it in stride," he said Tuesday over a sausage and cheese sub at Siino's Pizzeria, just down Route 35 from the front gate. "There's not much we can do about it anyway. Everybody wants to keep their jobs, and I need my job. I've got to pay my mortgage."

Siino's, a popular lunch spot within walking distance of the front gate, gets about 40 percent of its weekday business from the base, said owner Sam Siino.

"I just hope it doesn't close," he said. "It would cut us back and it would take time to build it up again," he said of his business.

At other businesses along Route 35, which runs in front of the base, the feeling is the same.

"That would be bad news," said Adam Johnson, owner of Lube It All, which does a brisk business in oil changes with Fort Monmouth soldiers and employees. "That would be bad news," he said. "I do 10, 15 cars a day from there. I'd lose $200 or $300 a day."

Eatontown Mayor Gerry Tarantolo frets about the effect a closing would have on businesses, Fort Monmouth retirees and on schools. About 650 base employees live in Eatontown, and 230 children of soldiers attend its schools.

Then there's the retirees and dependents _ about 30,300 by the base's count _ in the communities around the base, many of whom use its health clinic, the base commissary and the post exchange.

"I try to be positive in my thinking," Tarantolo said. "The fact is that Fort Monmouth's main function is CECOM and that's playing a big role in our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. All the gee-whiz stuff being deployed is being developed at Fort Monmouth. That's one factor in our favor."

On the post, there's no visible sign of impending doom, no "Save Our Fort" placards or billboards, no active campaign. When you work for Uncle Sam, you can't wear your heart on your sleeve.

Members of the military are not allowed to lobby against changes at the fort, or to join organizations with that goal, said base spokesman Timothy Rider.

But two congressmen _ U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone and Rush Holt _ co-chair an organization called the "Save Our Fort Committee," which is lobbying to make Fort Monmouth's case as a base worth saving.

Whether Fort Monmouth is targeted or not, they plan to host a forum Friday outlining plans for a six-month crusade aimed either at removing it from the list or making sure it isn't added at a later time, to compensate if some other base on the list wins a reprieve.

"There's less reason to close Fort Monmouth than there ever was," said Pallone, D-N.J. "We weren't in the middle of a war on the previous occasions, and now we are. Fort Monmouth is so involved in the communications and electronics functions in the war that I think it's indispensable to the war effort."

http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0505/051105k1.htm

Park Service memo sparks concern over job competitions
By Kimberly Palmer
kpalmer@govexec.com
A memo on National Park Service job competitions set off a brief firestorm after a watchdog group interpreted the document as meaning that entire parks could be outsourced to private contractors.
In an April 15 memo, NPS director Fran Mainella wrote that jobs at the Boston National Historical Park, the San Juan (Puerto Rico) National Historical Park and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Park were being considered for job competitions. "We will be reviewing whole parks to achieve the most efficient operations possible," she said.
Tuesday, the Washington-based advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility sent out a statement saying, "We have now reached the point where Disney or Bally's Resorts can bid on entire national park operations with almost no public debate on whether that is appropriate."
NPS was quick to refute that interpretation. "We are definitely not, nor are we going to be, doing any kind of competitive sourcing for an entire park--that's just not going to happen," said Elaine Sevy, NPS spokeswoman.
She acknowledged, however, that the memo was "very vague and confusing when it talks about these three parks."
The notice gave employees an overview of NPS' competitive sourcing plans, and said the agency has saved $3.1 million annually as a result of competitive sourcing over the last three years. NPS is part of the Interior Department, which recently received its first top grade for competitive sourcing on the President's Management Agenda score card.
Sevy said NPS will look at the three parks mentioned and work with senior managers to determine which jobs are eligible for contractors to bid on. She said the service would only consider "commercial" positions, which include maintenance and administrative jobs. Superintendents and rangers are considered inherently governmental and as a result could not be contracted out to the private sector, she said.
In some cases, she added, even maintenance jobs are protected. At one park in Puerto Rico, for example, employees have learned to care for walls just as Spanish colonists did in the 17th century, and that kind of expertise needs to stay within the ranks of park employees, she said.
She added that private contractors have always occupied about 56 percent of park positions, including concession stands.
PEER executive director Jeff Ruch said that if NPS is not planning on outsourcing entire parks, the memo should have been more specific. "You would think if you were talking with people about their jobs, you would talk with a little more care," he said. "Using the term 'whole park' very strongly gives the suggestion that they're looking at every job in the park."
The American Federation of Government Employees also criticized what they saw as an attempt to convert federal jobs to the private sector. "The National Park Service is again about to divert staff and resources from maintenance of our national parks due to [the Office of Management and Budget's] sledgehammer privatization agenda," said Diana Price, procurement specialist for AFGE.

http://www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=22&sid=258942

PERFORMANCE PAY PROTEST
The American Federation of Government Employees is planning a noontime rally today to protest what it says are Department of Homeland Security plans to strip whistleblower protections for employees. AFGE says the changes are part of the proposed new performance pay plan. The rally is set for the Ronald Reagan Building's 14th street N.W. entrance.

http://www.bergen.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjczN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXkzJmZnYmVsN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk2NjkyNzAxJnlyaXJ5N2Y3MTdmN3ZxZWVFRXl5Mg==

Fort Monmouth under attack
Thursday, May 12, 2005

By JOHN CURRAN
ASSOCIATED PRESS


EATONTOWN - Around here, they've taken to calling it "BRAC Friday."
That's BRAC, as in Base Realignment and Closure commission, the federal panel that decides whether the U.S. Army finally calls it quits on Fort Monmouth.
And Friday, as in the day when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reveals his recommendations for closing or downsizing dozens of U.S. military bases.
In the offices on the post, the stores off the post and in surrounding communities, there is a palpable sense of dread, a gnawing feeling that Fort Monmouth - which has dodged this bullet before - won't be as lucky this time around.
"Everybody's on pins and needles awaiting the announcement," said John Poitras, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1904, which represents 3,000 civilian workers on the post. "I've talked to many employees, they're all scared. They're shaking. They know this base is vulnerable."
Founded in 1917 and later adopted as the home of the Army's Signal Corps, Fort Monmouth today is a small, bustling community whose diverse tenants include Army research-and-development agencies, an FBI information technology center, a prep school for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a military police detachment, an explosives-handling company and other agencies.
Set on 1,126 tree-lined acres that look more like a college campus than a traditional army base, it employs about 6,000 people - most of them civilians.
Targeted for closing twice before, the base has remained open, its $478 million annual payroll providing an economic boon to neighboring communities, where businesses share in $864 million in contracts awarded by the base's agencies and organizations.
But defense experts say the post, which has lost some jobs following previous commission announcements but maintained its core functions, could be targeted again. And employees are nervous.
"I've been praying, 'Don't close!' Everybody is," said Margie Corbin, 42, an executive secretary at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School and former employee at CECOM, the Army's lead agency for communications and electronics research and development.
"My friends at CECOM, they say: 'What am I going to do?' 'I've got a mortgage.' 'How will I find a new job?' It's going to be really hard, especially if you just bought a house, like a couple of my friends did," she said.
Willie Sanders, 55, of Long Branch, who has worked as a civilian contractor on post since 1976, said he feels helpless worrying.
"So far, everybody's taking it in stride," he said over a sausage and cheese sub at Siino's Pizzeria, just down Route 35. "There's not much we can do about it anyway. Everybody wants to keep their jobs, and I need my job. I've got to pay my mortgage."
Siino's, a popular lunch spot within walking distance of the front gate, gets about 40 percent of its weekday business from the base, said owner Sam Siino.
"I just hope it doesn't close," he said. "It would cut us back and it would take time to build it up again," he said of his business.
At other businesses along Route 35, which runs in front of the base, the feeling is the same.
"That would be bad news," said Adam Johnson, owner of Lube It All, which does a brisk business in oil changes with Fort Monmouth soldiers and employees. "That would be bad news," he said. "I do 10, 15 cars a day from there. I'd lose $200 or $300 a day."
Eatontown Mayor Gerry Tarantolo frets about the effect a closing would have on businesses, Fort Monmouth retirees and on schools. About 650 base employees live in Eatontown, and 230 children of soldiers attend its schools.
Then there's the retirees and dependents - about 30,300 by the base's count - in the communities around the base, many of whom use its health clinic, the base commissary and the post exchange.
"I try to be positive in my thinking," Tarantolo said. "The fact is that Fort Monmouth's main function is CECOM and that's playing a big role in our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. All the gee-whiz stuff being deployed is being developed at Fort Monmouth. That's one factor in our favor."

http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/11623793.htm

Waiting for Pentagon hammer to fall

By John Curran
Associated Press
EATONTOWN, N.J. - Around here, they have taken to calling it "BRAC Friday."
That's BRAC, as in Base Realignment and Closure commission, the federal panel that decides whether the Army finally calls it quits on Fort Monmouth.
And Friday - tomorrow - as in the day when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reveals his recommendations for closing and downsizing dozens of U.S. military bases.
In the offices on the Army post, the stores off the post, and in surrounding communities, there is a palpable sense of dread, a gnawing feeling that Fort Monmouth, which has dodged this bullet before, won't be as lucky this time around.
"Everybody's on pins and needles awaiting the announcement," said John Poitras, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1904, which represents 3,000 civilian workers on the post in Monmouth County. "I've talked to many employees; they're all scared. They're shaking. They know this base is vulnerable."
Founded in 1917 and later adopted as the home of the Army's Signal Corps, Fort Monmouth today is a small, bustling community whose diverse tenants include Army research-and-development agencies, an FBI information technology center, a prep school for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a military police detachment, an explosives-handling company, and other agencies.
Set on 1,126 tree-lined acres and resembling a college campus more than a traditional military base, it employs about 6,000 people, most of them civilians.
Targeted for closing twice before, the base has remained open, its $478 million annual payroll providing an economic boon to neighboring communities, where businesses share in $864 million in contracts awarded by the base's agencies and organizations.
But defense experts say the post, which has lost some jobs after previous commission announcements but maintained its core functions, could be targeted again.
"I've been praying, 'Don't close!' Everybody is," said Margie Corbin, 42, an executive secretary at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School and former employee at CECOM, the Army's lead agency for communications and electronics research and development.
"My friends at CECOM, they say: 'What am I going to do?' 'I've got a mortgage.' 'How will I find a new job?' It's going to be really hard, especially if you just bought a house, like a couple of my friends did," she said.
Willie Sanders, 55, of Long Branch, who has worked as a civilian contractor on the post since 1976, said he feels helpless worrying.
"There's not much we can do about it anyway," Sanders said. "Everybody wants to keep their jobs, and I need my job. I've got to pay my mortgage."
Siino's, a popular lunch spot within walking distance of the front gate, gets about 40 percent of its weekday business from the base, said owner Sam Siino.
"I just hope it doesn't close," he said. "It would cut us back and it would take time to build it up again," he said of his business.
At other businesses along Route 35, which runs in front of the base, the feeling is the same.
"That would be bad news," said Adam Johnson, owner of Lube It All, which does a brisk business in oil changes with Fort Monmouth soldiers and employees. "I do 10, 15 cars a day from there. I'd lose $200 or $300 a day."
Eatontown Mayor Gerry Tarantolo frets about the effect a closing would have on businesses, Fort Monmouth retirees, and on schools. About 650 base employees live in Eatontown, and 230 children of soldiers attend its schools.
Then there are the retirees and dependents - about 30,300 by the base's count - in the communities around the base, many of whom use its health clinic, the base commissary, and the post exchange.
"I try to be positive in my thinking," Tarantolo said. "The fact is that Fort Monmouth's main function is CECOM, and that's playing a big role in our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. All the gee-whiz stuff being deployed is being developed at Fort Monmouth. That's one factor in our favor."

http://www.sbsun.com/Stories/0,1413,208~12588~2864930,00.html

San Bernardino County Sun

ACLU scrutinizing Border Patrol arrest documents
By Brenda Gazzar
Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - The American Civil Liberties Union is reviewing several hundred Border Patrol records from last June's arrests of undocumented residents in inland areas including Ontario and Corona.
The first of three batches was received in mid-April, about nine months after the group's first request for information and four months after it sued the government to get the records.
The documents include forms by arresting agents detailing how, where and when persons were apprehended, their country of origin and how quickly they were processed.
"We're very pleased that the government finally handed over these documents,' said ACLU staff attorney Ranjana Natarajan. "We're reviewing the documents as fast as possible, and we are keeping an eye out for any issues related to constitutional rights or immigrants rights issues that come up.'
The ACLU is expecting two more batches of documents by the end of the month and plans to release them once its analysis is complete.
Border Patrol spokesmen in Washington, D.C., did not return calls Wednesday, but a union representative said the documents would not reveal any Border Patrol missteps.
"They will try to make the case that Border Patrol engaged in racial profiling or some wrongdoing, but they are really grasping at straws here,' said T. J. Bonner, spokesman of the National Border Patrol Council.
Last June, the Temecula Station's 12-member mobile patrol group arrested more than 400 people on the streets of cities in San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.
Such arrests, dubbed "sweeps' by the community, stopped after the former undersecretary of border and transportation security said the group acted within its legal authority but without prior approval from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Headquarters.
The Border Patrol documents reveal that people were processed for arrests and agreed in writing to return to their home country in less than one hour, Natarajan said. Some appear to have been processed in 10 or 15 minutes, and the vast majority of the nearly 400 people arrested between June 2 and June 15 were voluntarily deported, she said.
"I think it's very hard to believe that people were really apprised of their rights in such a short time,' Natarajan said, who is still analyzing the documents.
But Bonner said it takes less than a minute to read a person their statement of rights. Most opt for a voluntary return rather than a deportation hearing, which could result in a prohibition to re-enter the country for several years, he said.
"It's not like these people have the right to be here,' Bonner said. "They enter the country illegally, and they understand that.'
Arrests were made far from the border in cities such as Fontana, Upland and Temecula and even in Kern County, Natarajan said.
People were approached at bus stops, grocery stores and street intersections, she said. In at least one case, a driver of a vehicle they stopped was a U.S. citizen, she said.
Rep. Joe Baca, D-Rialto, said he is most interested in seeing what methods were used in stopping and questioning people. Thousands reportedly were questioned, raising "serious questions about the Border Patrol's methods and whether or not racial profiling occurred,' he said in a written statement.
A number of factors are taken into account when targeting people, including nervousness and the way one is dressed, officials say.
"The accumulation of all those factors lead them to question a person,' Bonner said, adding that people are not targeted based on the color of their skin. "Sometimes suspicion doesn't pan out, but more often than not, it does.'
Some records suggest agents believed someone could be undocumented because they spoke Spanish, Natarajan said. If that's the only basis, then that's "not good law enforcement.'
Bonner argued that someone's inability to speak English is one factor that can be used in the equation, but cannot be the only factor since it does not prove whether someone is illegal.
"It raises legitimate questions about why they don't speak English,' he said.

http://www.dailybulletin.com/Stories/0,1413,203~21481~2864836,00.html

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Border sweep records get deeper look by ACLU
Review of sweep a stretch, patrol says
By Brenda Gazzar
Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - The American Civil Liberties Union is reviewing several hundred Border Patrol records from last June's arrests of undocumented residents in inland areas including Ontario and Corona.
The Border Patrol documents reveal that in less than an hour, people were processed for arrests and agreed in writing to return to their home countries, ACLU attorney Ranjana Natarajan said. Some appear to have been processed in 15 minutes, and the vast majority of the nearly 400 people arrested between June 2 and June 15 were voluntarily deported, she said.
"I think it's very hard to believe that people were really apprised of their rights in such a short time," said Natarajan, who is still analyzing the documents.
But T.J. Bonner, union president of National Border Patrol Council, said it takes less than a minute to read a person their statement of rights. Most apprehended illegal immigrants opt for a voluntary return rather than a deportation hearing, which could result in them being barred from returning to the country for several years, he said.
"It's not like these people have the right to be here," Bonner said. "They enter the country illegally, and they understand that."
The first of three batches of records was received in mid-April, about nine months after the ACLU's first request for information and four months after it sued the government to get the records.
The documents include forms by arresting agents detailing how, where and when people were apprehended, how quickly they were processed, and the arrestees' countries of origin.
"We're very pleased that the government finally handed over these documents," Natarajan said. "We're reviewing the documents as fast as possible, and we are keeping an eye out for any issues related to constitutional rights or immigrants' rights issues that come up."
The ACLU is expecting two more sets of documents by the end of the month and plans to release them once its analysis is complete.
Border Patrol personnel in Washington, D.C., did not return calls Wednesday, but Bonner said the documents would not reveal any Border Patrol missteps.
"They will try to make the case that Border Patrol engaged in racial profiling or some wrongdoing, but they are really grasping at straws here," he said.
Last June, the Temecula Station's 12-member mobile patrol group arrested more than 400 people on the streets of cities in San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.
The arrests, dubbed "sweeps" by the community, stopped after Asa Hutchinson, former undersecretary of border and transportation security, said the group acted within its legal authority but without prior approval from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Headquarters.
During the sweeps, arrests were made far from the border, in cities such as Fontana, Upland, Temecula and even in Kern County, Natarajan said.
People were approached at bus stops, grocery stores and at street intersections, she said. In at least one case, a driver of a vehicle stopped by Border Patrol agents was a U.S. citizen, she said.
Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, said he is most interested in seeing what methods were used in stopping and questioning people. Thousands were reportedly questioned, raising "serious questions about the Border Patrol's methods and whether or not racial profiling occurred," he said in a written statement.
A number of factors are taken into account when targeting people, including nervousness and the way one is dressed, officials say.
"The accumulation of all those factors lead them to question a person," Bonner said, adding that people are not targeted based on the color of their skin. "Sometimes suspicion doesn't pan out, but more often than not, it does."
Some records suggest agents believed someone could be undocumented because they spoke Spanish, Natarajan said. If that's the only basis, then that's "not good law enforcement."
Bonner argued that someone's inability to speak English is one factor that can be used in the equation, but cannot be the only factor since it does not prove whether someone is illegal.
"It raises legitimate questions about why they don't speak English," he said.


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