TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit accusing U.S. Border Patrol agents who watch over Ohio near the Canadian border of routinely engaging in racial profiling to round up Hispanics.
The judge in Toledo ruled this week that there is no evidence the Border Patrol along Lake Erie had policies encouraging racial profiling.
U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary said race didn't play a role in the eight encounters with agents cited in the lawsuit.
Two groups that work with Hispanics and migrant workers in Ohio sued the Border Patrol over what they say was a pattern of profiling over six years.
They also accused agents of using racially offensive and "dehumanizing" terms to describe Hispanics. An attorney with the U.S. Justice Department said the terms were used to describe immigration status and did not refer to a specific group.
The judge determined a few of examples of agents using offensive terms were not enough to support claims of racial profiling.
The evidence, at most, showed "a handful of distasteful incidents," Zouhary wrote in his decision, issued Wednesday.
The Justice Department said the agency's statistics did not back up the claims of discrimination.
The lawsuit brought by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and the Immigrant Worker Project focused on border agents who patrol the Lake Erie region between Toledo and Cleveland, including the 100-mile border that crosses through the lake.
The agency opened an office in the area in 2009 after determining that section of the border was essentially unguarded.
The groups suing the agents said the profiling began soon after the office opened.
Several people testified at trial last summer that agents lacked the needed suspicion or were motivated by race to stop them, leaving them feeling intimidated.
Leslie Murray, an attorney representing the two groups, said they were disappointed that the offensive remarks made by Border Patrol officials were considered only distasteful. An appeal is being considered, she said.