The Pennsylvania State Police Unfairly Targets Latinx People

ACLU of Pennsylvania clients and their legal counsel stand inside the Pennsylvania State Capitol.

On June 27, after analyzing over 30 incidents involving state police stops and interactions that impacted over 150 people, the ACLU of Pennsylvania and a team of volunteer attorneys filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Pennsylvania State Police and seven troopers on behalf of 10 motorists, challenging the troopers’ unlawful enforcement of federal immigration law. The troopers’ behavior has created fear throughout our commonwealth, and many Latinx people have suffered and are suffering. Below are just a few personal accounts from people who’ve been impacted.

Rebecca’s Story

Every time I think about how we were treated, I tear up. It’s hard to replay what happened to us and to imagine similar incidents happening to others.

I was driving my now-husband, Carlos, and our coworker from Luzerne County to Maryland to install a carport. While sitting at a red light, I noticed a police trooper vehicle in the median. Inside the vehicle was Trooper Macke — he was watching us. During the next several minutes, he made every effort to examine who was in my car and then he yelled out of his window at me to pull over.

According to Trooper Macke, my vehicle “looked suspicious,” and there had been reports of human trafficking in the area. This seemed totally bogus to me — I mean, my pick-up truck was pulling a gooseneck trailer that had no walls and my window tint was within the legal limit, so I don’t know what he was talking about.

His intentions became very clear when he began to interrogate Carlos and our coworker about their immigration status, even though I had given him my license and registration. Eventually, he called ICE and forced us to be questioned by an ICE agent over the phone. He even made me talk with the ICE officer — and I’m a U.S. citizen. We knew that our rights were being violated, but when we tried to stand up for ourselves, he became visibly agitated. His only objective was to hunt down and detain Latinx immigrants.

ICE came and took Carlos and our coworker. Trooper Macke towed my truck, and trailer and I was left stranded with no transportation to get home. It was truly a nightmare.

 — Rebecca Castro

Eduin’s Story

I was traveling from New York to Virginia with my partner and step-children — we were on a trip to visit family. When we got near Carlisle, PA, we were pulled over by Trooper Macke. He said my partner was speeding, but once he began interrogating everyone in the car and asking for our papers, we knew that he stopped us because he saw how we looked and decided we didn’t belong here.

He asked us all kinds of questions about where we worked, how long we had been here, and where we lived — none of his questions were about a traffic violation. Trooper Macke told us that he wasn’t an immigration officer, but he was working with immigration. Then he began to threaten us and said he was going to call ICE.

We were afraid, so we cooperated. My partner had her work visa on her, but my step-son and I didn’t have the documents that he wanted to see, so we were arrested. It was so traumatizing that my step-daughters, one eight and the other eleven-years-old, began to scream and cry as we were driven away.

 — Eduin Cambar Mutate

More stories of what happened to our clients can be read in our complaint at aclupa.org/marquez-psp.

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