MANHATTAN (CN) - In an administrative complaint, a naturalized U.S. citizen accuses Customs and Border Protection of racially profiling her in an illegal "citizenship checkup."
Lucy Rogers, 27, lives with her husband and newborn son in Chateaugay, N.Y. She is represented by attorneys with the Benjamin Cardozo Law School and the NYCLU.
For more than two years, Rogers has helped translate, transport and consult Spanish-speaking farmworkers for the nonprofit Finger Lakes Community Health. Her work has been partly funded by a federal grant.
As she drove to pick up three clients on the morning of Dec. 28, 2011, to take them to dentist appointments, her route took her along a highway parallel to the Canadian border.
Rogers claims she had not been speeding, but a Border Patrol vehicle pulled her over around noon because she is dark-skinned.
Agent Crawford, first name unknown, told her he was performing a "citizenship check-up," Rogers says.
She says that she told Crawford that she was a citizen, but that one of her passengers acknowledged that he was not.
Rogers did not know the passengers were undocumented because she was "not in the practice of inquiring about the immigration status of her clients," according to her attorneys.
She says Border Patrol agents arrested, detained and interrogated her for hours before releasing her without charges.
Rogers called it "a humiliating and frightening experience," according to the NTCLU. "I should be able to go to work or go to the gym without having to constantly worry about being stopped by Border Patrol agents simply because of the color of my skin. I shouldn't have to prove my citizenship just to go about my business," Rogers said.
The NYCLU and a coalition of immigration rights advocates say they filed nine similar administrative actions on Tuesday.
"The Border Patrol takes an extremely broad view of its mission that would disturb most Americans, who expect to be able to go about their daily lives without having to prove their citizenship status to armed government agents," NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. "These 'show me your papers' tactics don't belong in the world's oldest and most vibrant democracy."
Rogers seeks $210,000 in damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
She claims agents falsely arrested and imprisoned her and assaulted and battered her by illegally handcuffing her and committed conversion by confiscating her GPS for months.
Customs and Border Patrol did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
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