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Press leak of gov’t report exposes cold-blooded killings by border cops

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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 78/No. 18      May 12, 2014


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(front page)
Press leak of gov’t report exposes
cold-blooded killings by border cops
Reuters/Sandy Huffaker
Valentin Tachiquin speaks at rally near border in San Ysidro, Calif., last year. U.S. border cop killed his daughter Valeria Tachiquin in 2012, shooting nine bullets through car windshield.

LOS ANGELES — “Since 2010 we have documented 28 cases of civilians killed by the Border Patrol along the Mexican border,” Christian Ramirez, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, told the Militant April 24. “There has been an ongoing campaign by family members and local protests to demand justice.” The coalition is made up of 60 organizations from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas.

The killings take place as the U.S. government continues to tighten its borders to slow the flow of immigrant labor, less in demand amid high joblessness.

Since May 2006, the U.S. government has added some 9,000 cops to the Border Patrol, built an additional 600 miles of fencing along the southern border, installed high tech surveillance devices at the border and imposed stiffer penalties on anyone deported who tries to reenter the country. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security, is the largest federal cop agency in the country.

The number of workers without “proper” papers detained by the Border Patrol declined from nearly 1.2 million in 2005 to 420,000 in 2013. Meanwhile the number of immigrants accused of “unlawful reentry” — a federal felony —more than doubled from nearly 37,000 in 1992 to 76,000 in 2012.

On Feb. 27 the Los Angeles Times quoted sections of what it called “a scathing 21-page report,” by the Police Executive Research Forum that was commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security in response to protests as well as public complaints from Mexican government officials over shootings and assaults by border cops. The agency and the Times refuse to make the report public.

According to the Times, the report says that Border Patrol agents have deliberately stood in front of fleeing cars to justify use of deadly force and repeatedly shot people across the border in Mexico for reportedly throwing rocks. The report examined 67 violent acts by border police, including 19 deaths from January 2010 to October 2012.

Seeking to placate outrage over the killings, Michael Fisher, head of the U.S. Border Patrol, issued a memo March 7 saying, “Agents shall not discharge firearms in response to thrown or hurled projectiles” unless they believe there is “imminent danger of death or serious injury.”

“There are two cases that have been critical to the fight against border patrol violence,” Adriana Jasso, program director for the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego, told the Militant. “The case of Anastasio Hernández Rojas and of Valeria Monique Tachiquin.”

Hernández was hog-tied, hit by Tasers and beaten into a coma by Border Patrol cops near San Diego in May 2010. He died later that month.

On the second anniversary of his death protesters rallied in eight cities across the country in 2012 demanding a Department of Justice investigation.

His family is organizing a fourth anniversary protest May 28 at the border entry point in San Ysidro, California, Jasso said.

Tachiquin, a mother of five, was killed in Chula Vista, five miles from the border, when an undercover Border Patrol agent shot nine bullets through the windshield of her car in 2012. The cop says she drove into him and dragged him on the hood of the vehicle, a claim disputed by some witnesses.

Jesús Flores Cruz, 41, was killed Feb. 18, while crossing the border near Tijuana, Mexico. The agent who shot him claimed Flores hit him with a rock.

In September 2012 Guillermo Arévalo Pedroza, a construction worker, was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent who fired from a boat at a family picnic on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande across from Laredo, Texas.

A month later José Antonio Elena, 16, was shot at least 10 times, including in the back, by a Border Patrol cop, through a fence near Nogales, Mexico. The cops claim Elena was part of a group throwing rocks from across the border.

“To me it was cold-blooded murder,” Isidro Alvarado Ortiz, who was walking right behind the youth when the agents opened fire, told the Miami Herald. People in the area still point to all the bullet holes on the walls where a sign from the protests says, “We demand justice.”

The Border Patrol has refused to release video of the shooting.

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