– 2013-11-10 18:03:11
Obama Administration Approves Pro-murder Border Patrol Policy
(November 6, 2013) — President Obama’s Border Patrol just announced that when its agents encounter people throwing rocks across the US-Mexico border, the agents will be allowed to use deadly force against the rock throwers. That’s right — the Obama Administration just approved of murder at the US-Mexico border, so long as Border Patrol agents are the ones doing the killing. (1)
It’s clear that responding to rocks with deadly gunfire is nothing more than an excuse for Border Patrol agents to kill — something that’s happened eight times since 2010.2 Some of the victims have been minors on the other side of the border.
President Obama needs to rein in the murderous tendencies of his Border Patrol. Please join us demanding that he prevent Border Patrol from using deadly force in response to rock throwing at the border.
Last year, Border Patrol killed a 16 year old Mexican boy named JosÃ© Antonio Elena RodrÃguez who was accused of throwing rocks over the fence at the US-Mexico border. Local police said there was little chance the rocks ever would’ve hit someone on the other side, but that didn’t stop Border Patrol from shooting him 11 times — at least 10 of those times in the back.3
Since 2010, Border Patrol killed Jose Antonio and seven other people in rock throwing incidents. They’ve killed 18 people total in alleged excessive force incidents in the same timeframe. Border Patrol has a serious problem, and it’s time for President Obama to take control of the out of control agency.
Firing bullets when rocks are thrown is a false choice — in the face of a rock attack Border Patrol agents have numerous options including tactical engagement so that agents can be safe when approaching a scenario or control the area from further back. This keeps agents safe until they are out of range of the rocks, allowing engagement of the rock throwers with nonlethal force.
When the Administration agreed to review its use of force policies earlier this year, it seemed like real change was imminent. Now it just looks like another cheap public relations move. The Obama Administration’s decision threatens to destroy the thin trust developed between border communities and the Department of Homeland Security.
We want real change at the border — the Obama administration must respect human life. Please sign our petition calling on President Obama to stop Border Patrol from using deadly force against rock throwers at the border. http://act.presente.org/go/1231
Below is the statement that will be delivered to President Obama on your behalf:
I’m writing to express my anger and frustration that Border Patrol plans to continue its inhumane policy of using deadly force in responce to rock throwing from the Mexican side of the border.
When Customs and Border Protection announced in September that it was going to adopt suggestions for improvement after internal and independent investigations of its use of force policy, Americans at and beyond the border gave a collective sigh of relief. Now, your approval of impunity and unaccountability further erodes my trust in government.
We have high civil and human rights standards for our local police when they use deadly force. We expect nothing less from our federal law enforcement.
I ask you to direct DHS-CBP to adhere to use of force policy recommendations made by internal and independent investigators. Doing so is a real step in making the border safer for all of America.
Border Patrol Refuses To Revise Policy Of Shooting People Who Throw Rocks At Them
Christopher Butterfield / Think Progress
(November 5, 2013) — US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is reserving the right to use deadly force against rock-throwers, rejecting the recommendation of an internal review to revise the policy.
According to the Associated Press, Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher admitted that the government-commissioned review by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) advised the agency to stop firing on rock-throwers, a practice that has left eight dead since 2010. In the same span, twelve more have been killed in various incidents with border agents. But in spite of these controversial uses-of-force, Fisher said the CBP viewed the recommendations as “very restrictive.”
While the current Border Patrol Training Manual holds that “excessive force is strictly prohibited,” the agency views rocks as lethal weapons, and agents are allowed to exercise deadly force when they believe their lives are in jeopardy.
But the agency’s use of force has been under suspicion especially since last year, when a border agent shot a 16-year old eleven times for throwing rocks over the fence between Arizona and Mexico. Local Arizona police later held it was unlikely the rocks could have hit anyone.
CBP reported 185 rock attacks in 2012, and agents responded with gunfire in 22 incidents. In another 42 attacks, Border Patrol responded with “less-than-lethal” force, which can include the use of batons and pepper spray.
A Center for American Progress report showed that the United States spends $17 billion on border security each year and employs 21,370 border agents. But a stronger border and a more difficult journey has led to thousands of migrant deaths.
Besides the 19 or more deaths caused directly by border agents, a tougher border has made desperate migrants turn to smugglers , giving criminal organizations a monopoly on illicit border crossings. Smugglers often rape, beat, or abandon migrants to die of thirst or heat along the way.
The CBP affirmed the use-of-force against rock-throwers even as they adopted other tactical changes in the face of mounting criticism, including from sixteen members of congress outraged at the death of detainee Anastasio Hernandes Rojas. September’s reforms included additional training on the use-of-force for agents, and sought to address all-too-frequent incidents of verbal and physical abuse on the border.
Christopher Butterfield is an intern at ThinkProgress.
1. AP Exclusive: Border Patrol rejects curbs on force.” Associated Press, Nov. 5 2013.
2. Border Patrol Refuses To Revise Policy Of Shooting People Who Throw Rocks At Them.” ThinkProgress, Nov. 5, 2013.
3. Report: Teen hit from behind in Border Patrol shooting.” USA Today, Feb. 6, 2013.