Immigrant Abuse Runs Rampant in Border Patrol


Immigrant Abuse Runs Rampant in Border Patrol | Miguel De La Torre, Immigration, Border Patrol, Abuse

A study conducted by No More Deaths, based on interviews with individuals held in Border Patrol custody, paints a disturbing portrait of the depth of human rights abuses presently occurring in this country, De La Torre says.
You must watch the disturbing two-and-a-half minute video showing a dozen Border Patrol agents beating a Hispanic to death.

This is not one unfortunate incident perpetrated by rogue enforcement agents, but rather, a systematic institutionalized mindset that is bringing death to brown-skinned people from Mexico and Central America. 

Not since the days of the Jim and Jane Crow South has a culture developed that brings sadistic and cruel treatment, even death, to a certain ethnic group simply because of what they represent. 

During the century of Jim and Jane Crow, many whites remained silent in the face of such criminal abuses. 

Today, many whites, blacks and yes, U.S. Hispanics have joined together in a culture of silence. 

What is more disturbing is that the news video linked above, concerning the 2010 death of Anastacio Hernández-Rojas at the hands of Border Patrol agents, never went viral. 

No article appeared in so-called liberal media like The New York Times or The Washington Post

Hernández-Rojas, like so many who suffer at the hands of this country's enforcement agencies each day, are publicly abused in a culture of apathy.

A study conducted by No More Deaths, based on 4,130 interviews with 12,895 individuals held in Border Patrol custody from fall 2008 to spring 2011, paints a disturbing portrait of the depth of human rights abuses presently occurring in this country.

I did not participate in this particular report, but my own work on the borders, interviewing deported migrants in Mexico who were also held by the Border Patrol, corroborates the rampant abuses that exist. 

I, too, spoke to many migrants, saw the recent scars and bruises on their bodies, and heard their testimonies of physical and psychological abuses.

According to the study, Border Patrol agents denied food to 2,981 people and gave insufficient food to 11,384 people who were held in custody. Only 20 percent of those in custody for more than two days received a meal.

Water was denied to 863 people, and 1,402 individuals received insufficient water. Children were more likely to be denied water or not given enough.

Remember, these are individuals recently picked up traversing a desert; hence, many were suffering from moderate to severe dehydration when apprehended.

Physical abuse was reported by 10 percent of those interviewed, including teenagers and children. 

Of the 433 incidents in which emergency medical treatment or medications were needed, Border Patrol provided access to care in only 59 cases. The study recorded 2,926 incidents of failure to return personal belongings. 

Border Patrol deported 869 family members separately. This means that families were deported through different ports of entry, a costly practice designed to separate families by distance.

More disturbing is that 1,051 women, 190 teenagers and 94 children were repatriated in the middle of the night with no money to dangerous border towns when humanitarian service agencies are closed.

Increasing reports of psychological abuse were also reported, including threatening detainees with death, depriving them of sleep, keeping vehicles and cells at extremely hot or cold temperatures, playing traumatizing songs about people dying in the desert, and forced holding of strenuous or painful positions for no apparent reason other than to humiliate.

Regardless of your views on immigration, regardless of your views on how the border should be secured – hopefully, for the sake of our joint humanity, we all can agree that physically abusing and torturing men, women and children to the point where some die is morally repugnant.

And yet, because the undocumented hold no rights in this country, those charged with detaining them operate with little, if no, governmental oversight. 

When accountability's absent, abuses abound.

Miguel A. De La Torre is professor of social ethics at Iliff School of Theology.

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Tags: Abuse, Border Patrol, Immigration, Miguel De La Torre