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On October 10, 2012, US border patrol agents shot an unarmed Mexican civilian while chasing after two people who were trying to sneak across the US border. Since 2008, six such civilians were shot. Only one of them had any kind of a criminal record. We all agree on the need for better border security. But the problem happens when the government sends out agents with no training whatsoever. This is the sort of thing that debunks the austerity ideology being pushed by certain banks and politicians as a means of controlling deficits. All it has done in Europe is lead to social unrest and the rise of extremism. Here, it has led directly to the tragic loss of life.

In the incident in question, back in October, a border patrol agent's dog was hit by a rock and agents turned around and opened fire.

Border Patrol agents responded by opening fire across the border into the dark streets of Nogales, Mexico. No agents or officers claimed they’d been struck by rocks—the dog was the only one hit. By the time the agents were done firing, Jose Antonio had received two bullets to the back of the head; at least six more bullets entered the back of his body after he fell to the ground.
The shooting was done in October. It is now May and the FBI is dragging its feet on the investigation:
He landed facedown on the sidewalk, and died there, outside a small clinic whose sign read “Emergencias Medicas.” He was unarmed, according to the Nogales, Mexico, police report. Border Patrol officials, as of this writing, have declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation by the FBI, which has also declined to comment.
And as innocent civilians are being gunned down, nobody cares:
But following a rapid increase in the number of Border Patrol agents between 2006 and 2009, a disturbing pattern of excessive use of force has emerged. When I first began to notice this spate of cross-border shootings, I assumed that at least some victims were drug traffickers or human smugglers trying to elude capture. But background checks revealed that only one had a criminal record. As I began to dig more deeply, it turned out that most of the victims weren’t even migrants, but simply residents of Mexican border towns like Jose Antonio, who either did something that looked suspicious to an agent or were nearby when border agents fired at someone else.

In one case, agents killed a thirty-year-old father of four while he was collecting firewood along the banks of the Rio Grande. In another, a fifteen-year-old was shot while watching a Border Patrol agent apprehend a migrant. In yet another, agents shot a thirty-six-year-old man while he was having a picnic to celebrate his daughters’ birthdays.

By contrast, during the Clinton years, such shootings were unheard of. But now, the next such shooting is an accident waiting to happen.
As the debate over immigration reform heats up on Capitol Hill, increased border security will likely be the condition of any path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers now living in the United States. This makes scrutinizing the professionalism of the Border Patrol all the more urgent. The picture that emerges from this investigation is of an agency operating with thousands of poorly trained rookies and failing to provide the kind of transparency, accountability, and clear rules of engagement that Americans routinely expect of law enforcement agencies.
This is what happens when certain people have the mentality that lives are expendable. After all, these people are merely "collateral damage." Specifically, the Border Patrol has been skipping background checks, lowering training requirements, and relaxing its standards. It seems like someone within the Border Patrol got the bright idea that they needed to do their part to create more jobs no matter what.

Another part of the problem is the culture of secrecy within the government over this issue:

At the same time, Customs and Border Protection has been secretive about the guidelines its agents are supposed to follow. While a quick Google search will take you to use-of-force protocols for police departments of such major cities as New York and Los Angeles, use-of-force guidelines and training manuals for the more than 21,000 CBP border agents are difficult to come by. The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Customs and Border Protection, turned down Freedom of Information requests to see their guidelines.
The actions of these agents were a violation of an agreement between the US and Mexico in which the US has agreed not to fire into Mexican territory. Instead, there are procedures where they are required to notify Mexican authorities in the event of a border incident. This fatal shooting and others like it are likely to seriously damage relations between the US and Mexico in coming years if it is not properly addressed.

We all agree that border security should be a top priority in any immigration policy. It therefore follows that we want a government that works, not a government that spends for the sake of spending or that cuts for the sake of cutting. To do otherwise will continue to undermine public confidence in our government and our institutions.

Originally posted to Stop the Police State! on Sat May 11, 2013 at 08:53 AM PDT.

Also republished by Foreign Relations.

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Comment Preferences

  •  These incidents are well known (8+ / 0-)

    here in Mexico.

    I've been in Nogales, it's a well populated city.

    If you randomly fire there, you're going to hit someone.

    •  And by well known, (4+ / 0-)

      I mean full spread front page of the papers.

      It is not earning America or Americans any friends.

      •  I'm in Santa Cruz CA (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and I've not heard much of this until this diary .
        It saddens me that people are getting shot / killed ,
        it makes no sense , they are not doing anything worth killing over .

        It is not earning America or Americans any friends.
        Please don't blame "Americans" for the deaths caused by some , we do not all condone what they are doing . Some of us condemn what they are doing . I watched a movie about the border , some would put water in the desert for people walking , some would ruin the bottled water .

        Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11 + Trusted Users have a responsibility to police the general tenor... Hunter 5/26/06

        by indycam on Sat May 11, 2013 at 09:51:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Really? Nuance? nah, couldn't be..... (0+ / 0-)

          Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
          I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
          Emiliano Zapata

          by buddabelly on Sat May 11, 2013 at 09:53:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Have you forgotten ? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:


            this is absolutely classic indycam, yes they troll (0+ / 0-)

            just to troll as far as I have been able to tell....

            Seems to enjoy reasking the question you have answered as long as you will keep playing....

            Never did understand the point except maybe trolling for trollings sake......

            by buddabelly on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:55:45 PM PST

            never even reply to indycam, all he attempts is (1+ / 0-)

            Recommended by:

            to derail and throw enough shit in the hope some sticks.....he also hopes no one reads them carefully as they are usually so full of flat out lies and blatant contradictions they end up a parody of their self and their author.....

            Plus ignoring them really eats their ass.......

            by buddabelly on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 02:44:51 PM PDT

            Please be a man of your word , don't fail to live up to your own words , don't play around , be steadfast , never go back on your word , lead by example .  

            Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11 + Trusted Users have a responsibility to police the general tenor... Hunter 5/26/06

            by indycam on Sat May 11, 2013 at 10:33:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Of course, (0+ / 0-)
          Please don't blame "Americans" for the deaths caused by some , we do not all condone what they are doing
          But that's always the case/ people will always bear the brunt of the blame for what their government does even if the US media doesn't report it.
  •  "No training whatsoever"? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "The President is trying to make it tough on members of Congress. It's just sick." -- John Boehner (R-WATB)

    by OldSoldier99 on Sat May 11, 2013 at 09:44:06 AM PDT

    •  That's exactly right. (0+ / 0-)

      People are being send onto our borders with no training whatsoever and then this is the sort of thing that happens.

    •  there's just no good leaders, the training exists (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eternal Hope, OldSoldier99

      but when the BP agent gets on his quad and goes whooping through the desert hunting people, well....seems like the training tends to break down.......

      I actually had a BP agent tell me that taking a pic of his truck while gassing up was a "Matter of National Security"

      mind you this was a fully marked suv with a uniformed the same local gas station 150 trucks a day fill up at in the middle of the heaviest smuggling corridor in the country 38 miles or so from the Border.......

      For the most part the Agents are decent but they certainly have their fair share of cowboy idiots too....That's one reason they keep shooting innocent people while most of the smugglers saunter on by......Yet this is nothing compared to the boom years, both crossings and deaths are way down since the economy burst....

      Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
      I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
      Emiliano Zapata

      by buddabelly on Sat May 11, 2013 at 10:02:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  question (0+ / 0-)

    is the government of Mexico pressing this as a diplomatic matter?

    •  I rather think the question which we need to ask (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, LakeSuperior

      is why doesn't the US government hold their agents to higher standards?

      Mexico has filed the usual complaints via the State Department. Does the Department of Homeland Security care?  Doesn't appear to.

      The medical examiner in Mexico found this to be homicide. Mexicans view it as lawless and wanton murder, as do I.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:45:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm very familiar with the main case you cite. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, WakeUpNeo

    The facts are this:  The border fence is on the edge of a steep rise with the high ground & fence on the US side and the street where Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was killed was a couple dozen feet lower.

    Because of the trajectory, it simply is not possible for the US Border Patrol agents to have fired through the fence from any distance away from the fence.

    They had to be up against the fence, putting their pistols between the posts and firing downwards into Mexico.

    In other words, their story is false on its face.  

    A witness cited in Spanish language press was walking about 20 feet behind Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez.  He said that as the two of them were walking down the street, two other men ran past them quickly, coming from some distance from behind. (Note that at the location shot the fence is on a steep, unclimbable escarpment above the street)

    After the men passed, he heard gunshots and ducked down, seeing Jose fall in front of him. The shots continued for some time. (the many bullet pockmarks on the building behind Jose bear testament to the number of shots fired).

    So, the two men running came from behind. The agents could not have been hit by rocks ("hey your dog has been hit" is now the story, since neither agent had any marks on him after the shooting), since they were up against the fence, many yards in front of where it was possible to climb up to the fence at all.

    There is simply no way any of the agents' story is true.

    What appears to have happened is this:  very possibly, the agents saw someone trying to cross the high fence. How the tubular-post fence was climbed is not clear.  Those two men then fled. No rocks were thrown - the men were fleeing.

    The agents seem to have approached the fence, putting their pistols throw the posts -- crossing the border into Mexico with their firearms -- and opened fire on the person who they saw below.  A single person with no large backpack.  They murdered an innocent man in cold blood.

    That's not the kind of government I want to support.

    Here is an image of a bullet pockmark near where Jose was murdered, with the fence in the background.

    Here is another image from a protest against the murder with the fence in the background.  As you can see, it is impossible: 1) to climb up to the fence in that location; 2) to scale the fence, particularly "wearing a large backpack"; 3)  for gunfire behind the fence - pistols on the US side - to be depressed sufficently to hit a person on the street before.  The guns had to be between the posts, firing down.

    Here is a PDF (large file, sorry) of a diagram of the murder scene.  (Wait for it to download - takes a bit on less than super fast connections. A white blank page will show at first, then the image will follow)

    The PDF shows clearly how the BP story cannot be true.  There is only a 3.3" gap between the 6.5" wide posts or pickets of the fence. Even with weapons at the fence, it is difficult to shoot so low, meaning it is likely that the agents' weapons were on the Mexico side while firing. Inexcusable under any circumstances.

    These two agents belong in prison.

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:41:45 AM PDT

  •  Shootings 2010-2012: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, WakeUpNeo

    via SBCC


    1. Jorge A. Solis, 28, shot and killed, Douglas, AZ (Jan. 4, 2010).
    2. Victor Santillan de la Cruz, 36, shot and killed, Laredo, TX (March 31, 2010).
    3. Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, 32, tortured to death, San Diego, CA (May 28, 2010).
    4. Sergio Adrian H. Huereca, 15, shot and killed, El Paso, TX (June 7, 2010).
    5. Juan Mendez, 18, shot and killed, Eagle Pass, TX (October 5, 2010).
    6. Ramses Barron Torres, 17, shot and killed, Nogales, MX (Jan. 5, 2011).
    7. Roberto Pérez Pérez, beaten in detention and died, San Diego, CA (Jan. 13, 2011).
    8. Alex Martinez, 30, shot and killed, Whatcom County, WA (Feb. 27, 2011).
    9. Carlos Lamadrid, 19, shot and killed, Douglas, AZ (March 21, 2011).
    10. Jose Alfredo Yañez Reyes, 40, shot and killed, Tijuana, MX (June 21, 2011).
    11. Gerardo Rico Lozana, 20, shot and killed near Corpus Christi, TX (Nov. 3, 2011).
    12. Byron Sosa Orellana, 28, shot and killed near Sells, AZ (Dec. 6, 2011).
    13. Alexander Martin, 24, died in car explosion caused by Border Patrol tasers, CA (March 15, 2012).
    14. Charles Robinson, 75, shot and killed, Jackman, ME (June 23, 2012).
    15. Juan Pablo Perez Santillán, 30, shot and killed on banks of Rio Grande, Matamoros, MX (July 7, 2012).
    16. Guillermo Arévalo Pedroza, 36, shot and killed, Nuevo Laredo, MX (Sept. 3, 2012).
    17. Valerie Tachiquin-Alvarado, 32, shot and killed, Chula Vista, CA (Sept. 28, 2012).
    18. Border Patrol agent Nicholas J. Ivie, 30, fatally shot by “friendly fire” near Bisbee, AZ (Oct. 2, 2012).
    19. José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, shot and killed, Nogales, MX (Oct. 11, 2012);
    20. Margarito Lopez Morelos, 19, shot and killed, Baboquivari Mountains, AZ (Dec. 2, 2012).


    1. Jesus Enrique Castro Romo, 30, shot in the stomach, Santa Cruz County, AZ (November 16, 2010).
    2. Jose Gutierrez Guzman, 41, beaten into a coma, San Luis Port of Entry, AZ (March 30, 2011).

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:53:03 AM PDT

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