For the first time, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has agreed to hear an extrajudicial killing case involving violence committed by U.S. law enforcement. The Commission is a body of the Organization of American States, which includes the United States. It considers cases involving torture, massacres, extrajudicial killings and disappearances in the Americas. On May 28, 2010, Anastasio Hernández Rojas, a 42-year-old long-time San Diego resident and father of five, was crossing the border from Mexico into the United States when he was apprehended and tortured by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. He died in the hospital a few days later from his injuries. In order to cover up their crimes, the agents attempted to destroy evidence and create a false narrative that portrayed them as the victims and Hernández Rojas as the aggressor.
Listeners will remember the pictures: US Border patrol agents on horseback, wielding reins like whips as they corralled and captured Haitian asylum seekers along the Rio Grande. The appalling images might have served as a symbol of the ill-treatment of Haitians escaping violence and desperation. Instead, elite media made them a stand-in, so that when the report came that, despite appearances, the border patrol didn’t actually whip anyone, one felt that was supposed to sweep away all of the concerns together. Well, there are serious problems with that report, but we should also ask why we saw controversy about photographs foregrounded over the story of Haitians’ horrific treatment at the hands of US border officials—treatment that a new Amnesty report, echoing others, describes as amounting to race-based torture. And why were media so quick to look away?
First, it was the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) vehicles speeding along on the road in front of our campsite. Then it was the Border Patrol’s all-terrain vehicles moving swiftly on a ridge above us. I was about 10 miles north of the border with Mexico, near Peña Blanca Lake in southern Arizona, camping with my six-year-old son and some other families. Like fire trucks racing to a blaze, the Border Patrol mobilization around me was growing so large I could only imagine an emergency situation developing. I started climbing to get a better look and soon found myself alone on a golden hill dotted with alligator junipers and mesquite. Brilliant vermilion flycatchers fluttered between the branches. The road, though, was Border Patrol all the way.
The growth of the militia movement the past several years has left many of our communities reeling from intimidation, harassment and violence. Donald Trump’s tacit endorsement of the far right “patriot” subculture has given it a pass to grow and recruit, often manipulating the dispossession that many rural and blue-collar workers are facing in our current economic tumult. Trump’s rhetoric about immigration, particularly the conspiratorial fear-mongering around the border, has played to a certain audience. This has inspired the growth of groups like the Arizona Border Recon and Veterans on Patrol, vigilante groups which sit at the border in an attempt to harm migrants. In a recent book called The Marauders: Standing Up to Vigilantes in the American Borderlands, journalist Patrick Strickland chronicles the battle that many communities have had against these border militias in states like Texas and Arizona.
Several reporters described the actions of Border Patrol agents mounted on horseback as using the reins of their horses to threaten migrants who had waded across the Rio Grande—which is exceptionally low at this point. The El Paso Times reported Monday that an agent ”swung his whip menacingly, charging his horse toward the men in the river.” The refugees assembled in a makeshift camp under the freeway bridge on the US side of the river have been crossing back into Mexico to get food and other supplies, rather than risk crossing through lines set up on the US side of the camp by the Border Patrol and Texas state police, who would arrest them and ship them off for immediate deportation.
Across the United States, hiding in plain sight in strip malls and downtown blocks and amid the suburban sprawl, a record number of immigrant children—more than 13,000—are being held in shelters overseen by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. Representatives of the Republican and Democratic parties portray the shelters as safe and even pleasant. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel both said the shelters were “like summer camp.” But several immigrant children to whom the World Socialist Web Site spoke told a different story. These youth, all Central Americans separated from their families after crossing the US-Mexico border, were recently released from child shelters and volunteered to share their experiences on the condition of anonymity.
A coalition of privacy and immigrant rights groups are pushing back on the Biden administration’s proposal to deploy a “smart” wall on the southern border. In a statement released Thursday, first obtained by The Hill, the 40 groups slam the legislation introduced in Congress last week as a “continuation of the Trump administration’s racist border policies, not a break from it.” The letter pans the proposed use of "smart technology" at the border as "Trump’s wall by another name." The mammoth immigration bill, which is being spearheaded by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to develop technology and surveillance infrastructure to “manage and secure the southern border.”
Each year, untold numbers of migrants disappear in the borderlands after being pushed into dangerous and remote terrain by Border Patrol, the same agency that is then tasked with responding to migrants’ search and rescue emergencies. A new report released Wednesday found that the federal agency does not respond to 40% of these emergency calls. In a series of reports published over the course of five years, the southern Arizona organizations No More Deaths and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos have cataloged and reported the specific Border Patrol policies and tactics that have fueled a crisis of death and disappearance in the borderlands. The first report, released in 2016, detailed the 1994 Border Patrol policy “Prevention Through Deterrence” in which the United States militarized
The immigration court system has a long history of imperfectly meeting due process requirements, even though the due process clause of the Constitution applies to removal proceedings. There is a mismatch between the courts’ limited resources, their large and growing caseload, and the potentially devastating consequences of deportation decisions. These chronic problems have been compounded by a series of recent policy changes that have drastically curtailed immigration courts’ independence and immigrants’ rights to seek relief from deportation.
Customs and Border Protection is in the news with the recent article in the New York Times on the lowered morale among CBP officers. Much of it stems from public opposition to the detention and separation of families and mistreatment of adults and children, whether it be crowded cells with unsanitary conditions and inadequate food or sexual and physical abuse of children and deaths. Immigrant detention is being compared to concentration camps. We speak with Jenn Budd, a former CBP officer turned whistleblower, who speaks about the reality of CBP from the inadequate training to the compromising and corruption of officers, from the misogyny to the racism and what happens to officers who speak out. Budd describes the dysfunctional culture of the CBP in detail and shares her wisdom on whether or not CBP should continue to exist.
“Dirtbag,” “Savages,” “Subhuman”: A Border Agent’s Hateful Career And The Crime That Finally Ended It
It was late November 2017, and Matthew Bowen, a veteran Border Patrol agent, was seething. A fellow Border Patrol agent in Texas had just been found dead in the field, and Bowen was certain someone who’d been crossing the border illegally was responsible for murdering him. “Snuffed out by some dirtbag,” Bowen, stationed in Nogales, Arizona, said in a text later obtained by federal authorities. Bowen, if lacking in evidence, wasn’t alone in his anger and suspicion. President Donald Trump...
Last month, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Senator Kamala Harris released their Climate Equity Act – the first draft of a critical component of a Green New Deal. The act aims to protect marginalized communities as Congress attempts to “address” climate change by creating a system that gives environmental legislation an equity score based on its impact on “frontline communities.” By their definition, frontline communities include people of color, indigenous and low-income people, as well as groups vulnerable to energy transitions...
A US citizen has told The Grayzone that the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service detained him on his way home from Venezuela and violated his privacy. Sergio Lazo Torrez, a 31 year-old Nicaraguan-American, said the CBP forced him to open his cellphone, grilled him about his political beliefs, and demanded information about his contact with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Torrez was returning to the Washington, DC area on the evening of August 2 when he was detained by CBP at Dulles International Airport in Vienna, Virginia. He had just participated in a week-long tour of Venezuela with over a dozen US citizens, including this journalist and two other reporters for The Grayzone.
Lyudmilla Pavlichenko was a Soviet sniper who was known for her accuracy. She had killed nearly 300 Nazis. During World War Two, she was also given the harder task of being a diplomat and coordinating with the US. Having never seen a woman in such a high-level military rank, Eleanor Roosevelt took a liking to her and invited her to stay in the White House. At that point, an American journalist asked her "How does it feel to kill 300 men?" She responded with "they weren't men. They were fascists."