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Customs and Border Patrol

Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez’ Family Demand Justice 9 Years After Murder

Since the night of October 10, 2012, Taide Elena and Araceli Rodriguez have traveled a long road to access justice for Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. The road has not been easy. On three occasions, the U.S. government has denied them justice. On countless other events, the same government has violated their rights as victims of a crime that has become tragically common over the years: the murder of people -migrants or not- by U.S. Border Patrol agents. In the first trial on April 2018, a jury in a federal courtroom in Tucson, Arizona, acquitted Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz of second-degree murder charges for the murder of Jose Antonio. In a second trial for lesser charges in November 2018, a jury only reached a nonguilty verdict for involuntary manslaughter and a hung jury for voluntary manslaughter. 

There Is No ‘Border Crisis’

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) temporarily closed the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego on the morning of Nov. 19, 2018. With 100,000 people and 40,000 vehicles crossing each day, San Ysidro is one of the most heavily crossed land borders in the world — and CBP’s actions came during Monday morning rush hour.

Changing The Border Narrative

Much of the public discussion of our southern border today is one-sided. It is most often created by those with the most power and the loudest bullhorn; those in search of power, authority and money. So, it should come as no surprise to you that much of what we have been told about the border and of those who come to it are either not true or are highly exaggerated. It is after all the result of nearly a hundred years worth of the Border Patrol’s racist rhetoric and racist politicians creating ever more unfair and biased laws and policies. Many of which have little to do with creating an immigration system and more about scapegoating migrants for political and racist purposes while trying to make money off it. For more on this history, please take a look at this recent amicus brief on the history of our immigration laws.

The Border Patrol Is The Crisis

It’s no surprise that there are claims of a new crisis on our border. A new year, a new administration, new policies in regard to who can cross and how they are processed will always bring a crisis claim from one side or the other. Depending on which side you are on politically often determines how you feel about migrants coming to our country. Conservatives usually feel we allow too many migrants to enter; liberals believe we should allow more. That is a generalized statement of course. There are all sorts of nuances about our immigration policies and what we believe to be the best course of action. In my activism, I have come across few who believe we should have completely closed or completely open borders. Most want humane immigration laws, but with some reasonable amount of precautions to protect Americans from truly dangerous people.

Border Agents Can Search Phones Freely Under New Circuit Court Ruling

A US appeals court has ruled that Customs and Border Protection agents can conduct in-depth searches of phones and laptops, overturning an earlier legal victory for civil liberties groups. First Circuit Judge Sandra Lynch declared that both basic and “advanced” searches, which include reviewing and copying data without a warrant, fall within “permissible constitutional grounds” at the American border. Lynch ruled against a group of US citizens and residents objecting to invasive searches of their electronic devices. The group includes Sidd Bikkannavar, a NASA scientist who was detained and pressured to unlock a secure government-issued phone.

Humanitarian Camp Raided By Border Patrol, 30+ People Arrested

The government ramped up its efforts to stop humanitarian workers on the U.S.-Mexico border and raided the ‘No More Deaths’ aid station, Byrd Camp, arresting over 30 people. The Friday, July 31 raid featured the U.S. Border Patrol, an armored vehicle, two helicopters, three ATVs, a couple dozen vehicles and BORTAC, a type of tactical unit that was recently deployed in Portland against protesters for Black lives. Volunteers from No More Deaths/No Más Muertas, a humanitarian organization seeking to end death and suffering on the US-Mexico borderlands, have continually faced charges, surveillance, and threats by the government. Along with helping to aid migrants and refugees with water, shelter, healthcare, and food, No More Deaths also releases investigative reports detailing abuses by the Border Patrol, which has retaliated with raids and other repressive actions. In January of 2018, Dr. Scott Warren was arrested by Border Patrol just hours after the group released a 23-page report spotlighting the government’s interference with their humanitarian aid efforts in the southern desert of Arizona.

Border Patrol Agents Raid No More Deaths Migrant Aid Camp

The humanitarian group No More Deaths said an aid camp it operates for migrants crossing the desert was raided and then surrounded by Border Patrol agents. The group said the move as an escalation of tensions at a time when the aid they provide is vital. Byrd Camp is located near Arivaca and serves as a medical aid site for people passing through one of the deadliest desert corridors of the borderland. No More Deaths volunteer Emily Saunders said Border Patrol usually allows activities there to continue. But in late July, agents entered the property and arrested a migrant receiving care.

Border Patrol Violently Assaults Civil Rights And Liberties

In the past week, unidentified federal officers in camouflage fatigues, labeled only “police,” abducted people off the streets of Portland in unmarked vehicles and threatened the “Wall of Moms” standing up for our Constitution. The administration later confirmed the unidentified officers were Border Patrol agents.   This blatant demonstration of unconstitutional authoritarianism is demonstrating to the entire country the cruel capabilities of the U.S. Border Patrol. For communities that have historically borne the brunt of Border Patrol’s abuses — and still do — seeing these agents pose as a “secret federal police” force on the streets of Portland is no surprise. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, which includes Border Patrol, has been conducting secret, violent arrests of immigrants for years.    

Oregon Sues Federal Agencies Over Protest Enforcement

The Oregon Department of Justice is suing several federal agencies for civil rights abuses, and state prosecutors will potentially pursue criminal charges against a federal officer who seriously injured a protester. The federal lawsuit names the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service, the United States Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Protective Service, agencies that have had a role in stepped-up force used against protesters since early July. The state filed the lawsuit late Friday night. It lists defendants specifically as John Does 1-10 because the “identity of the officers is not known, nor is their agency affiliation,” the lawsuit states. 

Trump Faces Backlash Over Idea To Militarize The Canadian Border

Ottawa -- After U.S. President Donald Trump's team floated the idea of placing troops on the Canada-U.S. border, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it is in the U.S. and Canada's interests to keep the border unmilitarized. He made the comment after recent discussions between Canada and the U.S., in which Trump’s team was floating the idea of putting U.S. troops within 30 kilometres of the shared border. "Canada and the United States have the longest unmilitarized border in the world, and it is very much in both of our interests for it to remain that way. We have been in discussions with the United States on this," Trudeau confirmed, speaking from the front steps of Rideau Cottage on Thursday.

The FBI Is Investigating Massive Embezzlement Of Border Patrol Union Funds

The FBI is investigating the disappearance of some $500,000 from the coffers of the powerful union representing the country’s roughly 20,000 Border Patrol agents, said the organization’s national president, Brandon Judd. Judd said the probe is focused on identifying the individuals responsible for siphoning the money from the bank accounts of the union’s El Paso branch in recent years. “We know the FBI is looking at it,” said Judd, head of the National Border Patrol Council, which has forged a close alliance with President Donald Trump. Under the Trump administration, the Border Patrol, a once obscure federal agency, has been thrust into the center of a rancorous debate over immigration policy, facing intense criticism over the squalid conditions in the agency’s overcrowded detention facilities, a string of migrant deaths and revelations that some 9,500 current and former agents were part of a private Facebook group that included vulgar and misogynistic content.

US Citizen Detained, Interrogated By DHS About Anti-War Movement For Venezuela Solidarity

A US citizen who participated in the Venezuelan Embassy Protection Collective was detained, searched and interrogated for the second time by US government agents about his political beliefs and participation in the anti-war movement. On his way back from a Christmas visit to his family in Nicaragua, 31-year-old US citizen Sergio Lazo Torrez was detained by Customs and Border Patrol officers.
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