Weekly Diaspora: Border Patrol Gone Wild

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

A Border Patrol agent shot and killed a 14-year-old Mexican boy on June 7. At RaceWire, Julianne Hing reports that “Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca [was] on the Mexican side of the El Paso-Juarez border [and] was shot and killed by a Border Patrol officer, who was on the U.S. side.” The incident has been condemned by the Mexican government and sparked investigations by the Customs and Border Protection agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The exact details are still being investigated. The Border Patrol claims that the teen was throwing rocks at agents, but eye-witnesses on the Mexican side of the border say otherwise.

An eye-witness account

Democracy Now! quotes an eye-witness who says that Hernandez Huereca was clearly on Mexican soil, playing with other youths when an agent shot at the entire group and killed the 14-year-old Juarez resident as he was taking cover.

“Once the youngsters were on Mexican soil, an official—I don’t know if he was an immigration agent or a police officer—arrived on a bike, wearing a white shirt, a helmet and shorts,” the witness says. “He shot at the youngsters, at the whole group. Some ran in one direction, and others in another. This one teenage victim hid behind the wall. He looked out, and that’s when the teenager was shot.”

Twice in two weeks

The shooting was the second deadly Border Patrol-related incident in two weeks. On May 26, Anastacio Hernández-Rojas, 32, was allegedly beaten and hit with a stun gun by agents in California after he became combative. His death has been ruled a homicide by the San Diego County medical examiner’s office and an investigation is ongoing.

Going back to Racewire, Maria Jimenez, an organizer with the Houston-based immigrant rights group America Para Todos, says that such incidents have a tendency to be swept under the rug. According to Jimenez, in the 1990s, agents committed at least 33 unwarranted shootings in a single year.

“Some of them we don’t even know about, they just don’t reach the public,” Jimenez says. “They know about it, but we don’t.”

Border Patrol corruption

Border Patrol agents also face accusations of charging a steep price to allow undocumented people to cross into the United States.

At New American Media, Anthony Advincula writes about the perilous journey many immigrants take to cross the border. He interviews Guatemalan immigrant Danilo Gonzalez, who paid $7,500 to a human smuggling ring that could call in favors from the Border Patrol.

“When we reached the Mexican border, we were asked to get off and transferred to a different bus. All of us were together,” Gonzalez recalls. “The traffickers had good connections to U.S. authorities; they paid some Border Patrol officers. After many hours of traveling, we were finally transported to Arizona.”

Crime down along the border

The Obama administrations’ decision to send 1,200 National Guard troops to the border is exacerbating the situation. But the troops aren’t there because of immigration, according to White House officials. They’re supposed to keep a lid on drugs and other violent trafficking crimes along the Rio Bravo.

That argument doesn’t hold water, as violence in U.S. border cities—especially those with high immigrant populations—is actually down. At Care2, Jessica Pieklo reports that “Violent crime in Arizona, and other states that have a significant immigrant populations, has been consistently on the decline, especially recently.”

Pieklo explains that after a spike in 2006 and 2007, the number of violent crimes reported in Phoenix, Arizona, including murder, dropped 13 percent in 2009.

The decrease isn’t because of Arizona’s tough anti-immigration laws. Pieklo notes that “El Paso, Texas remains one of the safest cities in the country with only 12 murders last year, despite the fact that right across the border a drug war rages in Juarez, Mexico.”

ICE and BP

Moving along to what is likely to be the worst environmental disaster in United States history, the notorious BP oil spill has now become a cause for immigrant rights supporters who are appalled by reports that the federal government is using the crisis to detain immigrant clean-up workers.

GritTV spoke with Mallika Dutt, executive director of Breakthrough, about the crackdown. Dutt noted that “it is easier to crack down on immigrants (sending ICE to check up on workers cleaning up BP’s mess) than oil companies, and that activists around these issues need to work together as civil disobedience rises around the country.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

Israel Security Chief: Completion of Wall Unnecessary

Progressives have been largely unified in opposition to Israel's construction of a concrete wall, alternatively described as a "security barrier" and euphemistically as a "fence." As one who has seen it up close and personal, I assure you it is nothing less than a large concrete wall with guard towers and barbed wire.  It resembles the perimeter of a maximum security prison complex.  Israel has argued it is necessary for preventing suicide bombings.  But it violates the "green line" that represents the border between Israel proper and the territories it has occupied since June 1967.  It thus cuts deep into territory many of us see as necessary for a contiguous and viable Palestinian state.  It divides Palestinian communities, impedes the access of Palestinians to employment, and in some cases to their own lands.  Personal property has been violated and expropriated.  Members of the international community have joined Palestinians and Israelis in non-violent protests against this "necessary" wall.  Now, the BBC reports that Israel's chief of security has declared its completion unnecessary.

The head of Israel's security service has said there is no security reason for continuing construction of Israel's barrier through the West Bank.

Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told a parliamentary committee that Israel had enough capabilities to prevent attacks from the Palestinian territory.

Since building began years ago, Israel has maintained that it is a security measure to keep out attackers.

Palestinians reject this, seeing it as a land grab.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8 058609.stm

I expect some backtracking and qualification.  Nevertheless, this strengthens the argument of the Wall's opponents.  Construction must stop immediately.  Share Diskin's perspective with all who support its continuation.

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"I Take Issue With Your Description..."

We cannot forget who we are. We are a nation of, a nation welcoming and built by immigrants. And though this Administration wants to divert attention from its current mistakes, we cannot forget who we are in the process. To Dennis Kucinich, America means "give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses...". To Dennis Kucinich, in an open and free democratic nation there must be a path to citizenship. To Dennis Kucinich, there is no such thing as an illegal human being.

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Worst Conservative EVER!

Crossposted from Town Called Dobson


click to enlarge

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Iowa Rep. Suggests Mexicans Should be Zapped Like "Livestock"

     Steve King, Representative for Iowa's 5th District took to the House floor today touting a proposed 12-foot concrete wall (of which he constructed a scale model).  He asserted that his wall would more effectively repel illegal immigrants if it was topped by electrified wire.  The logic he used to back up this brilliant idea?  "We do that with livestock all the time."
     In his defense, Mr. King's district is composed of more cattle than humans.

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