Report does not address accountability and further erodes trust
September 18, 2013
Download Report: oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2013/OIG_13-114_Sep13.pdf
Southern Border Region: After much anticipation from human rights advocates in the Southern Border Region, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report yesterday entitled, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Use of Force Training and Actions to Address Use of Force Incidents.”
The revelation of eye-witness footage documenting the beating and killing of San Diego resident, Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, by over a dozen border agents prompted a national outcry from the public as well as 16 members of Congress for oversight and accountability over Customs and Border Protection for their use of force cases. Since 2010, border guards have killed at least twenty people.
At the request of letters from 16 members of Congress, the Department of Homeland Security carried out a review of 2,000 records of alleged abuse (out of 21,000) that took place along the border between 2007 and 2012. They determined that nearly two-thirds (63%), or approximately 1,200 incidents, involved possible excessive use of force.
The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), a coalition of nearly 60 organizations from the southern border, has been documenting stories of abuse and has been at the forefront of pressing for accountability and oversight over CBP over the past 3 years. After reviewing the report, representatives of the SBCC issued these responses.
“This is an incomplete response to the question: Is Customs and Border Protection out of control?” said Andrea Guerrero, Executive Director of Alliance San Diego and co-chair of the SBCC. “While the report answers some questions, it doesn’t give us specifics on what steps are taken when agents are alleged to use excessive force and, given rash of incidents, what reforms or investigations are being undertaken. Where is the accountability and oversight of agents?”
“We need tracking of excessive use of force at the Department of Homeland Security and a formal process to evaluate and investigate force incidents.” states Christian Ramírez, Director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition. “Without a clear mechanism to identify misconduct, investigate it, and hold agents accountable, the agency will continue to operate with impunity and endanger the lives of migrants and border residents and undermine our system of laws.”
“If any metropolitan police department was involved in 19 fatal shootings in the span of two years, we would be appalled and would expect that that they would look at best practices from other agencies to reduce use-of-force incidents, like body-worn cameras for officers,” said Vicki B. Gaubeca, director of the ACLU of New Mexico’s Regional Center for Border Rights. “CBP, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, should be doing the same, but there is little indication in this report that they are,” Gaubeca, co-chair of SBCC, continued.
The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), is made up of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (CA), Border Action Network (AZ), Arizona Sonora Border Coalition (AZ), Taskforce for Immigrant Advocacy & Services (NM), and Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network (TX). www.soboco.org. | Twitter: @SoBoCoCoalition | Facebook: Southern Border Communities Coalition.