Our Nation’s Largest Police Force Lurks in the Shadow of Trump’s Wall

The case of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez starkly reminded border communities of everything wrong with policing in America. He was 16 years old, unarmed, and walking peacefully to a convenience store when Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz shot him ten times through the back.

His death is one of more than 50 since January 2010 at the hands of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In not one of those incidents has any Border Patrol agent been held accountable.

This week, as Congress debates whether to expand Trump’s deportation force as a tradeoff to rejecting his wall, they would do well to remember that justice has yet to be served for dozens of families like Jose Antonio’s. The roughly 15 million residents who live, play, and work in Southwest border communities acutely experience the consequences of congressionally approved hiring surges that wash their hands of any responsibility for adequately vetting or holding agents accountable. We refuse to be treated as a political pawn again.

Border Patrol’s culture of military-style, discriminatory policing and resistance to basic 21st century police reforms presents the greatest threat to our safety and freedom. Border Patrol spent the better part of two decades hiding from public scrutiny, but border communities, the ACLU, and a Homeland Security Advisory Panel subcommittee of peer law enforcement experts recently unveiled CBP’s legacy of unchecked corruption and widespread abuse.

Their accountability deficits resulted in alarming rates of sexual assaultabuse of unaccompanied children; denial of basic needs in overcrowded, freezing custody cells; looting of migrants’ personal belongings; stop and frisks at interior checkpoints located up to 100 miles from the international border; agents firing their weapons out of “frustration;” and supervisors distorting facts to cover up wrongdoing.

When you rapidly expand a police force of heavily armed, poorly trained agents who believe they answer to no one — not courts, not Congress, not DHS oversight agencies, and certainly not communities — human and civil rights violations will ensue.

Of course these abuses aren’t inevitable. Our nation’s largest police force should be held accountable to the highest professional police practices. Border Patrol should be trained to protect the paramount value of human life and police our communities based on evidence of wrongdoing. They shouldn’t do their jobs based on personal biases or stereotypes that leave roughly half of our community feeling like second-class citizens.  

To be clear, the debate over whether or not to build a wall is an important one for protecting human rights. The current 650 miles of fencing has forced migrants to cross in more remote and risky areas, resulting in thousands of migrant deaths over the last two decades. The wall also threatens private property rights and tribal lands, migration patterns of at-risk animal species, and the stunning natural habitats that make my region a beautiful place to live and visit.

The truth, however, is that Trump’s border-wall fantasy was never about rational national security policy; it’s about fueling racial and ethnic bias against Mexicans. Racial bias is fundamentally behind last week’s border fly-ins by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and DHS Secretary Kelly. The facts, for what they’re worth, are that they declared war on our nation’s safest communities and spouted lawlessness at a time of record low apprehensions — a trend that has been consistent for years with net migration from Mexico at or near zero.  

Recognizing these realities makes the road forward quite simple in Congress: You’re either on the side of Border Patrol accountability, or you’re enabling Trump’s campaign to “take the handcuffs” off agents and rule our nation based on cruelty, fear, and confusion.

When the stakes are this high, there can be no middle ground.

That’s why Congress shouldn’t give one penny to Trump’s wall or his deportation force. Until Border Patrol demonstrates a commitment to operating with the trust of communities, rather than scorning internal reforms that celebrate agents who safely resolve encounters with the public, Congress can’t trust CBP or the Trump Administration with any more resources — no more boots, no wall, and no detention beds.

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Anonymous

You have no idea what you're on about. I'm licensed to carry a firearm in almost every state, a born citizen of this nation, and my background is only clean because I was very good at never getting caught. Fact is, most violent crimes in this nation are committed by citizens, against citizens.

I also wonder, do you think American citizens are going to take all the hard labor jobs that the illegals are filling right now? Companies already have automation in mind to eliminate those jobs if required - so even if Americans DID flock to those jobs, do you seriously think companies would pay a fair wage rather than bring in the robots?

Get a fucking clue.

EdithMcCrotchen

What have you got hidden in your background, asshole?

Anonymous

Waffen SS

NotAnon_theDoc

Real bunch of anonymous Trumpkins on this topic!

Anonymous

LONNIE SWARTZ IS A TRIGGER HAPPY PUNK...ES RIGHT..I REPRESENT..MI RAZA......ANY TIME ANY WHERE.....

US lover

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Anonymous

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Anonymous

The reason I think the wall is a good idea doesn't get considered in the media or the Trump administration, and that is the fact that every nation south of our border is politically and economically unstable. If the civil war in the south of Mexico expands or the collapse of any of the other south American governments turns into revolution or civil war then we will face what the EU experienced with a mass exodus of refugees fleeing war. Only a wall would stop that from occurring. It is in our nation's best interest for that reason.

Anonimous

if it was easy to trust muslims, but not, for simple reason, they hate anyone who, is Christian or Jew. And if you don, t believe me, just go ahead and try to pray with your, Bible in front of them are hug them with your Bible in your hand, you be surprise their reaction, yes sir. Very simple,

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