ACLU of Texas Shares United Nation's Concern About Increased Level of Militarization on Border

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
July 28, 2006 12:00 am

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Committee Spotlights Issue Significantly Overlooked in National Immigration Debate

EL PASO, TX — A United Nations human rights body today expressed grave concerns over the United States’ human rights record. The American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the recommendations and urged the U.S. government to take immediate and vigorous steps to implement them on both the state and federal level. Among the findings from the committee were concerns about the increased level of militarization on the U.S.-Mexico Border, National Guard troops on the U.S.-Mexico border and the enforcement of immigration laws by agents lacking adequate training on immigration issues.

The committee’s recommendations came at the conclusion of a three-week session of the U.N. Human Rights Committee (HRC) and after two days of meetings with a U.S. delegation concerning the United States’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

“It is clear that the international community recognizes the problems associated with the militarization of the border; unfortunately the national debate has focused on further militarizing the border rather than halting this deadly policy,” said Ray Ybarra, Ira Glasser Racial Justice Fellow for the ACLU of Texas. “The U.S. Government’s militarization of the border is a failed policy that leaves Texans with a human rights tragedy and international disgrace occurring in our state.”

In 1993, the U.S. Government spent750 million on border enforcement. In 2005, it spent more than7 billion. Over the same time period, the number of Border Patrol agents has more than tripled. The militarization of the border has not deterred border crossers; rather it has forced them to cross in more remote areas – leading to more than 4,000 deaths in the last decade. Additionally, border residents now live in a low-intensity conflict zone and are often racially profiled by federal agents.

The HRC concluded that only federal agents with adequate training to enforce immigration laws should do so, and that this enforcement should guarantee migrants’ civil and political rights.

“This should be a lesson to El Paso County Sheriff Leo Samaniego that neither the people of El Paso County nor the United Nations want him to continue using his deputies as de facto immigration agents,” said Will Harrell, Executive Director of the ACLU of Texas. “We look forward to the U.S. government providing more information to the Human Rights Committee on how it will prevent this from occurring in other areas, and how to address the deaths and racial profiling resulting from the militarization of the border.”

The HRC also concluded that the U.S. should intensify its efforts to end racial profiling by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and expressed concern about the United State’s failure to articulate a coherent plan to address the issues surrounding the nine million undocumented migrants currently living in the country.

The ACLU’s Shadow Report to the HRC, Dimming the Beacon of Freedom: U.S. Violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is available online at www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/gen/25924pub20060620.html

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