Rios is director, U.S.-Mexico Border Program, American Associates Service Committee. He lives in Chula Vista.
At the least since 1987, america Border Patrol has operated unsanctioned cover-up items often called Critical Incident Teams. These particular items have hid, altered and destroyed proof to hinder justice, and now Congress has requested an investigation into them and requested that Customs and Border Safety (CBP), the Border Patrol’s guardian company, flip over paperwork associated to them.
However Congress doesn’t have to attend for the paperwork. It will probably finish these secretive items now and open the door to prosecuting brokers who’ve obstructed justice.
In a Jan. 24 letter to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, chair of the Committee on Homeland Safety, wrote that Congress has approved the FBI, the Division of Homeland Safety’s Inspector Normal’s workplace and CBP’s Workplace of Skilled Duty to analyze powers use-of-force incidents involving Border Patrol brokers. “Congress has not offered the Border Patrol with particular authority to conduct investigations of its brokers’ misconduct,” they wrote.
However the Border Patrol has accomplished this and should be totally investigated.
This probe comes after the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) requested that Congress examine Border Patrol’s Vital Incident Groups as a result of they illegally and routinely intervene with investigations when brokers face allegations of misconduct and extreme drive. SBCC, of which I’m a steering committee member, seeks congressional hearings on the Border Patrol’s shadow items.
We didn’t understand it on the time, however a Border Patrol secret cover-up crew corrupted and hid essential proof within the investigation of the brutal beating and killing of Anastasio Hernández Rojas in Might 2010, as Alliance San Diego outlined in a November letter to San Diego County District Lawyer Summer season Stephen. In that case, the Border Patrol Vital Incident Group managed police entry to data; withheld and corrupted proof; did not protect video footage, resulting in its destruction; intervened in witness interviews; altered authorities paperwork; inappropriately acquired medical data, and intruded within the post-mortem. None of that is applicable or authorized.
In November 2015, Anastasio’s household requested me to affix it in a gathering with representatives of the U.S. Justice Division (DOJ) in Downtown San Diego. At that assembly, the DOJ officers advised Anastasio’s household that after a “comprehensive investigation” the place they “devoted vital time and assets” to the case, they didn’t have enough proof to pursue prison costs towards the federal immigration brokers concerned within the incident that led to Anastasio’s demise.
However the DOJ by no means thought-about the obstruction of justice at play within the case. If the aim of Border Patrol’s cover-up items is to mitigate legal responsibility for its brokers, it absolutely labored to elude prison costs in Anastasio’s case. To make sure, it was the Border Patrol’s secretive tampering of the investigation that denied Anastasio’s household the chance to succeed in justice following his demise.
There’s rising publicity of how Border Patrol’s secret cover-up items exist to wash up its brokers’ malfeasance. In June 2021, a Border Patrol agent shot unarmed Marisol García Alcántara within the head in Arizona. In response to the Nogales police report, the Border Patrol’s Vital Incident Group with the FBI arrived to analyze the incident, however it’s unclear to what extent the Vital Incident Group was concerned in gathering details about the incident, and whether or not they influenced the experiences about it.
García Alcántara survived, solely to be deported with bullet fragments in her skull. She stated no police investigator ever took a declaration from her about being shot.
Congress should act to finish these items, particularly as a result of Border Patrol’s secret cover-up items are enterprise investigations with out congressional authority. This makes them unlawful. That Border Patrol brokers are main these investigations undermines any sense of accountability and transparency for an company already accused of working with impunity.
The Border Patrol is thought to alter its tales in incidents involving using drive. When a Border Patrol agent fatally shot Claudia Patricia Gómez González within the head in Texas in Might 2018, Border Patrol press statements initially known as Gómez González an assailant who hit the Border Patrol agent with blunt objects. The company retracted this when a witness with video documentation disavowed the Border Patrol’s preliminary model of the account.
In its personal inner report on investigations and accountability for fiscal 12 months 2020, CBP reveals that it hardly disciplined its brokers for misconduct, together with the place brokers assaulted folks. Over the past fiscal year that led to September, Border Patrol brokers had been concerned in over 750 use-of-force incidents. Can we actually belief federal brokers working outdoors the legislation to analyze their very own brokers the place harm or worse, lack of life, has occurred?
The reply clearly is not any, and Congress should take the steps to abolish Border Patrol’s secret cover-up items and reopen circumstances the place Border Patrol brokers willfully engaged in obstruction of justice by way of these illegal Vital Incident Groups.