U.S. Border Agents Charged with Abuses

Illegal immigrants coming across the Texas border from Mexico face continued abuses at the hands of U.S. immigration authorities, according to a recent report issued by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

According to the report, "Sealing Our Borders: The Human Toll," refugees (and those perceived to be refugees, including U.S. citizens) crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are subjected to a number of various types of abuse - including psychological, verbal, and physical abuse (such as shootings, beatings, and sexual assaults). And U.S. Border Patrol agents are responsible for most of the abuses, says the report.

Released in late February, the report is the result of a two-year investigative project (from May 1989 to May 1991) conducted by the AFSC's Immigration Law Enforcement Monitoring Project (ILEMP), based in Houston. ILEMP also released reports detailing such abuses in 1988 and 1989.

"The abuses we've reported continue to be serious," ILEMP Project Director Maria Jiminez told Sojourners. "Hopefully, this report will highlight the need to take this issue more seriously and will lead to more humane enforcement of immigration law."

The INS responded by categorically denying the abuses documented in the report, dismissing the charges as "unfounded."

The American Friends Service Committee "has never said one good thing about the U.S. Border Patrol in its history," INS chief spokesman Duke Austin told USA Today. "So it doesn't come to me as shocking that, for the third time, they've come out with a report alleging abuses."

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission appears to be taking the reports of abuses more seriously. It scheduled hearings on the alleged abuses in El Paso, Texas, sometime in April.

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Sojourners Magazine May 1992
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