Civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol agents are increasing even though illegal immigration and assaults against agents are down. This was the conclusion of a months-long investigation by nonprofit media organizations into incidents in three border states. Reporters identified at least 14 men and boys who have died since Oct. 1, 2009 after confrontations with Border Patrol agents.
The special report, unfolding here beginning today, illuminates serious questions about follow up and accountability. It follows a documentary in April by the PBS newsmagazine, Need to Know, which aired a cellphone video of a Mexican man surrounded by border patrol agents, beating and tasing him. Anastasio Hernandez Rojas died later in a hospital. After U.S. lawmakers demanded justice for Hernandez, a grand jury was convened in San Diego this week.
The reporters’ findings come at a time when immigration, always a highly charged topic, has been in the white-hot spotlight this summer.
In June, President Obama stopped deportations of certain high-achieving young people who were brought to the country illegally as children. A few weeks later, the Supreme Court struck down parts of SB 1070, the controversial Arizona law that empowered local law enforcement to uphold federal immigration policy.
I-Newsource reporters Roxana Popescu and Brad Racino traveled to Arizona the day the ruling was issued. They found that everyone from a county attorney to a rental car employee had strong opinions. Check out their video blogs on this page.
Then earlier this month, California took steps to prevent anything resembling SB 1070 from ever becoming law. The state senate passed a so-called “Anti-Arizona bill,” protecting illegal immigrants from citizenship checks by local law enforcement. Chicago and Washington D.C. are following suit.