Knee injury sustained from a fall while being chased by Border Patrol, subsequently denied medical care. This man was deported having only received newspapers to bandage what agents called “just a scratch” to mock him, laughing.
I can’t thank you enough. At the end of September, my organization, No More Deaths, released “Culture of Cruelty,” a report that painstakingly details abuses of migrants by the U.S. Border Patrol. After interviewing 13,000 people and documenting 30,000 incidents of abuse, we hoped that people of conscience would take a stand. Thousands of you signed a petition to President Obama, urging him to intervene against systemic abuse perpetrated by the nation’s largest federal enforcement agency. You also wrote letters to the editor to your local papers and made phone calls to Border Patrol.
As a result of your advocacy, No More Deaths got the chance to speak directly with the Administration yesterday. Our delegation met with White House advisors to show them the extent of the abuse, and the Border Patrol leadership’s alarming inability to control their agents. We shared our stories, and we gave the White House a simple message: You can end this now.
March 15, 2010 interview with Jorge, 27, from Guatemala
Six Border Patrol agents, including some on horses and motorcycles, surrounded his group of 10. He was thrown onto the ground face first and an agent hit him on the side with the butt of a gun while agents yelled insults. Jorge was held for three days in the Tucson processing center. When he repeatedly asked to see a doctor, he was denied. Agents threw out any food the detainees had and provided none even when it was requested; over the course of three days, they received only packets of crackers. Jorge now suffers chronic stomach pain as a result of going so long without eating. Border Patrol also took everyone’s clothes except a t-shirt and pants and then turned on the air conditioning. Jorge says his belongings, including his birth certificate and $100 U.S. currency, were confiscated and not returned. Jorge has a cousin and father who live in Santa Monica, Calif., where he lived for 10 years before being deported. He was apprehended by Border Patrol as he attempted to return to them.
And we’re not stopping there. Today we are on Capitol Hill, educating Congress about the disturbing daily reality along the border. We will be calling for independent oversight of the Department of Homeland Security and an end to the increases in border and immigration enforcement that tear our families apart. Before we return to Arizona we’ll meet with international human rights organizations, national immigrant and border advocates, and key partners in the fight for justice and dignity for all.
In just a few hours we will meet with Customs and Border Protection. They’re hoping this will all go away. You helped ensure that the human rights abuses outlined in our report won’t be forgotten.
As exciting as all this is, the hard truth is that nothing has changed – yet. Now that we have the attention of the White House and Border Patrol, it’s crucial for you to weigh in again and let the Administration know that meetings aren’t enough – it’s time for direct, decisive action.
Please call the White House today and help us deliver three key messages:
(1) Thank you for meeting with No More Deaths and immigrant rights groups and sending a message that you are concerned about Border Patrol abuse.
(2) Please urge the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the widespread abuse being perpetrated by Border Patrol.
(3) The Department of Homeland Security cannot monitor itself. Please establish an independent oversight mechanism outside of DHS to hold Border Patrol agents accountable.
Call the White House Today:
Friends, Border Patrol abuses reach far beyond Arizona and affect us all. When we allow anyone to be mistreated, we send the message that discrimination and cruelty are acceptable. These abuses fly in the face of justice, accountability and what’s morally right.
On behalf of No More Deaths, I offer many thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Association Funding Program and the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign for supporting the work of No More Deaths, and this report. And I thank you for your commitment to a world where all people are treated with basic dignity and respect.
Author, “Culture of Cruelty”