Border Patrol agents’ shootings of individuals who throw rocks at them follow “an astonishing pattern,” a report reveals.

The findings by a Justice Department official are part of a federal lawsuit brought by the family of José Alfredo Yañez Reyes, who was shot and killed by Border Patrol agents in June 2011 as he tried to flee into Mexico.

Per The Center for Investigative Reporting:

“Virtually all thrown objects fail to meet the ‘Imminent Peril’ standard to justify use of deadly force, and in such circumstances, officers are trained to take evasive or defensive action, not escalate the encounter with gunfire,” Thomas Frazier wrote in his report. … “In my experience I have never heard of, and do not know of, any law enforcement agency that considers a thrown projectile as per se ‘Deadly Force.’ …

While echoing other reports and assessments about use of force by Customs and Border Protection personnel, some of which have been made public, Frazier’s report on the Border Patrol goes further, laying specific blame and offering a stinging critique. Frazier concluded that the agency’s top leader, Michael J. Fisher, failed to act and his “indifference is not explainable.” Fisher abruptly retired in November after serving as Border Patrol chief since 2010.

The New York Times Magazine, meanwhile, has a gripping story surrounding the circumstances that led to the shooting of an unarmed teen, José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, who was killed in Nogales, Mexico, by a Border Patrol agent standing on the Arizona side. Those agents, too, claimed the teenager had been throwing rocks that endangered officers. But serious doubts have been cast on that account:

Before the autopsy report was publicly released, official accounts of José Antonio’s death had already begun to unravel. A person merely had to stand at the stretch of border fence where the shooting occurred and take in the view. That particular section of fence is 20 feet tall, but it sits on a rocky cliff, and the drop into Mexico from the base of the fence is another 25 feet. From Calle Internacional, hurling rocks over the top of the fence — or through the narrow gaps between the slats, which are only three and a half inches wide — would seem to be all but impossible. ‘‘It’s abundantly clear,’’ [James F. Tomsheck U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s internal affairs office chief], who eventually visited the site with the F.B.I., says, ‘‘that there was no potential for José Antonio to have thrown any projectile from where he stood when he was shot that could cause injury on the U.S. side of the border, not even if he were a major-league baseball pitcher.’’

Perhaps it’s unsurprising, then, that local Border Patrol officers are pushing to be outfitted with body cameras that could eliminate doubts about their actions and the actions of those they interact with.


We Stand Up For You. Will You Stand Up For Us?

Terence Shigg, the local chapter president of the National Border Patrol Council, told NBC 7 he’s in favor of body cameras so long as they are “implemented correctly with the correct equipment and the correct policies to back that up.”

Customs and Border Patrol recently finished a yearlong study on body cameras, yet is “no closer to rolling out the cameras,” NBC 7 writes.

Nuevo Jefe

José Luis López Medina is Tijuana’s new police chief. López Medina fills the boots of Alejandro Lares, who resigned last month citing a “perverse media campaign.

López Medina was previously the head of the city’s commercial police department, and according to KPBS, “[Mayor Jorge] Astiazarán wants López to continue the previous police chief’s strategy of evicting homeless migrants from the city’s main river canal.”

The change came after the mayor lauded Laras for Tijuana’s 11 percent drop in crime, even though homicides increased by more than a third.

The story cites a spokesman for Astiazarán who clarified that “the homicide rate is not the municipal police chief’s responsibility, but rather the state prosecutor’s.” In other words.

Un Chien Tijuanense

Tijuana’s soccer pride, the Xolos (short for Xoloitzcuintle, aka the “Mexican hairless,” team owner Jorge Hank’s favorite dog breed) are a bona fide hit, and now they have a celebratory documentary to further feed fans’ hunger. Premiering Monday night at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, “Club Frontera” “follows players, fans, political figures, sports personalities and enthusiasts from both sides of the border as they share their personal stories of how the Xolos helped shape Tijuana and Southern California,” according to a press release. You can check out the trailer here.

The Future of Sanctuary Cities

Sanctuary cities are here to stay, says CityLab. So-called sanctuary cities are ones that set up policies limiting their cooperation with federal immigration officers.

The issue is a hot topic once more due to a procedural change implemented seven months ago by the Department of Justice that changed the way federal inmates who are tagged for deportation are released:

It’s true that this policy change will make it easier for ICE to deport some people who fit within the narrow category it covers: undocumented immigrants being released from federal prison, who also have an active deportation order against them, who also have a warrant against them in a local jurisdiction, where that local jurisdiction is also a sanctuary city. But the new rule mostly just underlines the solid legal standing of sanctuary city policies. And the official reaction really just shows how sensationalized the issue has become by lawmakers who insist that local police have a direct role to play in federal immigration enforcement.

To Do: Nap, Learn ABCs, Defend Self in Immigration Court

In what is sure to inspire a wickedly touching Lifetime movie, a senior Justice Department official argued that 3- and 4-year-old kids can get a strong enough enough grip of immigration law to represent themselves in court.

Via The Washington Post:

Jack H. Weil, a longtime immigration judge who is responsible for training other judges, made the assertion in sworn testimony in a deposition in federal court in Seattle. His comments highlighted the plight of thousands of juveniles who are forced to defend themselves each year in immigration court amid a surge of children from Central America who cross the southwestern U.S. border.

“I’ve taught immigration law literally to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds,” Weil said. “It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of patience. They get it. It’s not the most efficient, but it can be done.”

He repeated his claim twice in the deposition, also saying, “I’ve told you I have trained 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds in immigration law,” according to a transcript. “You can do a fair hearing. It’s going to take you a lot of time.”

According to the Post, Weil’s deposition came in response to the ACLU and immigrant-rights groups clamoring for government-appointed counsel for every indigent minor who cannot afford an attorney for immigration court proceedings. The Justice Department is contesting the suit.

This Week in the Wall Saga

California Gov. Jerry Brown is the latest to weigh in on Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s proposed yuge border wall.

Brown called the idea “absolutely preposterous,” according to Bloomberg. “It would create such tension with our closest neighbor that, probably, a dumber idea I can’t imagine.”

Miraculously, a quick scan of Trump’s Twitter feed did not reveal any barbs directed at Brown; though if I had to guess, I’d say his reaction went something like this:

Trump

    This article relates to: Border Report, Must Reads, News

    Written by Enrique Limón

    Born in San Diego and raised in Tijuana, Enrique Limón is obsessed with all things border-related. His great grandfather, Hernando Limón Hernández—a general in the Mexican Army—was editor and publisher of EL Hispano Americano, a first-of-its-kind bilingual weekly that was distributed on both cities. Limón has contributed to Tijuana's Zeta, San Diego CityBeat, the Santa Fe Reporter and most recently, Salt Lake City Weekly. You can check him out on Twitter here .

    3 comments
    Victor Torres
    Victor Torres subscribermember

    What's "astonishing" is that it has taken the DOJ this long to make any noise about the problem, notwithstanding the fact that they have yet to actually do anything about it.


    As for Judge Weil, he should be digging a ditch somewhere, not deciding people's substantive rights from the bench, or training other judges to be as ludicrous as he is.

    William Hardy
    William Hardy subscriber

    Enrique, there is another pattern to the boarder shootings you did not mention. People are attacking American's on American soil. Why would one attack an officer of the law with a rock for no reason, especially if the officer has a gun and is in another country? Do you think they are trying to hurt the officer?

    I know many think one has the right to throw rocks at someone if they don't agree with that person. Just think if someone threw rocks at you or your family just because they don't like your articles. What would you do? Especially if that person was in another country and thought they had immunity from your country's laws.

    DavidM
    DavidM subscriber

    @William Hardy That's a bit off-point, Bill.  The article makes clear, at least in the Nogales shooting, that an attack almost certainly didn't happen.  But even if we accept that such attacks do occur, the use of force policy makes it clear that thrown objects do NOT justify deadly force.  The armed officer always has the choice to back up.